Malaysia is an Islam/Muslim dominant country, which also has a multicultural society, has a democracy, and that we are living peacefully with each other.
I would like to speak up against the rising Islamophobia in the West by giving my input in the debate in a positive way from my own experience trying to give at least some balance to let you know we aren’t bad people at all! And by doing so, maybe, just maybe I inspire more people to write positively too?
We are people first…
Beyond everything else we are people first. We have names, have husbands and wives, live in our homes, drink our coffee before we go to work and are just as frustrated about traffic jams as you are.
The majority of us live in middle income countries. Yes we aren’t as rich and as well developed as you are, and yes, we face the same struggles in the development pathway. We have corruption, we have male dominated cultures, politics often is about the person as in personal support vs what a political party is standing for. Yes, people do traditionally vote for the same person, then his son, or other family. Yes, that mutual benefit does happen as it happens everywhere in the non-industrialized countries and, you know what?
In many of those cases people still go to work, live in peace, and are annoyed by traffic and politicians just like more than half of Americans are annoyed with Trump.
Yes, money doesn’t solve everything. Just because some countries are rich in oil, thus have a lot of money, don’t pay taxes, and can enjoy a happy go lucky life, doesn’t mean that they can “buy a better culture”. Because culturally those countries don’t have to be more advanced, as in norms and values and attitudes among themselves.
….equally as we are Muslims….
By far the greatest majority of 1.6 billion Muslims live by the ‘5 Pillars of Islam’
- Sahadah – or the testimony of our faith
- Salat – our daily prayers
- Zakat – our financial contribution to the needy and the poor
- Sawm – our time of contemplation, fasting, learning, and focusing on the good during Ramadan
- Hajj – for the ones who can afford and physically can make the trip to Mecca, our pilgrimage
Besides these pillars of Islam, we also live by ‘the Pillars of Faith’
- Belief in Allah or God, they are synonyms
- Belief in Angels, which basically are the same as in Christianity but we pronounce their names a bit differently
- Belief in Allah’s books, and yes, they include Abraham’s scrolls, and the Psalms, and the Torah and the Gospel. However, the Gospel, or Bible which is the latest for Christians, we have the last Book of Allah first in our hands: the Quran.
- Belief in Allah’s Prophets, and yes, that includes Jesus. We only put him in a different context.
- Belief in the Day of Judgement
- Destiny, Divine, Decree, meaning that Allah is everywhere in the whole universe in small and large. He is all knowing and we only know in part. Through our learning we know more and more and get technologically more advanced than ever before. We discover more about life, are able to explain things differently than 200 years ago and build a better life for ourselves here on earth. We do trust Him, but, we cannot let Him do the work for us either. So we have to take action and do our very best in life with His support and that gives certainty, confidence and peace of heart.
Then there also are the practical things we live by such as:
- Halal vs. Haram, respect for life, the living and the death. Meaning, consuming food that has been produced as environmental friendly as possible and slaughtered accordingly. Meaning too, not consuming mind altering products such as drugs, alcohol nor abusing medicine.
The greatest majority live by the Oneness of Mankind and Oneness of The Message
Oneness of Mankind:
- This means that we believe that:
- People always are equal in His view
- We cannot judge each other over things we cannot choose such as gender, color, size, etc, etc, etc, in fact, He himself looks in our hearts and deeds, not the body who did the deed or is surrounding the heart.
- Scholars and other knowledgeable people of Islam who truthfully explain the Islam only and only are advisers. An Imam is not a priest or intermediary – we all pray together side by side to Him, not to a human being.
- Muslims ought to be moderate in life.
- We are not responsible for other’s sins and faults
- We can be forgiven by Him through our prayers and better our lives through our learning from wrong doing by making it right
- Salvation is through belief and practice – side by side
Oneness of the Message:
- We believe that:
- We are born innocent and no matter what we stay innocent till puberty. Only committing sins after puberty is lawful and the person must be held responsible
- We believe there is no original sin
- We are not responsible for other’s sins and faults
- We can be forgiven by Him through our prayers and better our lives through our learning from wrong doing and making it right
- Salvation is through belief and practice – side by side
This is who the great majority of the Muslims are, what they believe in and how they practice faith.
It. is. that. simple.
….who have our own differences among ourselves….
Obviously, people don’t agree. When you put 1.6 billion people in one room then there is disagreement. Just look on the infographic I got from Information Is Beautiful
Just look at it and you can see the diversity within the Islam. Each of these branches, schools and especially movements, disagree at least about something.
A very big disagreement I would like to point out is how the Hanbali school is observing the Islam. That is a school mainly in Saudi Arabia which is super conservative and takes the Quran by the letter and not by spirit as most other schools do. Unfortunately, that’s most prominent in the media… while you don’t hear much about Shafi (where we belong to).
I, for one, disagree with taking the Quran literary because that text is so old, placed in that context, in that specific culture that was there. Just because Mecca is in Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean that their version or school is the only and the only right one.
Don’t get me wrong! I do enjoy the Quran and it does teach me many new things each time I read in it. I just don’t take verses from the book to prove a point or to use it as justification for (in)action.
Another obvious disagreement I have is with the ‘movements’ which also are the infamous terrorist groups who hijack the Islam and justifying what they are doing by them so-called “Islamic principles”. But, really, that has nothing to do at all with the Islam and how Muslims are living their lives.
We are just human beings living life in spirit and practice as you do – nothing more!
…. which are exploited, but, for what end?
Here are some things that often are passing by. The list is much bigger, but I rather spend time and energy into positive things 😉 But still, a few close to my heart.
There is the complain that Muslim women are oppressed and ‘legal property of men’. Women are forced to wear a hijab, women are forced to be in a burka, women are, women are, women are aaarrrggggggg!!!!
What the Islam is saying is that both men and women need to dress modestly. Yes, there is a discussion whether a head scarf is compulsory or not, yet, that is more a cultural discussion than an Islamic discussion.
Many women and men do genuinely feel that exposing the body only feels appropriate at home among people when there is no outside pressure on how a body (both male and female) looks or should look or that a body is sexualised as sexuality is for the (married) couple only. Most women choose to wear a headscarf and I believe women should be equally free not to wear one.
What you see on the TV, hear on the radio, what you see passing by on social media and read about in magazines comes mostly from the extreme corners from the infographic. Saudi Arabia doesn’t let women drive (will change soon), cinemas were forbidden for a long time, women rights are close to 0, and no representation of women in the government at all. That is not Islamic! That is their school, a minority compared to rest!
And of course terrorism, Taliban, ISIS, and the lot sells on the news, of course you only see that part on TV, of course that’s not a true representation of reality! Why would you watch women behind the wheel standing still in a traffic jam after bringing their only child to school?
The next picture tells the right story: Malay, Malaysian-Chinese, Malaysian-Indians voting together as one for one nation, that is reality! No soap opera, no military, no road blocks, no protests, no demonstrations, but hope instead, hope for a new government bringing people closer together to a better future.
Men rape our women and are violent
That’s a rhetoric one too. I have seen those memes and pictures and post passing by that men cannot keep their hands to themselves and all. Well, I am sorry to say, that is so not Islamic at all.
Any violence to any other living human being is haram, bad, forbidden, and a sin. End of question.
Yes, there are men who do that. It is men who make the choice not to keep their penis in their pants. Nobody is telling them to do so and those men should stop that shit.
That happens in all cultures, in all levels of society, in all countries.
In fact, I remember India! I was there with a friend in a rickshaw near Delhi. It was full, she could get in and I was hanging on the outside of it. Random men were grabbing her boobs out of the blue out of nowhere and yes, she was dressed decent. Those men were Hindus looking at the dot on their heads.
In the same period I was there I saw in that local Indian culture that men walked in front with their women behind them with their face covered too.
But there is a Muslim-Tsunami and Islamification of Europe/USA and we must stop that!
“All those immigrants, refugees, with all their big families. They mix up with all the immigrants from the 1970ies, being criminals, uneducated, not willing to mix with our culture, and soon we have a mosque in every street! We must stop that! Fences! Segregation laws! They are not even humans!”
Uuuhhhmmmmm…. Do you actually even listen to what you are saying?
Sigh…. I think you need seriously go back to school and properly educate yourself. Or switch off social media (or all media for that matter) and travel to Islamic countries and blog about it instead.
Just look at the next picture to start with to get everything in the right proportions, and, point out the small tiny dots on the planet where there is war where people flee from yourself and see the proportion of that compared with the Muslim world – tiny spots right? Where Muslim refugees are coming from?.
Actually why don’t you just…
Visit Malaysia and see how the Islam also is with your own eyes (and do enjoy the nature, cities, food and weather too of course)
And that’s the whole point. I believe that people talk less and less, don’t know their neighbors, don’t listen, don’t use their own senses and don’t get out of their own circle of social media.
Social media enforces what you already are seeing and there have been many studies that proved exactly that. So when you repeatedly see the same thing over and over again, of course you will believe it eventually.
That is why I do encourage you to travel, to get out of that bubble, to meet people you never would have talked to at home. Or see life through other’s eyes, follow blogs like these to see far away travels and experiences up close.
As long as you get the same information about the Islam or Muslims, then it teaches you what it is not. Then it teaches that Muslim are bad intolerant people owning their wives and all that and take them as truth, while this hyper extreme image only is in ‘the movement’ section and is by far not main stream.
Of course there is jealousy, of course there are toxic relationships, of course there are men dominating their wives, as in every other culture, in fact, I’m sure that you know at least someone who is in such a position! And of course there are cheating couples as well, just like where you are coming from.
By not understanding local contexts, local cultures, local habits, local customs, localities in general, you will make a fake association, most obvious the association between Islam and violence, rape, domination, submission and the rest.
So I am asking anyone to think rationally, please, do. Do you really think that 1.600.000.000 people live lives in caves and yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ on streets all the time? Do you really think that a big proportion of Muslim women are forced in burkas?
Of course not.
We are people, living our lives in peace, with ourselves and with other cultures and ethnic groups as well. We are not perfect either and still we need to learn. We need to learn to become better Muslims ourselves and we need improve to know what is culture and what is Islam ourselves. In that I agree.
Malaysia is a prime example of how Islam goes together with ‘Western values’, also on a political level. We just had a change of government, in peace, after a 60 year rule of one political party. None of our surrounding countries can say the same. Vietnam had their war, Korea is split in two, Thailand has a military rule and constantly are in clash between the red and yellow shirts, Cambodia had their repressive government and Myanmar also is partly a military rule and certainly not democratic at all, oh and don’t forget the Rohingya crisis. All of these countries are non-Muslim countries, and Malaysia?
Malaysia did exactly that how it should be, a multicultural country, Muslim dominated, finally more democratic, a safe transition of power, keeping the country together as one.
Come, and see that with your own eyes – I’ll pick you up from the airport (Penang! Not all the way to KL 😀 😀 too far lah!)