Selamat Hari Raya

Selamat Hari Raya

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri! Maaf zahir dan batin.

A very happy Raya to all Muslims. I apologise for any offense inadvertently given over the past year.

I know I was supposed to put up another BAH entry, but since it’s Raya tomorrow, we’re taking a holiday too! BAH returns next week, featuring a very Magical Mars Bars!

Religion and Choices

This post was originally published on my Facebook profile yesterday. Reproducing it here today because of the Allah appeal that is currently happening.

So today it finally struck me. I mean, I know this intellectually, but this is the first time I’ve felt the truth of it hit hard in the gut.

Why in the world are we so preoccupied with someone else’s religion?

Religion isn’t a numbers game. It’s not a competition where the religion with the most followers automatically win the world, or God’s favour and blessings on them forever. If you have your beliefs, then so be it. You have your faith in your God, and I have my faith in my Goddess. Pure and simple. When you die, if there is an afterlife, then you’ll be answerable to your God. That is all. God’s going to ask you what you did. He’s not going to reward the entire religious organisation without evaluating the sum of its parts.

And so if you have faith in your God and religion, then nothing can turn you away from it. Having someone curse you, drinking holy water, air zam zam or wailing at the Wall isn’t going to turn you away from the religion of your CHOICE.

Yes, that is the keyword.


No one can force you to believe in a faith you do not have. You may have doubts about your faith, you may have doubts about God’s existence, you may even doubt that your deity is the person you thought they were.

But here’s the thing: It’s YOU.

You make the choice to believe in them. YOU make the choice to hold on to your faith. YOU make the choice to believe in the tenets of your faith, to keep to it, and to hold it sacred and practice for as long as you shall live or so choose.

No one, but YOU yourself.

Belief is, as you grow older, a personal choice. There is no one who holds a gun to your head and say “BELIEVE IN MY WORD THAT PIGS WILL FLY” and you will believe in your heart, unless you choose to. Someone may take your hand, put a pen in it, and then write “I AM A BELIEVER” with your hand, but if you do not believe it in your head, then it is meaningless.

So stop pushing the responsibility for your faith onto others. I cannot slap you and make you believe that my Goddess is greater than yours, unless you choose to believe my words. By that token, you cannot force belief in me that your God and religion is really greater than mine.

Stop thinking that drinking holy water, walking by a church or into a mosque, listening to Buddhist chants and/or smelling temple incense is going to turn you away from your religion. HAVE FAITH IN YOUR RELIGION LA!

**Note: I have deliberately left out times when you doubt the existence of God in this essay, aka nights of the soul.

Photo of the Day

Erkyah Badu in tears at Malaysian concert cancellation announcement

What good is religion if you push out love if it’s not in your comfort zone?
Erkyah Badu, 29 March 2012

Alt text reads: Erkyah Badu in tears at Malaysian concert cancellation announcement

Honestly, if you can’t reject love because it’s not in your comfort zone… What kind of a person are you?

Stop Policing Women’s Bodies

Dear Friends,

But particularly those in the US. Especially if you’re in Mississippi, which I doubt that most of you are.

Please sign this petition to stop the redefinition of personhood. The Attorney General of Mississippi is proposing legislation that would define personhood to have begun from the moment of conception.

With that redefinition, you’re considered a human being from the moment conception happens. Which means abortion is not an option. Not for rape. Not for incest. Not even if the mother’s and child’s life is threatened by the child in her belly.

In fact, it also means you can’t take birth control pills. Or morning after pills. Anything that might prevent conception. A woman is thereby reduced to being nothing than a brood mare. To be nothing but an animal to receive a man’s sperm and carry that baby to term. Her wishes have no say.

This is not a campaign to define what it means to be a human. It’s a campaign to remove the meaning of being human. It removes choice. It removes the right of women to make their own decision for what happens in their bodies.

This is not about being anti-abortion. It’s about the state saying to women, “You MUST have babies. If you have sex, too bad. You must now carry it to term. If you have a disease that will kill you, too bad, the clump of cells in your tummy must be birthed. If you have been raped, too bad. You must live with the trauma for another 9 months.”

Oh yes. Miscarriage would be considered manslaughter. Miscarriage.

If you feel as disgusted as I do, please sign the petition. And no, it doesn’t matter if you’re from the US or not. A message needs to be sent. Our bodies are our own. The State should not, and cannot, be allowed to have a say in it.

In case you’re wondering, I’m writing this because the thought of having the state, even if the state is not my own, having the state control my body is terrifying. I can’t do much but spread the word, and hope that it gets to the right people.

[Politics/Religion] Walking into a mosque

So, a few weeks ago, a DAP MP walked into a mosque to present a cheque for Raya, which is coming soon. She says that she had been invited by the mosque committee to enter the prayer hall and to give a speech. Obliging them on both counts, she then spoke to them about the state government’s (Selangor’s) education programme. Utusan and quite a few BN-related papers got a hold of the story and went to town with it.

A good chunk and summary of the whole case can be found on the Nut Graph.

My personal take on it?

If this picture is true, and it seems to be, then I do agree that the MP in question, Teo Nie Ching, did commit a faux pas in entering the mosque. Her faux pas isn’t that she was a non-Muslim entering the prayer hall of a mosque, but that she did not demonstrate enough respect to the religion. i.e. I believe she should have worn at least a loose head covering, which she seems to have done so at a later function.

It’s unfortunate though, that a simple gesture as visiting the house of worship of another religion has been turned into a political issue. Make no mistake. I don’t see this as a religious issue at all, not when there are Muslim scholars, even within Malaysia, who see no wrong in a non-Muslim visiting a mosque if they have business to conduct with said Muslims. No, I do not mean scholars like Nik Aziz who does have a political stake in the outcome.

I’m talking about Selangor’s own mufti (a Muslim scholar who is, as Google tells me, also empowered to proscribe a fatwa or Islamic religious ruling) Mohd Tamyes Abdul Wahid who wrote a letter that stated,

“According to history, the Prophet (while he lived) in Medina did not repulse any visits by Jews or Christians who wanted to meet him even when he was in the mosque of Medina,” said Tamyes in the letter addressed to Jais’ chief assistant director in charge of mosques. They would come with a request, seeking justice (in a dispute) or for an administrative or other matter. It is understood from such incidents that there is no prohibition in Islam for meetings to be held within mosques other than the Masjid Al-Haram in blessed Makkah so long as they are held with good intentions.”

That view is also shared by former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin who believes there is nothing wrong with a non-Muslim visiting a mosque as long as it was with good intentions, also quoted in the same piece.

So, from my point of view, this is not a religious matter at all. This is a simple misunderstanding that has been blown out of proportions to make it look like a religious attack when it is none. I wonder, does this cancel the fasts of all those who claim that Teo is a dirty person thus for entering a mosque?