I was thinking of Madeleine McCann on this gloomy Christmas Day in Malaysia and no, she is not home to celebrate it with her family as widely touted earlier here. And while the bells jingle merrily in sunny Malaysia, I wonder why being Muslim is so tough in the world today? I am born Muslim, brought up moderately religious, went soul searching in the pondoks of Kelantan after my father’s death and donned a head scarf of my own volition while a student in the United States in pre-historic 1980s. Talk about being minority, I basically covered all bases being non-white, Malay, Muslim and a woman wearing a headscarf. That piece of cloth turned me into a loner in a world of extremism of every kind.
Despite it’s deep personal significance to me, the headscarf seemed to pose a challenge to others who wanted me to take it off fearing I was suppressed, repressed and oppressed by the men in my religion. As a minority in a non-Muslim world I’ve been jeered at, told off, laughed at, snubbed and basically discriminated against by people who really didn’t care about the fact that I am a human being. But at the same time, I’ve met many more good people who looked beyond my headscarf, skin colour, nationality, religion and race. They treated me with honour, respected me for my abilities, applauded me for my achievements as a foreigner (what is a Bumi?) and accorded me the dignity of being a person in my own right.
So forgive me if I don’t join any political groupings, don’t subscribe to narrow minded views, can’t stand hate rants and prefer to give those who disagree with me the benefit of the doubt. My dad taught me that we should always treat every person, irregardless of race or religion, with respect and to always have a sense of humour. So, I really do not understand why using the word Allah instead of God has to become an issue here, here, and here. So I view a Malaysian Chinese Muslim named Anis Ong’s response, to the article “Malaysia Takes God’s Name in Vain” posted on the Asia Sentinel , as both apt and well-worded. He writes:
“The article was written with a lot of ignorance about the Islamic religion. We can’t have non Muslims using the word Allah to mean God, simply because in Islam, our God which is Allah isn’t the same as the Christian God. The Christian God is a Holy Trinity (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) whereas Islam is very, very firm that there isn’t such a thing as the Holy Trinity. So by interchanging the terms God and Allah, it will mislead non-Muslims to think that perhaps, God, Deus, Allah is all the same thing with the same description and attributes. There is another word in Malay that describes God and that is “Tuhan”. That should be the term used for a general idea of a God. The writer is trying to politicise the matter, unfortunately, by bringing in Umno. The article alludes that “Malaysian Malays are confused about the distinction between Islam and Christianity because they use the same word to describe the one God” … but to me, it is quite the opposite. Muslims in Malaysia are very clear about the distinction between the Christian God who sent his son Jesus to earth, and Allah, who “does not beget or is begotten “, ie has no parent or child. And we are very particular about it too. The writer also states that the “English Koran uses the words ‘In the name of God…'”. Does he know that in Islam, any translation of the Quran is just that … ie a translation? It is not, and never regarded as THE Quran itself, and it’s meaning will always be questionable as it is translated by humans and our limitations will always cause it to have some linguistic error. This is why true learners of Islam make it a point to learn Arabic in order to avoid any linguistic misinterpretation. Being Chinese, I don’t think it’s a racial issue as well (because the term Malay is used a lot in the article). It’s just about the fundamental differences between the two religions, that’s all … and so the terms of reference are different. It’s just a pity that the writer did not choose to find out more about Islam before commenting on it. Ignorance and finger-pointing aren’t a good combination.”
I applaud you Anis for writing this comment. Whether people agree with you or not, you affirmed your faith in Allah in your own way. May Allah bless you for this bro! Again, I am reminded of the impact my headscarf used to have on others when in actual fact religious faith is deeply personal. Just as the comedy troupe “Axis of Evil” pokes fun at misperceptions of Islam, I believe Jeff Durham, an American ventriloquist and stand-up comedian here takes a few jabs at Muslim and Christian views of terrorism and religion. Watch this videoclip of him throwing his voice behind “Achmed the Dead Terrorist” in his Spark Of Insanity DVD. I’m telling you it forces us to take a reality check and maybe laugh at ourselves a bit. I wonder if Malaysia is ready for this kind of humour? It sure beats hate mongering I tell ya…..
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