confused Muslim, yet again
A heated debate on the alleged extremism Islam promotes, gets Fa wondering if being a self-professed moderate but willing to tolerate "nonsense" makes her just as bad as an extremist.
I found myself sucked into a debate while having breakfast at a mamak restaurant recently. It all started with a friendly chat about the call by Penang Opposition Leader, Jahara Hamid to remove a Taoist shrine from Armenian Park in Georgetown.
“You are a Muslim. Tell me why Muslims do this?” asked an uncle who joined me for my morning nasi lemak.
“Apparently they are confused,” I replied with a chuckle.
“I don’t think so. This is something they are doing on purpose. You should know – you are a Muslim.”
Getting somewhat defensive, I blurted, “Not all Muslims are the same.”
“So you don’t practice your religion?” the uncle shot back.
Realising the conversation had taken a serious turn, I tried explaining: “I do practice my religion to the best of my ability. But that is not what we are talking about here.”
“It is precisely what we are talking about. The lady who wanted the shrine to be removed; the man who wanted ‘No Pork’ signs to be banned, the group who wanted the cross taken down – you all have the same faith. You all read the same Holy Book…”
“I disagree. You can’t judge everyone based on the conduct of a small group of Muslims. I do not go around persecuting people. I do not go around telling people how to live their lives. I support freedom and human rights. I am no extremist. Most Muslims are not extremists.” I was clearly upset by now.
“I disagree. I do not condone discrimination, violence and terrorism. Islam is not a religion of violence. Islam is a religion of peace,” I argued, as the uncle had gotten on my nerves with his blanket judgements.
“Your Holy Book promotes violence. There is even a verse saying: ‘Go and kill.’ Now how can a religion which promotes killings be a peaceful religion?”
“There are more than six thousand verses in our Holy Book – why emphasise on the negatives? Why aren’t you talking about the messages of kindness, love and compassion in most of the verses?” I countered, not realising that I had raised my voice in the process.
The uncle laughed, “Girl, religion is not like a plate of mee goreng you order at a mamak shop. You don’t get to tambah pedas or kurang pedas; tambah taugeh or takdak taugeh; tambah telur or tambah ayam. You can’t be selective of which content suits you and drop those you disagree with.”
The uncle got me thinking. If a good Muslim accepts every single verse in the Holy Book without any argument, does that make me, a cherry-picking liberal Muslim and a moderate, a bad Muslim?
I went home that day, quite confused.
There are approximately 30 million people in Malaysia, 60% of whom are Muslims. If a mere 1% of Malaysia’s 18 million Muslims are extremists, why is it that we haven’t witnessed violence or crime perpetrated by some 180,000 extremists?
Clearly, that could mean only one thing – extreme Malaysian Muslims don’t even make up 1% of our Muslim population. That makes me wonder – why then did the uncle get so worked up over a tiny number of people?
More importantly, if 99% of Malaysian Muslims are non-extremists, why haven’t we seen even 1% of the 17,820,000 non-extremists fighting against extremism in our country?
Maybe that’s what makes us – the non-extreme, moderate ones – bad Muslims. We do not fight injustice and cruelty. We are after all, moderates – in thinking and behaviour. We can talk for hours about Arabisation, Islamaphobia, Zakir Naik, Zionist and Shariah law. But when it comes to fighting extremism and terrorism, we hide behind our moderate robe. That’s the problem with being a moderate Muslim. We tolerate nonsense.
Perhaps that is also why we moderates like to insist that Islam is a peaceful religion – it allows us to justify our laid back attitude. In response to any extreme movement, we, the moderates peacefully make a peaceful statement, clarifying how peaceful Islam is, so we can get back to our peaceful lives, sipping kopi O at Kedai Kopi Ahmad.
In conclusion, although I do not agree with the uncle on most counts, I believe he got one thing right – we are not good Muslims. As long as we tolerate nonsense, the moderates are equally as bad as the extremists.
Wan Zaharizan ·
Do understand Jahara is the state opposition chief she also represent her constituents which is majority Malay. She is voicing out many Malays misgivings . The State must be able to explain better. It is the same with the no pork issue. Both I do not agreee with but I emphatise that many Malays are doubtful of these things. I said Malays not Muslims for muslims would have understand that the shrine has been part of the park since eons ago. It was move back to the original position inline with the heritage status. It was a JV between Think City and the State Government. Think is wholy own by Khazanah thus the federal govt is involve.If the Muslims who stay aeons ago at Acheh street and Malay Street do not protest it so how come we should protest it. Now there is no Muslims who stays in Malay Street and many who stays in the mosque area and to me these are the people that is of concern. The park has been rehabilitated to what it was originally. The shrine occupies a mniscule space. We all can enjoy the park and aren't we thought to live in harmony? As a Muslmi we do not condone but we accept that everyone has right and these is proscribe by our prophet. As for no pork issues enough to remind muslims that certain religion forbade the eating of pork like Sikhism certain Christian sect and Jewish religion etc. These is a cosmopolitan city and a tourist area so we serve those who wants to eat no pork no problem. It is not meant for Muslims anyway butit does not stop Christian Sikh Jews or Muslmis to eat at that place. I don't think the Malays Muslims are confuse maybe the YBs are! Perhaps we can import in kosher chicken from Singapore or Australia for then the Muslims can eat too! I also want to ask the YB TGIF, Victoria Station and the ship use to have halal certificate, They never serve pork and TGIF the owner is Melawar group a well known Malay company. One of the reasons because they serve alcohol. What if they put a sign that the food is halal but the restaurant is not or better no pork serve!