Tag Archives: islam

Dying in Makkah does not guarantee you Heaven



Dying in Makkah does not guarantee you Heaven
By Zan Azlee

I have a strong desire to perform the Hajj.

I’ve had this desire for a long time now, ever since I started travelling extensively in the Middle East about ten years ago.

My travels started as a road to self-discovery through my adventures of making self-reflective and immersive documentaries back in the day.

I was interested in my own identity as a Muslim Malaysian and wanted to explore and find out more by traveling to the heartland of where the religion was born.

I visited so many holy places in so many countries. I can’t begin to describe my feelings as I passed through Shiite country, Sunni country, Druze country, Baha’i country, Zoroastrian country, Christian country and even Jewish country.

And so I can’t even imagine the sensations I would experience if I had the opportunity to perform the Hajj and be in such a holy land.

Which brings me to the tragedies that occurred during this year’s Hajj season, more specifically, the deadly collapse of a construction crane in Makkah, and the fatal stampede in Mina.

There is a wide belief that it is considered blessed if one dies while performing the Hajj and for many, especially the elderly, it becomes like a ‘hajat’ or intention.

Of course, this is, for someone who is spiritual and religious, definitely understandable because dying while doing something good just sounds really nice.

It doesn’t guarantee that that the deceased will enter Heaven, but at least it is hoped and prayed that he or she will.

With all due respect to those who lost loved ones in those incidents, there is a distinction between dying while performing ‘ibadah’ and death due to human negligence.

If there was indeed human error involved in what happened in Makkah and Mina, then those responsible should be held accountable, and action taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

I, for one, would like to avoid dying even if it is while performing any kind of ‘ibadah’. The intention is to continue to live a more enlightened life once I have experienced spirituality.

Al-Fatihah to all the victims.

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

There is no such thing as Islamic racism



There is no such thing as Islamic racism
By Zan Azlee

What version of Islam is Tan Sri Annuar Musa referring to when he said that racism is based on Islam? I want to know because if Islam really calls for racism, then I’ve been a bad Muslim!

The Umno Supreme Council member said this in his speech when he attended the ‘red shirt’ rally (aka Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu) on Malaysia Day.

In his speech, he also said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were very touched by the show of support by the rally goers.

It is atrocious to see our leaders reacting positively towards a racist rally that was to show the supremacy of a particular race (they previously said that they were not endorsing the rally).
But back to this racism based on Islam issue. As far as I know, the Al-Quran says in Surah Al-Hujurat:

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you people in tribes and nations so that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”

And even Prophet Muhammad had said, in his last sermon:

“There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white – except by piety.”

And even when it comes to people of different faiths, the Quran has already said in Surah Al-Kafirun:

“O disbeliever, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion and for me is my religion.”

Islam itself is a religion that has been stated to be for all of humankind regardless of race and can be adapted and practiced by anyone from anywhere.

So I wonder where Annuar is getting it when he says that he is racist according to Islam. Is there anywhere in between the lines that say the Malay race is superior over every other race?

Does it say anywhere in between the lines that Malays have more right to Malaysia than other races? Does it say anywhere in between the lines that Malays “granted” other races citizenship?

Here is a reminder to those who manipulate religion and politics for their own self interest. It may be easy to fool some people. But you definitely can’t fool all people.

If anything, this ‘red shirt’ rally that took place on Malaysia Day has done a disservice to the Malaysians and really ruined the image and reputation of the country.

It would seem that the country is continuing to move backwards. But I have faith that these people who have marched in Kuala Lumpur today lack something.

What they lack is the conviction and faith that we other Malaysians who really believe in unity and multiculturalism have. We won’t give up.

[This article was originally written for The Malaysian Insider]

I wonder if God will uphold PAS’ divorce oath?



I wonder if God will uphold PAS’ divorce oath?
By Zan Azlee

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt the need to to defend the sacredness of my religion Islam. It used to be very easy because people in Malaysia were just such idiots in interpreting and practicing it.

Since then, it’s been pretty quiet and I just assumed that the Muslims here had started to become more sane and rational in their understanding of the religion. But then the absurdities began again.

PAS members have been on the rampage trying to attack all former members who left the party and started a new one called Amanah.

I guess they must have been desperate because they started bringing religion into the picture (oh wait a minute… its PAS and they always bring religion into the picture).

PAS members started calling out that all those who left the party would now have divorced their wives due to an agreement or oath they had made when they were in the party.

Apparently, all the members of PAS Kelantan had made a ‘bai’ah talak tiga’ oath that if they were to leave the party. This meant that their marriages would automatically be over if they left.

I have several contentions with this. Firstly, what kind of man would actually enter into such an agreement? Do you not love and respect your wife and family at all?

What kind of woman would actually want to be married to such a man? Are women objects that can be used as pawns and bargaining chips?

Secondly, how the hell can an oath like this be deemed Islamic? And for it to be endorsed by a party that is supposedly an Islamic one? Is this what they call standing up for Islam and Muslims?

The Islamic way is to view women as equal partners, if not higher. They are to be respected equally, treated equally and acknowledged equally. No where in Islam does it say that women are beneath men.

And thirdly, I wonder how does this concept of automatic divorce, due to political leanings, stand before the eyes of God?

It’s just so funny and amusing to see these party members actually taking such an issue so seriously and talking about it in public without as much as an ounce of embarrassment.

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

Malaysians are inherently racists



Malaysians are inherently racists
By Zan Azlee

Recently, I had a conversation about politics with an acquaintance who I don’t really know very well personally.

Yeah, politics has been on the lips of so many Malaysians lately, looking at the number of scandals breaking out on the local political scene.

“Hey Zan. What do you think of the money controversies surrounding our Prime Minister?” she asked.

“It sucks. To think about how the people are struggling and then listening to how our leaders are presumably swimming in cash makes me feel lousy,” I replied.

“Do you think we need to change our Prime Minister?”

“I don’t know. It depends on the people,”

“The main thing is that the Prime Minister needs to be a Malay.”

“I don’t agree. I think he or she just needs to be a Malaysian.”

“Oh no! Then we Malays will be sidelined!”

“What are you talking about? A Prime Minister has a responsibility to all Malaysians.”

“Well, then the Prime Minister has to be a Muslim.” she persisted.

“I don’t agree either. He or she just needs to be honest, responsible and capable,” I concluded.

I find it very difficult to believe that in this day and age, people in Malaysia are still so racially inclined. Yet, it is also not very difficult to believe.

It seems everything in the country has been designed to be racially segregated and everyone has had racism ingrained into their minds from the get go.

Look at the recent Bersih 4 rally that took place in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend. It was reported that more than 100,000 people attended the rally.

The message they were trying to get across is clear. The people wanted clean elections, a clean government, the right to protest, to uphold parliamentary democracy and to save the economy.

But so many people, were too focused on the racial make up of the crowd on those two days. The main contention was that there were too little Malays who were there.

And this is even when everybody knew that the ultimate Malay, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was there (many people believe that he alone counts for at least 100 Malays)!

What I think is that all this is due to the racist mentality inherent in all Malaysians, because of the way our country is built.

Racism is the reason why the percentage of Malay participants of Bersih 4 was so glaringly small, and racism is the reason why we also immediately picked up on that issue.

Firstly, we have a political system that consists of race-based parties. Our former colonial masters had succeeded in pitting us against each other then, and it has carried on till today.

We have become so insecure and scared that our race will be oppressed that we feel the constant need to make sure that we as separate groups needs to be protected in the government.

Like I said previously, an elected leader has the responsibility for all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, gender and whatever else.

Well, actually that is the root of the problem – a political system that is so inherently racist that it bleeds into other policies and institutions that we have in the country.

Now if you think I’m saying that the component parties in the ruling coalition (Barisan Nasional) are racist and we need to get rid of them, then you are dead wrong.

The Opposition is not any better when it comes to this issue either. No one can deny that DAP is perceived to be a Chinese party, Pas is a Malay one, and PKR is a well… a problematic one!

We urgently need to take drastic steps to overcome this problem. We need to eliminate race-based politics. How do we do this? I don’t know. And that makes me a little bit worried.

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

Okay, sure. The issue of cinema couple seats is of grave national interest!



Okay, sure. The issue of cinema couple seats is of grave national interest!
By Zan Azlee

This week’s most sensational news (yet utterly non-significant) is Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria’s call for cinema operators to create stricter rules for their audience.

This is in response to another piece of sensational news (yet utterly non-significant) about Lotus Five Star Cinemas in Seri Iskandar barring unmarried couples from occupying couple seats.

And since we’re already on this sensational subject (yet utterly non-significant), I thought, what the heck, I’m going to ride on the bandwagon and write about it as well.

Why not, right? It’s not like there isn’t any other more significant and important issues that should be covered in the news and discussed. Well, at least we have our priorities straight.

Couple seats exist in many cinemas and are two adjoining seats that have no arm rest in between them, basically making it like a (dare I say it?) love-seat!

The Mufti’s reasoning is that it encourages immoral acts and destroys the faith of Muslims. He stated that couples went to the cinemas not to watch movies but to ‘make-out’.

He added that going to the cinema is already an immoral act, and to have couple seats only encourages them to indulge in more immoral acts.

Yes, we need to curb immoral acts like ‘making-out’ in cinemas by unmarried couples. I guess this is a huge sin that trumps all other sin. So we definitely need to address it immediately.

It is also fascinating to see that the rakyat has given much intellectual thought into the issue as seen on social media, where all kinds of suggestions have been made.

Some individuals have suggested that all cinemas segregate men and women. And taking a cue from the Mufti, they say that people go to the cinemas ‘not to watch movies but to make them’.

Others say that we should just listen to the Mufti because as Muslims, we shouldn’t question anything that is against the religion. We should just accept it whether we like it or not.

Another bright idea on social media is for the cinemas to install night vision cameras in the halls and if any ‘making-out’ sessions are spotted, to project it on to the cinema screen for all to see.

Of course, we shouldn’t get the intentions wrong. This is not an attempt to be voyeuristic, but more to deter these unmarried couples from ‘making-out’.

I am happy to see all this happening because it gives me hope that the country is in good hands. These hands have shown their capabilities in leading the nation forward.

And of course I am very happy to see how our religious authorities are handling social ills and making sure that Malaysia and Malaysians are always syariah compliant.

Yes, observing and writing about this issue has satisfied me deeply. It has been time well spent seeing that there isn’t anything that is more important that this. Let’s do this more.

[This article was originally published at English.AstroAwani.Com]