Tag Archives: islam

Malaysian Muslims seem to have very weak faith


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Malaysian Muslims seem to have very weak faith
By Zan Azlee

I have been fasting in full every Ramadan for many years now and I admit, I do feel hungry and thirsty during the day and it isn’t totally comfortable all of the time.

But of course, like anything you do, if you put your mind to it and persevere, it eventually stops being a problem.

You get used to fasting and it actually makes your body feel good. But I won’t be talking here about the benefits of fasting on your health and well being.

What I do want to talk about is the fact that there are so many weak Muslims in Malaysia who can’t take fasting. I’m usually not one to judge, but well, this time I am going to!

We have a teacher in a school who asks his non-Muslim students to go to the toilet to drink during Ramadan, just so Muslim students won’t see them drinking.

It is ridiculous how some school canteens are instructed to close during the fasting month because it would mean non-Muslim students eating in view of Muslim students.

This issue of non-Muslims having to go out of their way, in the name of being respectful to those who are fasting, crops up every time Ramadan comes around.

I don’t understand how this is respect. All I can conclude from this is that some Malaysian Muslims are just too weak, and when they see someone drink water, their will to fast disappears.

I have many non-Muslim friends and I accompany them for lunch or even just for a drink at the mamak, even when I’m fasting, just so we can hang out and have a chat.

I see them eat and drink but I don’t get tempted. Sometimes, they tease me too and pretend to order for me a glass of teh ais and we all have a good laugh. But I still fast. No problems.

This fasting month, although only a week has gone by, I’ve even been accompanying my wife for lunch at restaurants whenever we are out and about.

She is in the final trimester of her second pregnancy and she needs the food and nutrition. So she doesn’t fast. We sit and chat as she has her meal and I still fast. No problems.

I’m not trying to say that I’m a perfect Muslim here. No way. I am far from that. What I am trying to say is that some Malaysian Muslims need to take a step back and look at their faith.

Fasting is an‘ibadah’and it is suppose to be challenging (although not torture!). And aren’t challenges suppose to make your faith and fast count for even more?

So technically, Malaysian Muslims should welcome people to eat and drink in front of them, and then resist, so they can collect more‘pahala’, right? Funny, isn’t it?

But no. Malaysian Muslims are just too weak. They fast but they can’t take it when they catch a glimpse of someone eating or drinking. Their faith starts to waver.

They can’t even take it when when non-Muslims use the word ‘Allah’ because they start getting confused and all with their own faith. Malaysian Muslims. What a weak bunch they are.

[This article originally appeared on English.AstroAwani.Com]

All I see is a champion athlete, what do you see?


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All I see is a champion athlete, what do you see?
By Zan Azlee

I tried very hard not to get sucked into writing about the debacle of the overzealous religious extremists in Malaysia and the national gymnast’s clothes.

Well, actually the gymnast never even got involved in the debacle. She merely shrugged off the comments by the overzealous religious extremists and continued on.

Self-assured and confident, all Farah Ann Abdul Hadi did was to post one tweet on her Twitter account – “Empty cans make the most noise.”

Enough said. She knows what she’s done (she won several medals at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore) and there isn’t a need to prove anything.

The overzealous religious extremists, on the other hand, got the support of an overzealous religious master in the form of Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs.

While Farah Ann had just did her best in doing Malaysia proud, the overzealous religious extremists obviously had other things on their mind when they saw her in her leotard.

They said that her clothing was too revealing and that she needs to cover her “aurat”. They even demanded that she repent before having to face the consequences.

Yes, they are ridiculous and Farah Ann knows that. And we all know that. It is because of the ridiculousness of the issue that I initially did not want to write about it.

But as ridiculous as they are, they are still loud and people can still hear them. Hence, I have to succumb to writing about it because something like this needs to be written and discussed about.

Although Farah Ann seems confident and mature enough to shrug it off, I think it is important that we still show our support and hopefully this will strengthen her courage.

It is also important to write about because we need to encourage others to also possess and display the kind of strength that Farah Ann has.

And, of course, it is important that we write and discuss about it so that the noise from the empty can will be drowned out and never heard from again.

The minister and those who like him need to assert their authority because it is the only way they know how to instil fear in people, hence become “needed” by them.

It seems so easy to convince Muslims that something is wrong because Islam says so. If you don’t do this, it is against Islam. If you do that, it is against Islam.

And for a Muslim, if you are being accused of doing something against Islam, there is nothing else you can say to explain it because of the way Islam is ingrained in our minds.

We are constantly taught to fear God, to fear the religion and to fear sin. We are scared into submission so much that love and compassion gets thrown out of the picture altogether.

Islam is not a simpleton religion. It is not as simple as merely an issue of covering your “aurat” or exposing it to differentiate between a good Muslim and a bad one.

And neither is it as simple for you to be considered a good Muslim just by judging and questioning someone’s faith publicly as if you are defending the honour of the religion.

Many Malaysians saw Farah Ann as a national athlete who did the country proud by giving her best and becoming the best in what she does.

As for those empty cans who were making so much noise, one piece of advice: look at yourselves first before criticising other people.

If you look hard enough, then maybe you will all discover why you saw Farah Ann as something different than what the rest of us saw.

[This article appeared originally at The Malaysian Insider]

Would Malaysian Muslims contribute towards building a church or temple?


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Would Malaysian Muslims contribute towards building a church or temple?
By Zan Azlee

I strongly disagree with Umno’s Kelantan liaison chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed when he claimed that the DAP’s intentions to build a mosque in Kelantan is an insult to Muslims.

He was reported to have said that a mosque is a sacred place of prayer for Muslims and that the funds for its building needs to be from a halal source.

Is it because the DAP is considered a Chinese political party and hence they cannot contribute towards building a mosque? As far as I know, there are Muslim party members too.

And, anyway, is there anywhere in the religion of Islam that states Muslims are not allowed to receive assistance and goodwill from those who are not of the same faith?

To prove my point, let’s go back into history, say around 50 years ago to the year 1965. This was the year when the National Mosque, or Masjid Negara was opened in Kuala Lumpur.

Every single Malaysian is familiar with the Masjid Negara. No one can deny that it is a national icon and landmark. Even many of those outside of Malaysia are familiar with it.

It was conceptualised a month before Merdeka and was supposed to symbolise how Malaysia was, and how Malaysia should be now and forever.

It was designed and built by a Brit and two Malaysians (Howard Ashley, Hisham Albakri and Baharuddin Kassim). Wait a minute! Non-Muslims were involved in designing it?

The building cost RM10 million and a bulk of it was donated from the non-Malay, non-Muslim, community, specifically the Chinese, Indian, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu community.

Wait a minute! Non-Muslims were involved in financing the building of the mosque? Can this actually be true? Well, go to the National Archives if you need convincing.

What are the chances of something like this happening today? Well, it looks like it would be a very rare chance seeing that when it does happen now, it gets criticised as an insult.

Now let me throw this question out there and see how people react to it. What are the chances of the Malay-Muslim community donating towards a church or temple? Unthinkable or possible?

It saddens me to see that, as the years go by since the establishment of Malaysia as a united country, we are seeing an increase in the polarisation of religion and race in Malaysia.

Why can’t we see the gesture of building a mosque just as a kind and respectful gesture? Oh, and it is the month of Ramadan right? Aren’t we Muslims suppose to be at our best selves?

But Ramadan or no Ramadan, Malaysians in general need to be more gracious and united. We’re suppose to progress as a society as the years go by. Not regress.

[This article originally appeared at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Let’s save the camel!


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Let’s save the camel!
By Zan Azlee

The camel just so happens to be my favourite animal. Why is it my favourite? It’s because of all it’s contributions to mankind.

The camel is considered the ship of the desert because it can travel long distances without water in harsh, hot and dry environments.

It can carry enormous amounts of weight, up to 450 kilogrammes, almost double it’s average weight and moves at a steady pace of around 5 kilometres an hour.

The hump or humps a camel has is fatty tissue that allows it to go for long periods without food. All it does is burn the fat from the hump for energy.

Although it is a domesticated animal and has worked for man for centuries, it still is a stubborn and independent creature that has a mind of it’s own.

The camel has large teeth that it uses as a weapon by biting people or other animals it doesn’t like. It has such an attitude that it is even known to spit at people.

The camel is a beautiful creature too, slender and tall, thick and furry, with large round eyes protected by long eyelashes and small ears nicely at the back the head.

And so I am writing this week’s column with much concern. You see, I am a lover of wildlife and a big advocate for the preservation and protection of the world’s creatures.

Newsflash, we human beings aren’t the only ones who are living on this planet. But somehow, we just seem to think that we own it and we do a lot of irresponsible things.

And because of that, we feel guilty enough that we start all kinds of campaigns that call for the support of preserving wildlife, like save the whales, save the tigers, save the rhinos, etc.

So now to my original concern for writing this week, and that is to help create a campaign as well, but for a specific animal of my choice.

A campaign to save an animal that is fast becoming vulnerable and if nothing is done, it could end up endangered or even worse, extinct.

I am hereby taking this opportunity to initiate a worldwide campaign to call for a stop to the despicable act of having sex on the back of camels.

The camel can take a lot of abuse because it is tough. Unfortunately, all it’s toughness is no match for one kind of abuse – people having sex on its back.

A camel has pride and when people start having sex on it’s back, it is degrading and humiliating for the camel that it can cause irreversible psychological scars.

So I implore the readers out there to take up this cause. Come and join me on this mission of saying ‘Stop having sex on the back of camels!’.

[This article originally appeared at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Why is Islam in Malaysia perceived as backwards?


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Why is Islam in Malaysia perceived as backwards?
By Zan Azlee

The reason for the perception of backwardness and archaic thinking of Malay Muslims in Malaysia is because they are too concerned with rituals and practices.

We fret about how to wash body parts, if we step into a mosque with our right foot or the left, or if we lean more of our body weight on our left leg while while sitting on the toilet.

And yes, we also fret about whether a wife is allowed to say no to sex with her husband on a camel, or whether a husband can ‘pull out’ or not in bed.

We think about all of this while the rest of the Muslim world are more concerned with bigger issues like the philosophical and intellectual development of it’s people and religion.

In the other progressive Muslim societies outside of Malaysia, the study, discussion and comparison of different Islamic schools have encouraged better understanding of the faith.

Islamic thinkers around the world are actually constantly discussing the challenges of adapting and interpreting the religion to the times, understanding very well that Islam is for all times.

They discuss and debate different schools of thoughts and interpretations to understand the evolution of Islam better, hence able to mould the religion for current times.

The understanding that Islam is not a stagnant remnant of a time 1,400 years ago and is constantly evolving helps to encourage progressive thinking.

To think of it, the religion was constantly evolving from all the prophets right up to Judaism, Christianity and finally Islam (which is till the end of time).

So there we have proof that the religion is naturally something that can evolve and develop as times goes on. It is the responsibility of the practitioners to make sure it stays relevant.

Rarely will you hear Muslims outside of Malaysia talk about how many times you need to chew before swallowing like the prophet, as if that will determine if you will enter heaven or hell.

It doesn’t help the matter when our own local religious authorities curb the spread of different Islamic schools of thoughts and interpretations that differ from the standard majority.

Any teachings or thoughts that go against the Sunni Shafie teachings are straight out condemned and banned without so much of an explanation to why they do so.

We do not encourage rational and intellectual thought when it comes to the religion because that is seen as a threat to what control the authorities have over the people.

This, to me, go against the entire concept of Islam as a religion of all time. And it is sad to see that the Malay Muslim society leaders themselves are the ones who are the cause of all this.