What were these stupid ulamas thinking?

Reported in The Star today, it seems that several Islamic leaders that were holding a conference in Ipoh, Perak, were not very happy about the Kongsi Raya celebrations as they feared it might be wrong according to Islamic law. Thus, they wanted the whole concept reviewed to ensure that Muslim's are not doing the wrong thing by having the Kongsi Raya celebrations.

You can read the full article here.

No prizes for guessing what my reaction was.

I just could not help but feel that this is another step by the conservative leaders in the Islamic community trying to enforce a strict code of law governing the Muslims. These ulamas are looked upon by the community as resected teachers of the faith and the know-it-alls. And I fear that the threat to the Muslim community is not some festival celebrations aimed to promote unity and understanding but these ulamas. These ulamas are the real threat to national unity and the peace and harmony of this country.

Note that I am not slamming the faith or the religion itself, I am not that kind of person who thinks my own faith is better anyone else. In a perfect world, I would've liked to call  myself an atheist, but no, I have come to believe that there is a God and this God is only concerned that all of us human beings do good regardless of who we are and what God we believe in. I'd say the same thing and give the same treatment if it were hardline Buddhist monks or radical Christian fundamentlists that said we should not be celebrating other people's festivals because it'll make us question our own faith and cause us to be 'wayward'.

This was exactly what was implied by Ulama Conference 2006 working committee chairman Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria who said "this was necessary because the National Fatwa Committee had decided that celebrating the festivals of other religions could erode the faith of Muslims and could lead to blasphemy." 

That's nothing but a load of bullcrap and bollocks which I feel that the ulamas had better wise up to. That conclusion the National Fatwa Committee had come to is seriously flawed. While I am not a cleric or a religious scholar, I am inclined to believe in common sense which tells me that if by celebrating other people's festival would make a person lose his/her beliefs so easily, then it would be the fault of that person because he/she has no confidence and no faith in her own beliefs in the first place. It would also be the fault of that person's religious teacher who probably had not taught him/her well and had caused him/her to be so easily disillusioned by his/her own faith.

Perhaps that is why the ulamas wanted to curb other Muslims from participating and celebrating other people's festivals because it'll make them question their beliefs because they (the ulamas) themselves had not been doing a good job in guiding their followers. So, they proceeded to blame their shortcomings on the practice of celebrating other people's festivals. I have only one advice to these ulamas – "Ya better think long and hard about what you're gonna say next time, instead of shooting your mouths off like that!"

Malaysia, being a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society, has no place for these sort of ulamas. 'Kongsi Raya' was coined because Hari Raya (the Muslim New Year) in Malaysia often coincides with the festivities of other races such the Chinese New Year, the Hindu's Festival of Lights and Christmas at one point or another. The act of celebrating the festivals together and going to open houses was a way for the people to foster strong relations, harmony and understanding with one another. It also allows people to learn about each other's cultural practices and promote unity among the races. This is what makes Malaysia so unique among other countries in the world. Do we see any 'Kongsi Raya' in the United States or Indonesia or Australia?

The ulamas want to prevent Muslim folk from celebrating the festivals of other cultures. This will only further isolate the community from the rest of people in the country. It just simply does not bode well for the future of the country if such a split happens. The only way for the Government and the country to work is to ensure that the people mingle together and work together in understanding, in harmony and in tolerance.

Therfore, in conclusion, the people, especially the Muslim community, must stand up for their rights and reject the prejudicial and bigoted comments of the ulamas such as those in the National Fatwa Committee and those like Harussani Zakaria (how the heck did he get the title 'Datuk Seri'? It should be stripped from him!). The Muslim community must understand that they are not answerable to these so-called ulamas and that their faith and whatever they chose to believe is between themselves and their God alone. The ulamas should just butt out of the picture.

There, ah had muh say. I'm getting tired with this stupid notions perpetrated by so-called Muslim leaders. They are an utter embarrassment to their own kind and to the followers of their own faith. First, these leaders never show respect to the women in the country. Then, we had Muslim political leaders from PAS saying that demonstrations are allowed in Islam and in democracy. Now, we have these stupid, insensitive remarks from the ulamas about celebrating other people's festivals. I pity my fellow countrymen from the Muslim community who had to live with this crappy, inane leaders every day and hear the hate and intolerance spewing forth from their mouths.

What's next, I wonder?

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  1. Corgan

    “I pity my fellow countrymen from the Muslim community who had to live with this crappy, inane leaders every day and hear the hate and intolerance spewing forth from their mouths.”

    LOFL, you think you’re representing the WHOLE Muslim community or what?

    Firstly, just because the Muslims leaders whom you lambasted does not allign themselves with your way or thinking, you think they’re not fit to be leaders, hence your accusation of “these so-called Muslims leaders”.

    Your yourself is NOT a Muslim, do don’t even think of “symphatize” or claim to speak on their behalf.

    Secondly, just because they think that Muslims celebrating festivals of other religions are a form of blasphemy doesn’t mean that they think other religions are offensive and wrong. Consider that believers might risk practicing pagan rituals or partake in any form of celebration that might be forbidden in Islam, I understand their need to be “defensive”.

    Say you have a booze-drinking binge. Your Muslim friend doesn’t want to join your party, but wishes you to have a good time. Since he didn’t want to join your booze-drinking binge, do you consider his gesture offensive?

    Last but not least, consider Voltaire’s quote, “I might not agree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to do so.”

    I’m not a Muslim, but I feel if Datuk Zakaria or any conservative Muslim feels that they have the right to defend their own religion according to their interpretation of the Quran or Hadith he has my support. Datuk Zakaria might seem to be a “wowser” trying to stop spreading of liberalism in media, but at least he’s not proposing that non-Muslim women in police force should wear headscarves in parades.

  2. Ha, I suppose you could be right, Corgan, but I am happy to disagree. Thanks for your input on this touchy matter, when I posted this, I half-expected the police to haul me up like the Singaporean authorities did to their bloggers.

    First of, no where in my article did I mention that I am speaking on their behalf and representing the views of the Muslim. I sympathise with them as a fellow human being, nothing more.

    But anyways, as I have said, conservatism just doesn’t have a place in the world today, In my books anyways. I believe conservatism is holding back our progress. Just because some people interpret things differently, it doesn’t mean that we have to follow their opinion. I may not be Muslim, and I won’t pretend to be well-versed in the religion, heck, common sense tells me that what they’re saying is simply dumb, especially coming from respected religious figures.

    Heck, don’t throw Voltaire’s quote at me. You should know that I am very much a believer of that principle of freedom of speech and the freedom to express your views. Datuk Zakaria can say all that he wants, I’m just countering whatever he said, not that I’m asking him to stop making such comments about the practices of this country. Anyways, the reactions from the government and the English dailies has been good, and there were fellow Muslims who didn’t like what was proposed by the ulamas.

    Regarding that booze example, it’s sad really that there are still people who don’t respect other people’s religious beliefs and practices. It’s something that we must teach to our youngsters.

    All in all, I stand by all that I have said. Liberalism and open-mindedness rules the day.

  3. Corgan

    In your opinion conservatism doesn’t hold a place for the world today. So does the conservatives who thinks liberalism poisons the soul. Which brings us to the Middle East. Rabbis wants Israel to “take” care of the Palestinian problem while ulamaks wants Israel to be pushed to the sea. No wonder some people wanted both sides to be nuked off the map.

    Like it or not, there will be people who are content and want the world to stay back at the Middle Ages. You will have to respect their beliefs if you want them to respect yours.

    You don’t get about the booze-drinking parable? You are accusing the guy who didn’t want to join your booze-drinking party as being intolerant. It’s not like in return he’s asking you to stop organizing the party! The people you should be attacking are the people in the government who have no qualms about forcing non-Muslim policewomen to wear headscarves in parades. Datuk Zakaria is just trying to defend his religion. Those people I mentioned is different.

  4. Well, Corgan, we can talk and debate about this till the cow comes home and no one in the world would really care about two insignificant voices among the millions of people out there going on and on about the very same thing we're discussing here.

    Eh, you misunderstood me again about the booze drinking parable. I wasn't accusing the guy who didn't want to join the booze party as being intolerant – I was accusing the others who invited him in the first place when they ought to have known about that guy's religious beliefs. Which was why I lament the lack of understanding among the youngsters today regarding understanding and respecting the faiths and religion of other people. More should be done to educate our young on this matter.

    And yes, I absolutely agree with you regarding the government folks who enforce the wearing of tudung on non-Muslim policewomen. That's already imposing the religious code of others on another person of a different religion.

  5. journeyofadreamer

    Oy vay…

    Hmm… let’s see if we can understand them. If it’s doing it conjunctively as in, the Malays have to put up red dragon decor and start kow-towing to their ancestors etc., then I can understand their concern…

    But if it’s just two festivals going on at one go, I pray they will either wake up or just fry their brains in oil. Apparently it’s not well done enough.




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