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Ramadhan test: a misplaced patience!

This Ramadhan has proven to be a testing one for Muslim. I am not talking about Egypt, the country still in turmoil after the military coup that was publicised as “not really a coup”. I am not talking about the bloodshed in Syria, not the “not yet peaceful and free” Iraq after the US “liberate” the country from Saddam dictatorship. I am not talking about any part of Muslim world that are being tested with a number of calamities, I am talking about Malaysia, a peaceful moderate Muslim nation.

This Ramadhan, we are tested with a number of issues that continue to be stirred and spun off. Just before the month begins, we were surprised by the withdrawal of the Section 107(b) of Administration of Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 that was supposed to be tabled in the parliament. The act among others touches on the issue of conversion from other religion to Islam. The act that was supposed to protect the rights of those converts on determining the religion for their children. After, some negative media coverage and pressure from various non-muslim groups, the cabinet decided to withdraw the bill. If a Muslim country can no longer protect the right of those converted to Islam, then what more can we expect from the so-called Muslim country. What is more concerning is the apparent lack of courage from the Muslim politicians from both sides of the table, the government and the opposition to speak out on this issue, perhaps in fear of losing support from the non-muslim supporters. The rhetoric claim that they are the protector and the fighter for Islam during the election campaign was never apparent.

Then, just when the Ramadhan started, there was the infamous insult by the two immoral couple that have brought shame time and again. After some huge coverage and nationwide condemnation, charges were laid on the couple. The distressing fact of this episode is that there are also voices among the Muslim whom appeal for leniency and ask the Muslim to forgive and forget. They seem to be confused with the statement that Islam is a mercy upon mankind, and doesn’t seems to realised that there is a duty to protect the sanctity of Islam. I remember tweeting “#Ramadhan month of piety & spiritualism, also month of jihad & struggle. Islam: mercy to mankind with honor that won’t tolerate humiliation!” in response to the scenario. It seems that Muslims only know IZZAH as a name of a politician and don’t seems to appreciate the meaning.

The Ramadhan tests continue, now with the fiasco by the few Muslim beauty pageant contestants, challenging the ban for Muslims in joining such body-showing contest. Now, JAWI is being pressured to review the ban and I pray that the authority would not budge even for an inch.

The Ramadhan test also come with some racial sentiments being stirred. A photo of a few Indian pupils eating in a room of what appeared to be a toilet was circulated and gaining attention nationwide. The picture seems to suggest that due to the month of Ramadhan, these non-muslim pupils were forced to eat in the toilet so that the Muslim students whom are fasting will not be disturbed. When the clarification being made by the parties involved, the damages have been done. Although it was clear that the room is a changing room and not a toilet and the makeshift canteen have been there since March due to the renovation work at the school canteen, the perception built cannot be easily erased by a simple click of the delete button. The fact is everybody used the makeshift canteen 4 months prior to Ramadhan. The photo was taken recently in Ramadhan and that is the reason why there are only Indian pupils in the photo. Damage is done. It is now a race relation issue that require the deputy minister from the Prime Minister`s Department to have a visit. The school headmaster was asked to go on leave.

One of the biggest tests so far is the landmark judgement by Judicial Commissioner Lee Swee Seng in declaring that the conversion certificates of the three children – Prasana Diksa, five; Tevi Darsiny, 16; and Karan Dinish, 15 – null and void and the conversion is unconstitutional. This is really a landmark judgement, marking a direct interference and intervention by a civil court in the matters of the Religion of Islam.

With all the tests listed, it is clear that the media played the issue and most of the time; the spin-doctor seems to be playing their roles. The status quo, the place of Islam in the Malaysian law, culture, life and social-structure seems to take the beatings day by day. What is appalling is the silence of the Muslim politicians, and the stand taken by the various Muslim organisations that continue to play down the issue and prefer to see the various attacks and insults at various levels as unconnected events with minor consequences.

Frankly, this is a process of de-sensitization.  Wikipedia defines it as follows: “In psychology, desensitization (also called inurement) is defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it.”

After prolonged exposure to these sorts of attacks, do we wake up and stand up to protect ourselves or we become desensitized?

I remember my conversation with a Muslim from Ismailiah, Egypt whom I met coincidentally at Masjidil Haram after the Hajj in 2011, in his words; “it is crucial to see the development in Malaysia, where many religions and ideologies collide in a peaceful environment, that some will not even realised that there is some form of struggle and collision.” At that time, Egypt have not yet elected the president with a lot of uncertainties in the horizon. Truly, we are facing a different kind of test.

I pray that we will come out of this successfully, passing the test in flying colours.

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