Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Malaysian Lawyers Egroup Posting Part III: Death for Muslims Who Fail to Pray

Note: One of the Egroup members posted a newspaper article with the above title. A law was passed in some country imposing the death penalty on Muslims who do not perform the obligatory prayers. Then this member whom we shall call "J" (whose second name is Kaur & therefore we assume she is a Sikh) posted a comment that she is glad she is not a Muslim. This sparked off a spate of angry response from Muslim lawyers and there were some responses from Christian lawyers trying to be helpful but who were inadvertantly drawn into the fray. It was turning rather nasty so I thought I should intervene before it goes too far. That stupid girl "J" exascerbated the situation in her response to these postings by calling Malay Muslims "You people" and referring to them as "Bumiputras who behave like they have just come out of a dungeon when they are overseas". She further commented "Why is your religion so complicated that you have so many different interpretations" or something to that effect. Why oh why are people so ignorant & foolhardy to the point of recklessness that they make such flippant and blase remarks about other people's religion & culture? Below was my response posted on 12 July 2006:-

Dear J (& everyone who have posted comments on this issue)

I have been following the discussion by members of this group on the Lina Joy case and now this. And so.... our level of communication with each other has now come to this - affectionately calling each other "you
people" and fondly relating the escapades of "Bumiputras behaving like they have come out of a dungeon whilst abroad". Making sweeping statements "why is your religion so complicated that you have so many different interpretations" and soon another person will respond with "why do you people have so many Gods" not realising that not all Indians are Hindus or the difference between Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians....Whilst others recklessly make further sweeping statements, though well-intentioned and without malice, like "you should be thankful she is still praying to the same one God" or "Isn't Jesus also a prophet in Islam so what's the big deal, its the same teachings" or something to that effect.

Then there are those who are Holier Than Thou - comparing which practitioner of which religion has more faith and fervour for their respective religion and not being satisfied with just that comparison, they seek to then distinguish between those who do diligently practise the religion and those who choose to practise only some parts of the religious requirements. Comments like these coming from Joe Bloggs (or Mat Motor) off the street, I can understand. But comments such as these from lawyers trained to apply coherent thought processes and objectivity above personal feelings & emotions, I find difficult to digest or comprehend. Soon we will be calling each other "terrorist" and "infidel" and so the tenous grip we have on our respect and courtesy for each other crumbles as we join the masses in our mudslinging frenzy.

In the backdrop to this scenario we have religious leaders who seem afflicted with some curious malady propelling them to pass strange edicts proclaiming "Kongsi-Raya" as a non-kosher activity and our police chieftain waking up one morning struck by a sudden brainwave (or a message from God perhaps?) announcing that from that day henceforth all policewomen shall don the headscarf regardless of race & religion. You start wondering - is this a cheap publicity stunt to justify their existence or are they experiencing a surge of religious fervour?

And so... our people are flung into this whirlpool of confusion as fear
seeps in - it's us against them, Muslims vs non Muslims, Extremists vs Moderates, Bumis vs non Bumis. Should we visit each other for Hari Raya? Oh yes, why not? We can visit our friends for Chinese New Year but choose not to partake in their food and drinks as perchance these oranges, peanuts and coca cola they serve may not be halal. And perish the thought of allowing our children to visit their friends of another race/religion.

Let us not get caught up with this national obsession over haram & halal causing a rift between and disrespect amongst fellow human beings. Let's take a good look at our children these days. Are they mingling like we used to at school? Let's not put all the blame on the Government or the religious leaders. Let's take some responsibility ourselves. When we, as lawyers, supposedly the last bastion of objectivity (if not sanity) left in this country, decide to jump into the same bandwagon and start calling each other "you people" and making references to "Bumiputras behaving like people out of a dungeon", what hope is there for our children? Let us go beyond tolerating each other, let us respect each other. In respecting each other, perhaps we should first refrain from making sweeping statements about religious practices and beliefs which we are not familiar with. Every religion & race has its fair share of bigots. Let's not judge the rest of the people practising these religions by the actions of a handful of bigots. We can choose - to either get carried away by this tidal wave of national dementia with underlying threats of people running "amok" when provoked or we can step back, observe objectively and use our rational thought processes before we make any comments, issue any response or decide on how to behave.

Let our strength of faith not be measured by how much we are willing to die or to kill for our religion but how much we are willing to love & forgive for our God.

This Alice would like to return to her Wonderland where she opens her school textbook and reads :-
"Ah Chong, Ali dan Gopal adalah kawan baik dan mereka pergi memancing ikan bersama-sama setiap hari Sabtu" and not remain in this Hinterland where she opens her emails and reads "You people are the ones.....coming out of your dungeons....".

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