Tag Archives: malay

To convert or not to convert – that is the question



To convert or not to convert – that is the question
By Zan Azlee

During my extensive travels in the heartland of Islam (the Middle-East lah!), I would listen to all kinds of stories and incidents told to me by the locals I met.

Once, I was at a church (which used to be a mosque which used to be a church!) by the River Jordan where John (Yahya) baptised Jesus (Isa), when it’s caretaker struck a conversation with me.

We were talking about marriage (I was single then) and I mentioned that in Malaysia, it was a law for non-Muslims to convert to Islam if they were to marry a Muslim.

The caretaker looked at me in surprise and said that that wasn’t the case in Jordan. Anyone who believed in any of the Abrahamic faiths (People of the Book) could marry without converting.

This incident was reminded to me by yesterday’s fiasco regarding the issue of conversion during marriage causing problems for the nation.

(The issue of the Attorney-General being misquoted is beside the point, the issue is still a relevant one)

With numerous cases here of non-Muslim parents try to take custody of their Muslim children becoming controversies and unsolvable, it is a valid issue to be discussed. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

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Sikit Punya Gila: A 1982 film relevant for the times


Sikit Punya Gila: A 1982 film relevant for the times
By Zan Azlee

Last night, a couple of friends, my wife and I had a movie night at our place and we re-watched one of the best Malaysian films ever made – Sikit Punya Gila.

The comedy film, directed by Raja Ismail and starring Dharma Harun, Hamid Gurkha, Yusni Jaafar and Ibrahim Pendek, was experimental and rife with social commentary.

Produced in the early 1980s, it told the common story of the rural Malay folk migrating to the city in order to better their lives, just like it was during the production of the movie.

Dharma and Hamid try to make it big in Kuala Lumpur doing any kind of job they can, from selling corn to gambling on horse races (kuda longkang!) and buying 4D.

Of course, they had to have their romantic interests as well in the form of Norlia Ghani and Nora Shamsuddin (who eventually were snapped up by Yusof Haslam and Kuswadinata!).

True to the malaise of that time, they were a pair of lazy, care-free young men who wanted to get rich but didn’t have the commitment nor the discipline to do anything about it.

All they wanted to do was to hang out, chat up girls, have fun and not work. Then, they just hoped and dreamed really hard that they could make a fast buck.

More than 30 years on, I’m not sure if there are many people still like Dharma and Hamid. I’m sure many now realise that to succeed, hard work and a little bit of intelligence play a big role.

Or maybe there are, seeing that many still clamour for all kinds of hand-outs, subsidies and kick-backs in order to make that fast buck. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Smoke gets in your eyes



Smoke gets in your eyes
By Zan Azlee

Way back in the late 1990s, I enjoyed watching the movie ‘Wag the Dog’ starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Anything featuring these two actors is bound to be a killer.

It tells the story of how a Hollywood producer was hired by the White House to create and orchestrate a fictitious war in the media to distract public attention away from a presidential sex scandal.

The idea was so conceivable that even President Bill Clinton had been accused of attacking Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998 to divert attention from his infamous case with Monica Lewinsky.

Sometimes I wonder if I, as a journalist, have ever been manipulated or clouded by petty and insignificant, but intentional, smoke screens and distractions.

I wonder if all the brouhaha about fatwas being issued about liberalism and pluralism being ‘haram’ is just a diversion for the social inequalities that are happening in Malaysia.

I also wonder if ISMA, PERKASA and Ridhuan Tee, who created so much anger through their racist statements and religious intolerance, are just smoke screens to cover up corruption from the public.

I wonder if getting the people of Malaysia all riled up about how unIslamic it is to touch a dog is really just to move attention away from more oppressive acts such as political prosecution. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

The liberal threat



The liberal threat
By Zan Azlee

We hear the ‘liberal threat’ term being brandied around all the time these days. But what does it really mean?  If you want to touch a dog, you’re considered a liberal threat.

If you are fluent in speaking English, you’re considered a liberal threat. If you have studied overseas and come back to Malaysia with grand ideas, you’re considered a liberal threat.

If you like to rationalise and use logic, you’re considered a liberal threat. If you want to debate and talk about issues in Islam, you’re considered a liberal threat.

And who do these liberals threaten? Apparently, the ones feeling threatened by all this are all the other Malay Muslims in the country. The ones who aren’t liberal.

And how do we know they aren’t liberal? Well, I’m guessing its because they don’t want to touch dogs, don’t speak English fluently and never studied overseas.

But what it really boils down to is that they also don’t want to involve any thinking when it comes to faith. Because they feel that faith is something that you accept blindly.

To them, rationale or logic cannot be used ever to debate and discuss issues regarding Islam because that would mean you have no belief.

The Islam that is threatened by the liberals is a strict version of Islam that is not open to interpretation or discourse because what is officially sanctioned might just be changed.

Too many years have gone by where the authorities have had control over what the people believe and fear. If this power gets out of their hands, they wouldn’t be relevant anymore.

It’s funny how the religion has digressed into such a form because when it first started, consultation with the people was a key element in it’s jurisprudence. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

My multi-faith family



My multi-faith family
By Zan Azlee

I always like to see my own family as a microcosm of the country’s larger society because we have members of many races and ethnicities as well as many faiths.

Everyone respects everyone else. All the major Malaysian religious festivals are celebrated by us together and with much joy and happiness.

Not only do we celebrate the festivals together, we also pay our respects and mourn together when one of us passes away no matter what religion he or she was.

And because of this, we understand each other very well, including each others’ faith. Not once has there been any fights, disagreements or arguments because of religion in our family.

I cannot for the life of me think in good conscience that if I am a Muslim, I need to defend my religion by proclaiming publicly that my religion is the best in the world.

Having faith in a belief personally is fine and I have no problems with that. Because if that wasn’t the case, then I wouldn’t even be a Muslim.

The fact of the matter is that I don’t understand how there can be a double standard when it comes to people of different faiths in this country.

I cannot understand how a Muslim who calls for the burning of the Christian Bible can be allowed to do so because he is thought to be defending Islam.

What is the logic and rationale of defending Islam by burning another holy book? A holy book that even Muslims are required to believe in according to Islamic rule.

Or is this something where logic cannot be applied (an argument that many extremists tend to dish out to other Muslims who try to rationalise things out)? [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]