Musings, Religion, Reviews

Muallaf

When I find a friend who has turned away from religion… it usually means that he’s angry. So who were the Christians who made you angry at Christianity?
Rohani to Brian, Muallaf.

The thing about Yasmin Ahmad films is that I usually walk away from them pensive (Gubra). Sad (Sepet). And in some cases, heartbroken (Sepet again). Yasmin Ahmad movies rarely end on a good note, but they are usually slow, gentle journeys that make you ponder, lazing on the river with a random pop in the water you’d expect now and then from the water lifeforms. At the end of such expeditions, I would usually be saddened that it’d come to an end, no matter what the ending was.

Not so with Muallaf.

Muallaf left me feeling that the lazy ride had been a motorboat, with the occasional stop to refuel. It felt fast, was a little monotonous, but ultimately funny and thought-provoking. I squirmed in my seat hearing Rohani say the above quote to Brian. The lines were true. They described me. I could not though, remember what it was that made me stop going for Mass.

Rohana and Rohani were in a world of their own, but not in the self-deluded kind. They were secure in their faith; strong women in their own right. Rohana was a precocious young girl; mischievious yet ultimately looking out for her sister. She spoke when her sister could not, or did not want to. Rohana, the older one, was a woman of strength, and not just because she was raising her sister on her own. She had this firm, unyielding but gentle core of faith.

I envy that.

Brian Yap made me uncomfortable. He’s a pervert, but perhaps not that different from other men I know. He’s an introvert, but I find it hard to excuse his behaviour to his mom, mainly because of the way he speaks to her. If I’m not wrong, he’s also a typical Hokkien Penangite when it comes to money. I admit that I would make Mrs Yap pay the extra RM2, simply because she’s the type who likes to show off.

What made me uncomfortable about Brian is that I am very much like him, spiritually. He’s not going to Church because the so-called Christians humiliated him. I abandoned the Mass service because I could not stand the hypocrisy of my family.

I stopped going to Church because while I believed there was a God, I found it hard to believe that this same God would disallow love between two men. To condemn those who needed Him the most. The same God whose followers killed each other because of self-importance. The very same God who said He gave us free will, yet
demand that we surrender it for a reward that was vague at best. 

It is not God who is on trial though, but our interpretations of Him here.

Yet while Muallaf may come off as preachy to some, I found the film thought-provoking. At the most basic level, it’s a fun film, a typical Yasmin Ahmad film with its share of tender-hearted moments and funny scenes. Scratch the surface and there’s so much more to discover. Muallaf makes me uncomfortable, and for all the right reasons. It makes you think, makes you reexamine what it means to be a Muslim, Christian, a child of faith.

It is a movie of faith.

Muallaf was sponsored by the All Malaysian Bloggers’ Portal. Thanks to Michael and sponsors for the tickets to catch the Gala Premiere last night.