4 am Thoughts

Up at 4 am doing some research for my assignment when I decided to take a break and scroll through Facebook ( like I did four minutes ago.Shh). I quickly go through my timeline, trying to resist the urge to NOT take another Buzzfeed test and then I come across a certain post.

Let me just say that recently, I was writing another article to post up on the blog about how we ought to understand one another better and not hate the other person for having a different opinion – whether or not that opinion is them supporting Trump or thinking women need to stay at home. I said in the post that if we all learned to respect what someone else had to say no matter how much we hated it or how offensive it was, that maybe we could change their minds for the better someday.

But that is so so difficult to do when you come across people on your very own friendlist who blatantly post things they know will hurt you. And trust me, I only keep family and close friends on my Facebook, so this person belonged somewhere in between. He isn’t just some stranger, we are technically family.

I’m not saying you need to refrain yourself from having an opinion with the fear of offending someone (in which case we would have to stop saying anything altogether), but I think you can do it with a little more tact and respect. I like being blunt, but I stop short when I know it will hurt or discriminate someone else.

I’m not one who gets offended easily. In fact, I make fun of people who do and most of the time, I’m at the receiving end of my own jokes. But heck, every once in a while like right now, it gets a little too much. I’m tired of seeing stereotypical posts about Muslims and Muslim women on Facebook. I’m tired of seeing people confuse an entire culture as a representation of an entire religion – they are two very different things. Tired of all the political hate and everything else. I want a week where the worst thing we will see on the news is a puppy being rescued from a tree, or a cat. Whatever.

I don’t understand. You criticize Muslims and Muslim women and you view them from this little peeping hole. I would get it if you don’t know any Muslims at all, but you do. You know me and you know I don’t fit into that stupid stereotype you group us all in. But you refuse to believe in that because it’s not what you want to see.

Why are we so hateful ?

 

Ramadan, Bazaars and Racial Unity

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The past month in Malaysia has been full of opinions and discussion from Muslims about what is proper and what is not.

This coming Wednesday marks the end of Ramadan – the Muslim holy month. In case you’re not familiar with this, Muslims spend the month fasting from food and water (among other things) from sunrise to sunset. In a nutshell, this is to put ourselves in the shoes of those who are less fortunate – to know what it’s like to want what you can’t have, basically.

On one end you have extremos telling your non-Muslim friends to not eat in front of them and on the other you have normal Muslims like me who try to tell you why that defeats the sole purpose of Ramadan. The again, this worrying mentality is slowly becoming another norm in Malaysia lately.  When we’re not arguing about racial politics, some religious folks will try to justify why their way is better than yours. It makes me sad that a country I was always proud to be a part of for its beauty and diversity is slowly birthing self entitled assholes from every corner. Our new generation is disgusting.

Then again, it’s not always like this.

With Malaysia being a Muslim majority country, Ramadan is kind of a big deal here, whether that person is Muslim or not. There are non-Muslims who fast with their Muslim friends too as a sign of solidarity or just for fun.

But the best part about all of this would have to be the Ramadan bazaars found in almost every housing area. The delicious food spread and colorful drinks are worth drooling over.

These bazaars consists of families and businesses serving their food on tables, with royal blue tents, shielding them from the sun. It’s usually very noisy due to everyone talking about their day at work /school and the sound of  ladles hitting against the frying pans – the sign of food being freshly prepared for customers.

Oh yes, the food! Don’t get me started on the food.

They have everything from kuih lapis, ondeh-ondeh, seri muka to nasi lemak, deep fried squid, ayam golek percik, asam laksa,  ikan bakar and a spread of traditional malay curries and sambals. The drinks range from coconut water to blue lemon drinks – they tend to go a little overboard with the coloring on this one. But well, after 14 hours of hunger and thirst, you’d be surprised at what you walk out of the bazaar with.

Seeing multiracial shoppers (yep, you could call them that because everyone comes back from it with morbid amounts of food that make them look like they just walked out from a sale) walking together, laughing and interacting. Everything seems so simple and calm. Nobody seems to be divided by the politics or bothered with the outside world.

I’m sorry if I made you think Malaysians are racist during the remaining 11 months. We truly are not. But like I said, a lot of things have been happening lately. Ideologies are being spread, religious teachings are being corrupted and people of faith are being stereotyped. Even when someone doesn’t openly state what they truly feel towards a certain group of people, it’s not something you can hide. Sometimes, even I get tired of the constant bullshit.

It’s so easy to hate, isn’t it?

Which is why I look forward to the evenings just to see this calmness amidst the crowd. Yesterday I saw a lady donate money to a man in the bazaar and then I watched as a couple of women walked down the street in their old fashioned kebayas. One stall started blasting old Hari Raya music. Everything about that day felt so good.

This morning in the wet market, an elderly woman randomly made conversation with my mum and I while we were busy picking out chilies. She asked us what we were cooking and I told her it was for the beef rendang. And to think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning due to having only two hours of sleep last night. I just felt better instantly. She lady’s friendliness really did brighten up both my mum’s and my day.

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Picking fresh fish from the market this morning.

Too bad this month is coming to an end in a matter of days. I see racial and religious unity around me in the way my friends and I respect each other all the time, so I’m no stranger to the beauty of it. But there is truly nothing better than seeing different people bonding together over food.

xx

Kelly

P.S: Hari Raya literally translates to ‘day of celebration’ , which is the Malaysian way of saying ‘Eid-il-fitri’, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Moderate Islam Does Not Exist

This is not a post with figures and statistics. If that’s what you’re looking for, you might get them here . This is simply a long overdue vent. 

There is no such thing as moderate Islam.

To say that such a fraction of Islam exists would be equivalent to saying that there is a part of Islam that’s radical.

Following that simple logic, this would mean that at least a billion of the Muslim population are colossal sinners for disregarding such a large part of the religion’s teachings.

The second a Muslim chooses to take the words of the Quran out of context and self interpret it according to their view of the world, they are forming an ideology.

Like Reza Aslan once pointed out, if you’re a sexist, you’re going to find scriptures in the Quran that support that. The same thing applies if you’re a terrorist, a bigot or racist. We interpret things according to how we want to see them to justify our way of thought.

“How you read scripture has everything to do with who you are,” Reza said.

We often overlook the thin line separating religion from ideology don’t we?

Terrorist groups such as ISIS, were formed on extreme and violent ideas and as such, have no place in ANY society. To say that they have taken their Islamic teachings out of context would be a massive understatement.

Let me tell you something. In my country where Islam is the official religion, I was obligated to take Islamic religious classes for the 11 years of my primary and secondary education. There was nothing in any of those classes that anyone could simply misinterpret for something violent or incite murder. If any of my classmates ended up turning into those two things, it would have come from influences outside the classroom. Perhaps from friends, the movies they watched or private ‘religious’ sermons they attended. Again, it is a person’s misconstrued idea of how the world should work that slowly births the rotten products of what we see in the news today.

Since the attacks in Paris, I found myself feeling obligated to share anything positive regarding Islam in relation to the assault in the French capital..Anything that points out the obvious logic, that this is not an Islamic problem, but a terrorist one. It is a problem committed by radicals who used an easily and already victimized religion to justify their actions because the Western media has made it so easy to do so.

This has become routine for me and other ‘moderate’ Muslims on social media. We end up on some comment thread discussing what originally starts off as a debate that ends with us defending our religion from bigots.

It’s either that, or we end up trying to prove our innocence by releasing statements such as “Not all Muslims are like that” and apologizing for something we didn’t do when in reality, it’s 2015 and we shouldn’t have to explain these things anymore. Not to adults.

I’m so tired of having to defend my religion and the other 1.6 billion Muslims in the world every time an act of terror is committed. Like as if we had a part in the heinous crimes these animals do. I’m tired of having to explain time and time again that Islam does not advocate for violence or the murder of innocent people. I’m tired of telling society that Muslims are nothing like what the media paints us to be.

I hate that it has somewhat become the responsibility of Muslims to be the ambassador or spokesperson for terrorism.

To my fellow Muslims, please stop apologizing. It is not our fault that we were born into a brutal world with endless stereotypes.

For those questioning why there aren’t enough Muslims speaking up against ISIS and their reign of terror, stop.

We don’t speak for them and neither do they speak for us. They do not represent Islam, the same way Jim David Adkisson or the Klu Klux Klan do not represent Christianity.

We are supposed to send condolonces, write messages of love to the families of the victims and partake in campaigns alongside our non-Muslim brothers and sisters  in taking a stand against a group of cowardly dingbats.

Their Islam is different from ours. It is alien, even to us. It is merely a shell of a name, nothing more. If you desperately want someone to speak up against these acts, get an IS recruit to do it.. Not us.

By the way, we’re called Muslims, not Islamists.

With that being said, the word ‘terrorist’ is for people who commit acts of terror, or someone who brings terror to the mass or a certain community.

Was James Holmes not a terrorist?  Did Vincente David Montano not bring terror to the people in that Antioch theater? What about the two teens who went on a shooting rampage at the Columbine high school? John Russel Houser?  Oh right, those are called mass murderers, not terrorists. You need special qualifications if you want to join the ranks of the latter.

Before I end this, let us remember that there is no such thing as moderate Islam or radical Islam – just Islam.

People can turn radical and they can also choose to practice their faith moderately, but that ultimately has nothing to do with the faith they practice.