March 2, 2012

Where Are We?

In the aftermath of Erykah Badu’s cancelled concert, I quietly reflect on it and the responses that I read and heard. Everyone has an opinion why Malaysia is a backward nation or how phobia of war on Islam is spreading. If you google the story, you can even read comments that non-Malaysians are giving. Some angry, and some surprisingly understanding.

I can’t really call myself Erykah Badu’s fan, I don’t know her songs though I am sure I have enjoyed them now and again. I enjoy listening to R&B and Soul music. I just don’t really bother finding out the title of the songs and who sing them… :-)

Let’s look at the issue generally. Any country has a right to refuse entry of a person, for any possible reason they can come out with. It’s the right of the government. It’s their country. Even from international business perspective, a country can forbid foreign companies operating locally to send back their profit to their parent company in their own country; if they see it to be economically fit. Malaysia did this once during the economic downturn in late 90s. This is to protect the country’s economy.

Some country even stop the operations of foreign company and all foreign workers are deported. This happens. All the time.

Yes, Malaysia has made the international news for revoking rights to perform or reject the application altogether for a number of international artists. We’ve done it before, we just did it this week, I’m pretty sure we’ll do it again in future. Regardless whether it is politically motivated or not.

Yesterday morning, the Executive Officer of Centre for Independent Journalism of Malaysia was interviewed by BFM on this issue. She said something about not to expect non-Muslim to know or understand the meaning behind the Arabic characters. She also said that what happened is due to political mileage, and some people are trying to say Islam is being attacked in Malaysia. I beg to differ.

We have to understand the American culture. They are mostly individualistic bunch of people, with little regards of other people feelings. And this is not just a generalisation, this is based on research. With this mentality, what they do, is basically for themselves. To them, the arabic word is just art, just like the cross, star of David even the tree of life. They can make fun of their religion, and they will not be chastise for it; so much. I’m sure there are still prudent and respectful, God fearing Americans. But get this, they are so detached that most of the times they don’t realise what they do are affecting other people in different ways.

So, I ask you now; as a Malaysian, do you not see that our society is still pretty much communal and reserved? What response were you expecting other than anger when the picture came out. True enough for some of us so called “liberal” Muslims, we do not mind. But let me tell you, it is because we are slowly becoming individualistic ourselves. So what if some people are crying foul over the tattoo? Let them be. At least, there are still people out there brave enough to stand up for their religion, for people to learn to respect this Almighty being we prostate ourselves to.

I haz a little sadness. It has been said that the weakest stage of Iman is to disagree in silence, in the heart. I was thinking to myself, do I even fall in this category? I saw the picture of Erykah Badu with the tattoo long time ago. But unobservant as I was, I didn’t even realise there was a tattoo spelt “Allah”… I feel sad. Is it because I am so detached from my religion, that I am becoming ignorant of things like these? Have I slowly becoming too “liberal” that I do not care when other people are using my religion carelessly?

Yes, they may not understand, and they may not care. But hey, I as a Muslim myself, shouldn’t it be part of my responsibility to educate people on my religion? To tell them, look, this thing that you think is only art, is very very much dear to Muslims. True it’s just a bunch of arabic characters, but it represents something so big that the characters do not do it justice. I should be able to make an impact, and make people realise that it is not something to be so casual about. But I should also be able to explain it in educative way, and not just shout foul.

Truthfully there are more important, vital things to be discussed with regards to being a good Muslim. But now and then Allah SWT throw to us a little challenge, a little test, for us to see and reflect how we react to it. And we should not just ignore it, at the very least, if it is bad, we could disagree in our hearts.

Sometimes we see artist changing their lifestyle to be more Islamic. Some people joke about them. At least they are making progress. True enough, they could pull the holier-than-thou attitude, but hey, that’s one of the weaknesses that they have to overcome. And for the rest of us, have we started to make the journey to be a better Muslim? For all we know, they might have more favours from Allah SWT than we could ever will get…

Anyway, for people to ask for revoking of The Star’s license is too much. Come on people. They have apologise. Move on. In this I agree with the EO of CIJM. Don’t go for blood just because you think it’s the way to go. Be matured, Islam is so much more gentle than that. Be a living example of it’s embodiment.

This is a long post. I’m tired. Have a great weekend ahead y’all. Take care! :-)