Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Gloves On #PulangMengundi

This is going to be a short and sweet post.

As many Malaysians are more than aware with, we will be going to the polls on 9th May 2018, on a Wednesday. While my first reaction was frustration, my next reaction was acceptance and understanding. Since the past three years, the incumbent government has done everything in its capacity—all legal, yes, but still questionable—to ensure they would have a high possibility of winning the next election. Starting with Anwar Ibrahim’s imprisonment in 2015, to the gerrymandering in the recent redelineation exercise, to the dissolution of PPBM by the Registrar of Society, and finally holding the general election in the middle of the week.

The academic in me has a simple and straightforward prediction: BN will win the next general election. The numbers, the trend, the tricks, all allow BN to win, even if without a landslide. Add in all the goodies that have been announced just in the last few weeks, and you got a winning formula.

But there is an activist in me (although I have never participated in activism) that believe there is a chance that this final move of theirs would backfire. Sure, the logic of having the general election in the middle of the week is to suppress voter turnout. But let’s think this through. The BN supporters, while most of them live where they are going to cast their votes, are the complacent voters. The supporters of the federal opposition, on the other hand, are the partisans and ideologues who are mighty serious in their conviction for a need to have a better government. They are the ones who would make the trek home, rain or shine, weekend or weekday, to cast their votes. Furthermore, the supporters of the federal opposition mostly belong to the middle and upper-middle classes; it means that they are not short of resources to make the arrangement to go back to their kampongs. So, while there is no doubt that voter turnout would be low than the expected 85%, I believe there is a chance that a majority of that 85% would be made up of the opposition supporters. Therefore, I wonder if the incumbent government thought this last strategy through.  

A month from now, let’s see if the academic in me or the activist in me has the final laugh.

You can put on your gloves, so shall we.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

People Unite Malaysians

As most Malaysians are now probably aware, there is a brewing religious conflict on the eve of the 14th General Election. Yesterday, the Malaysian Religious Scholar Association, or Persatuan Ulama Malaysia (PUM), released a statement on its Facebook page warning the police that religious violence may occur if they continue the hunt for Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah and the daughter he abducted nine years ago.

I am very much aware that this veiled threat is merely a warning and not a direct call for violence, but the bigger question is, as a body supposedly representing Muslim scholars, what have you done with the platform that you are on to put the unrest to rest? Why was there no counter warning that we Muslims DO NOT condone any sort of violence? Why succumb to the terrorist threat? Have they not learned that you do not negotiate with terrorists? Furthermore, I found it hysterical that PUM wanted to warn PDRM, which has one of the best anti-terrorism units in the world, to be careful. PDRM does not need to be warned. They are multiple steps ahead in counter-terrorism. Learn. I fully applaud IGP Fuzi Harun for his commitment to the rule of law. His commitment and courage to bring justice to the people is what a leader is made of.

On a more important note, when are they going to learn that forcing people to do what they refuse to do is counter-productive? Case in point are their two eldest children who on the record have said that they can now proudly declare their Hindu identity despite the forced conversion by their father. To be honest, I am not entirely surprised by their statement. Who wants to be associated with a religion of a kidnapper and abductor. Someone who no longer respects the woman he married and bore him children? If that is the closest example of a Muslim to them, why would they want to be associated with him? There is no compassion, kindness, or gentle encouragement from someone who touts to be an all-important father. Sadly, no emulation of our dear Prophet SAW who embodied all these beautiful qualities.

What is so difficult to drill into our heads that the best dawah is your manners, and the best naseeha is your example. Because a religious identity on one’s identity card does not a Muslim make one. Sure, I can somewhat understand the argument that it is nearly impossible to be a practicing Muslim when one is living in a Hindu household. But I still beg to differ. There are so many cases of conversion TO Islam despite them being raised Hindu, Buddhist or Christian. Because faith is a choice. The National Registration Department does not decide one’s religious identity. To be a Muslim one needs to simply profess that there is no other god but God (yes, I use God instead of Allah because guess what, Allah means God in Arabic) and Muhammad SAW is His messenger.

Another thing that baffles me is the way we Muslims act as if we are above the law. By being Muslim, apparently we do not have to respect the rule of law. I guess that is why they want to have shariah law without understanding what is Shariah Law. They bring out the Quran and say they must abide no one and nothing else except what God has said in the Quran. May I ask, does the Quran talk about traffic laws? So, you can simply run a red light and get other people killed? The Quran talks about justice [2:188, 5:89, 4:58, 4:65, 4:92, 4:112], equality [49:13, 23:52-54] and freedom from being bonded [2:177, 2:221, 58:3, 90:8-20, 24:33]. And, as we all like to quote,

“There is no compulsion in religion” [2:256], and

“And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you (O Muhammad SAW) then compel mankind, until they become believers?” [10:99]

Do not take these two verses to mean that we should bow down and do nothing when attacked. We can continue our jihad of spreading the beautiful, loving and peaceful religion of Allah to all those around us. And we should continue to defend our religion if others are hostile towards us or our Prophet SAW. It just means that Islam in itself is enough. People’s heart would be inclined to it on their own. This is the tenet of liberalism. That is why I am never ashamed to call myself a liberal. And I will always maintain that Islam is a liberal religion.

I once read that if after all our sermons and dawahs there are still people who are against Islam, it is time to look into the mirror. It is not Islam, it is the messenger which is the problem, which is US. We FAILED to portray true Islam.