‘Tis the season to outdo each other. Fa la la la la la la la la…
Grinch and trolls roam the ‘Net. Fa la la la la la la la la…
Hand in hand with bigots and fund-ists. Fa la la la la la la la la…
Score more points for more support… Fa la la la la la la la la…
Wherever you may be there is always a battle royal over Christmas. Instead of embodying the spirit of giving, cheer, love, hope, peace and joy, it becomes a season to score political points and collect piety. Thanks to social media, it is easier now to track how much a person has done.
More Alike than Different
In the United States, saying “Merry Christmas” is a touchy issue (http://spectator.org/articles/57247/why-i-prefer-say-merry-christmas). So touchy that even the English – those who “invented” the English language – are annoyed (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/22/better-to-say-merry-christmas-or-happy-holidays). You cannot wish in the U.S. “Merry Christmas” without offending anyone! Why? Because “Happy Holidays” seem to be all-inclusive, politically correct and void of religious connotations. Because saying “merry Christmas” infringes on the rights and freedom of religion.
Coming back to home, greeting “Merry Christmas” is also a touchy issue!
Some Malaysians in West Malaysia, though resenting the Americans, seem to fit into the American fold perfectly! Their bigotry – irrespective of their position on the aisle – is resounding to those Americans they so despise.
In the U.S. a “pastor” calls for the burning of the al-Quran (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/09/11/221528510/pastor-terry-jones-arrested-before-planned-quran-burning). In Malaysia, some chuck calls for the burning of the Bible (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/23/us-malaysia-election-bibles-idUSBRE90M0JF20130123).
In the U.S. some conservatives condemn the wave of “liberalisation” and “new ideas”. Here there is no different. An employee is deemed guilty and persecuted for performing her contractual role (http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2013/06/26/Jawi-fails-in-stay-bid-on-court-order-quashing-case-against-Borders-store-manager.aspx). What is funny, though, is her employers were not persecuted. However Borders – Berjaya, the owner – are footing the legal costs on the employee’s behalf.
Wishing a person “Merry Christmas” is also an issue just as it is across the Pacific. Politically correct Americans are opting for “Happy Holidays”. Why? They do not want to offend “non-Christians” and to uphold the spirit of secularity (http://www.ibtimes.com/merry-christmas-or-happy-holidays-army-told-not-say-christmas-report-1519576). On the other hand in Malaysia, some quarters are claiming that a Muslim wishing Christians “Merry Christmas” is at risk of being an apostate. By uttering “Merry Christmas”, a Muslim may “convert out” of their religion and commit syirik. Syirik is the act of admitting there is an equal to the Almighty. Funny, though, when the Fatwa cited actually permits such greeting (Point 2 of the Fatwa – http://www.e-fatwa.gov.my/fatwa-kebangsaan/hukum-orang-islam-mengucapkan-tahniah-dan-ucapan-selamat-bersempena-perayaan-agama-).
(I do not believe in “Muslim God” or “Christian God” etc. on theological grounds. I am a monotheist. Admitting there is a God according to religion defeats the whole purpose of monotheism. Subtly you are admitting there is a God for one religion and another God. In effect you believe in more than one God. Thus, in my posts, I refer to one and only one Almighty. Theological expressions of the Trinity does not alter my belief in One God Almighty.)
To an extent that many – not most – Malaysians are saying: it is wrong for Muslims to emulate other religions. They claim this would make them lose their faith. It can confuse fellow Muslims of “weaker faith”. I don’t know about you, but I believe religions and ethics/morality (for non-religious) share many inherent principles: compassion, kindness, forgiveness, understanding, empathy, love, conservation, diligence, working hard, family first, contributions to society, striving for a better future etc. These are the traits that makes people be people. Good people of this world.
What is really happening?
Religion is a core issue. Whether a person believes in a deity, in multiple deities or in no deity, religion is at the core of her self-identity. Rattle it and she is yours. Politicians and pressure groups know this. Over the many ages of human civilisation, religion has been used as a tool to control the masses.
In the United States, Christian fundamentalists and media insist that there is a War against Christianity. Waves of commercialisation and ‘liberal’ movements are attacking the foundation of the ‘Christian faith’. Things like same-sex marriages, abortion, gender changes and the like. What the conservatives want to do is “preserve the American way”. On the international front, this group feeds the Christian groups of the persecution of the Christian faith overseas. Gleefully they cite religious tensions in Russia, Nigeria, Syria, Egypt, and Malaysia. Here the can portray themselves as the “Hero of the Faith”. And that the United States is the “beacon of Christianity”. Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, has been labelled by them (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sarah-palin-surprised-by-pope-francis-liberal-sounding-statements) (http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/12/andrew-napolitano-reacts-to-pope-francis-comments-on-economics/) (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/us/conservative-us-catholics-feel-left-out-of-the-popes-embrace.html?_r=0). The pockets and bank accounts of these politicians, however, says otherwise.
Elections showdown in May 2013 did not yield the desired results for either parties. UMNO-BN failed to capture the 2/3 majority for the second time. Pakatan Rakyat failed to oust Najib and install Anwar in Perdana Putra. Both sides have resorted to playing the religion card.
Just as there is a “War on Christianity” cooked up by the conservatives in the U.S., right-wing groups and bloggers have played the “War on Islam” card. Many who walk through the corridors of power insists on Judeo-Christian elements that seeks to destroy Islam. And in Malaysia, to destroy Islam, oust the Malay Rulers and leave the Malays to suffer economically. Funny enough the proponents are not only driving, but also driven from one lap of luxury to the next.
The real deal in Malaysia is we need a spin. Neither the Executive (Prime Minister) nor the Legislature (all members of the Parliament, BN or not) are effective in handling the problems that face ordinary Malaysians. Both sides of the political divide are playing the “wait-and-see” approach. Neither are interested in doing what is right and proper, both aims to do what is popular.
Because what is right and proper may not be popular. When you are not popular, less people votes for you. You need to be the “hero”, the “saviour” and the “good guy”.
Fact of the matter is many Malaysians think like me. We are completely and utterly fed up with the indoctrination and propaganda of both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. We vote according to our MPs/ADUN’s performance. We cannot vote on the merits of manifesto because neither party provides one comparable to those in the UK.
My fear is this: one day religion – be it Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism etc – will merely be a political or commercial commodity. The faithful will be misled and once again the dark ages will descend upon us. Yet I am optimistic. More and more people are speaking out against these manipulators:
- HM Queen Rania of Jordan – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151769563130826&set=a.122091220825.114696.77319320825&type=1
- HRH Raja Zarith Sofia, Sultanah of Johor – http://www.venusbuzz.com/archives/4242/raja-zarith-sofias-season-of-goodwill/
- Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Youth and Sports – https://www.facebook.com/Khairykj/posts/786169971399606
Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year. May the season of love, joy, peace and hope warmly embrace you and your family. I pray the Almighty continue to bless you no matter who or where you are.