Ciggies, shisha, vaping all haram but who cares?
By Zan Azlee
Malaysians are a funny bunch, especially my fellow Malaysian Muslims. So many of them hold steadfast to their religious beliefs. Actually, holding strong to one’s religious belief is not a problem. In fact, it can be commendable to have such faith.
However, for most of the Malay Muslims in Malaysia, their steadfastness can be pretty inconsistent. They get so angry, worked up and make so much noise when they see things that are supposedly against Islam being committed.
For example, when they heard that an Oktoberfest celebration was being organised (by non-Muslims and for non-Muslims, by the way), they went all berserk and started protesting that this was against Islam and hence it was offensive.
These people also protested very loudly and strongly every time an international artist, who in their eyes is “too un-Islamic”, came and performed in Malaysia. In some cases, they were even successful in stopping the concerts from happening.
Let’s not even start with the LGBTQ issue. Oh, what the heck, I’ve already mentioned it. The LGBTQ community is their biggest peeve and they protest about them to hell. They hate the LGBTQ community so much that anything that goes wrong in the world is blamed on them.
Now I’ll be honest and say that these people have the right to their beliefs and if they feel that anything is going against their religion, they have every right to protest and express their feelings of dissatisfaction and even anger (without inciting violence and using hate speech, of course).
What I do have a problem with is that so many of these people act so “holier than thou” only on issues that they cherry-pick and ignore other issues that are equally as un-Islamic. Wouldn’t it be right that if you are fighting for an “Islamic” way of life, you should go for it all the way without exception?
How come these same people ignore the fact that in 1996, Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council had declared that smoking cigarettes is haram? For the life of me, I can’t remember any big protest ever happening that was against smoking.
Why have there been no protests in front of people who smoke? How come no earthquakes, tsunamis or other natural disasters have been blamed on the fact that so many Malay Muslims are committing sin by smoking?
In fact, now that the smoking ban at all food and beverage outlets has been implemented and is being enforced, I have seen many Malay Muslims actually disagreeing with the ban. Some of them are so angry that they even physically assault those who tell them not to smoke.
Here’s a fun fact that many of you probably don’t know. In 2013, the National Fatwa Council declared that shisha smoking is haram. In 2015, it also declared that e-cigarettes and vaping are haram. Nobody seems to care.
I guess it’s the same with the Malay dessert dish known as tapai. It’s basically fermented rice (or sometimes tapioca) wrapped in a banana leaf. The alcohol content is so high that you can smell it from a distance. Eat too much of it and you can even start feeling tipsy.
It’s the same issue with air nira, popular in the east coast of Malaysia. It is made from fermented coconut sap, hence it is alcoholic. The alcohol content is so high that you can smell it from a distance. Drink too much and you can even start feeling tipsy too.
What if all the tsunamis and earthquakes that have happened were not caused by Oktoberfest and LGBTQ parties and, instead, were caused by the stalls that were set up selling tapai and air nira during the month of Ramadhan every year?
What if it was a combination of tapai, air nira, smoking, shisha-ing and vaping that caused all the natural disasters that have been brought down on us? Oh, wait a minute … then there is also the issue of rampant corruption.
[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]
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