Monday, March 9, 2009

Made-in-Malaysia Islam? (Shamed But Not Ashamed, Pt.2)

Masjaliza Hamzah (Program Manager at Sisters in Islam) shared some pro-human rights/dignity quotes from the Qur'an and Hadith which I'm sure many present were grateful to know. I for one had my (stereo)-typical concerns about Islam somewhat relaxed when I heard that the faith's holy books included verses like:
  • "He who conceals the nakedness of a brother concels his own nakedness" (and positive flip-side of,"He who exposes the nakedness of another exposes his own")

  • "Do not enter the houses of others without permission" (you're allowed to asked three times)

  • "Greeting precedes conversation"(!)

  • "Suspicion is akin to lying" (not the exact words but it amounts to something similar)
The verses seem clear. So what's up in Malaysia?

It would appear that either a) some people don't give a damn or b) some people interpret these passages 'in the light of' other perhaps more control-oriented ones (evangelicals shouldn't bat at eyelid at this, right?) or, Hamzah's next point, c) Malaysia's brand of Islam adopts a  more active role in the moral regulation of its members.

Unfortunately, women get a raw deal on this whole moral-policing thing. It was news to me that Muslim women participating in beauty contests could be arrested but not male body-builders!

A thought I was playing around with in this context: Is such skewed law enforcement a feature of Islam in Malaysia or would it be characteristic of the religion in most/all places its practised? Are the women in the Middle-East treated substantially better, for example?

It would also have been interesting to hear Hamzah's response to Khir Toyo's 'stone-casting' of Elizabeth Wong, "How can she (a single women) allow a man into her room?" - from an Islamic standpoint, was there anything 'wrong' with Toyo's remarks? Putting aside his (and her) partisan loyalties, how should a faithful adherent of Islam respond when a non-Muslim woman gets intimate with a Muslim man, and when this woman declares she has 'broken no law'? Also, what would be the reaction if it was a Muslim lady instead of Wong?

Sharon Bong would ask similar questions later (e.g. "How would Wong's defenders have reacted if the photos were taken with her consent and/or if she was gay?"), except her line of questioning was directed more towards the (potentially) unexamined sexual norms cum 'prejudices' of the public.

In the questions above, however, the spotlight is on the Islamic (and later the Christian) faith itself - what (agreed upon?) provisions and priorities are in place for dealing with a victim who may also have committed morally questionable acts?

Next up, Sharon Bong...(see start of series here)

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