Muslim Sensitivity In Malaysia: Real Or Feigned?

Many women who use dye to cover the grey in their hair know about the skin allergy test to be performed 48 hours before applying it. A person with an allergy to the chemicals in the dye, like the person with a food intolerance, can develop a nasty rash. In extreme cases, the face may swell and the air passages can get constricted to the point of causing suffocation.

In Malaysia, we have a similar test, known as the “intolerance test”. Malays are sensitive creatures, or so they are told by the ulamas and religious authorities. All Malaysians live in fear of failing the Malay “intolerance test”.

Religious authorities have told Malays that they are very sensitive creatures and that they will react badly to many everyday items. It is a relatively new phenomenon. In the past, Malays were not afflicted by this condition. Perhaps, when a lie is repeated often enough, people end up believing it.

Today, we have Muslims, like the person with an allergy, who will react badly to many normal, everyday things, such as touching dogs, wearing items made of silk, not wearing the tudung, holding hands, being in the same house or room with a man who is not a family member, reading some types of books, listening to some types of music or watching certain films, playing stringed instruments, doing ballet, singing Christmas carols and playing choral music.

In the past, Malay women were not forced to wear the tudung. Today, it is de rigeur, especially if you work in the civil service or aspire to be a politician. In Kelantan, steps are in place to fine women who refuse to wear the tudung. If you are Malay, was your grandmother, who was content with a shawl or selendang, less religious?

How did we get to this stage, where mullahs and conservative Muslims fail to appreciate that a Muslim’s piety, compassion or spirituality cannot and should not be measured by how well she covers her head?

There was a time when Malay girls who were active in sports did not mind wearing shorts, but today this mode of dressing is frowned upon. Now, we concentrate on the attire, rather than a healthy interest in sport.

In years gone by, children were allowed to play amongst themselves. Today, girls and boys, even toddlers, are segregated. Little girls are made to wear the tudung and cover their bodies. Leggings for a child in a tropical climate encourage fungal diseases.

Why are Malays depriving young children of both sexes the chance to bond? Why are we passing down our own adult fears of sexual impropriety to children who have not even reached the age of puberty?

This segregation probably explains why young Malay adults are not able to relate to one another as normal human beings. Some Malay adolescents, when meeting a person of the other sex for the first time, do not know how to behave. They mistake a natural biological attraction for love.

Older Malaysians will remember the days when Malaysians of different races or religions socialised freely. One of these occasions would have been the traditional Malaysian “open house” ritual for festivals.

Today, Malays are reluctant to attend the open houses of their non-Muslim friends. They refuse to eat off plates which may have been contaminated by non-halal food.

Non-Malay friends claim that their close Muslim friends would only attend a wedding reception at home if a separate section, with food cooked by halal caterers and served disposable plates, were provided. The preparations for the wedding are already stressful without this added burden. Only the very wealthy can accommodate this request.

Older Malays used to do yoga in the privacy of their homes or in groups. A few years ago, a fatwa against Malays doing yoga was issued. Did the ulamas suggest alternative methods of stress or pain relief for these people? Is their prescription to read more of the Quran?

At school, few non-Malay children dare share the contents of their tuck box with their Malay friends for fear of the teacher punishing them for “polluting the blood of the Muslim child” with non-halal food.

Muslims who go overseas on holiday or work are happy to eat from plates in restaurants or dine at the house of foreigners. Back in Malaysia, some Malays behave with extreme fragility. Why the double standard? Why this Jekyll and Hyde character?

Now we have water that is “seditious” and “insensitive” to Muslims because it comes in bottles bearing the image of Lord Murugan next to the halal logo. Will the normal, ordinary Muslim take control of his life and hound these gormless extremists from tarnishing Islam? Will Malays with common sense finally make a stand? Or do they agree that the Cactus Brand mineral water is only a side show to distract us from the other farce, the Sodomy II trial, and other issues like the KLIA2 flooding, the mudslides in Cameron Highlands, the GST, and the 1MDB debacle?



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