29 April 2009

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.
Wednesday April 29, 2009
Justice for the deserving

Being religious means having honesty, integrity, sincerity and many other virtues that come with it. The Quran underscores that to be just is what being a faithful adherent is all about. And justice is not limited to only those of the same faith.

SYMBOLS , as we know, can be potent. One of those that many set great store by is the tudung, meant to signify religious identity and piety.

Presumably that identity comes also with religious quality, that is, you expect that anyone who wears it to display a certain level of behaviour and integrity.

The other day I had an experience that taught me never to expect too much from symbols. As I was about to pay for some coffee, I noticed the young female cashier had rung up a more expensive price than that quoted on the menu on the wall.

Fully expecting there to be a legitimate reason, I asked her why. To my shock, the look on her face spelt guilt and she hastily changed the price of my coffee.

It may well be that she was told by her management to add a little something to each bill because I don’t see how she could have personally benefited from it. But the point is that if one takes on religious symbols such as the tudung, one therefore needs to ensure that it means something.

Dishonesty is not one of them.

Which goes back to that old argument about form and substance in religion in this country.

It is perhaps unfortunate that Islam is the religion that most lends itself to public symbolism, mostly through dress. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the focus has entirely rested on women’s dress and not anything else.

So while we may take on the tudung as one step towards heaven, we don’t insist that it carries more weight than that, that is we expect honesty, integrity, sincerity and many other virtues to come with it.

The question will always be, does a dishonest person who wears a tudung or a kepiah have a better chance of going to heaven than one who doesn’t?

And if the answer is yes, then we have something seriously wrong with our value system that prizes the outward rather than the internal, the form over the substance.

One of the major themes of Islam is justice.

Over and over again, the Quran underscores that to be just is always what to be a faithful adherent is all about.

In Surah An-Nisa, Verse 35, God says: “O ye who believe! Be ye staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both (than ye are). So follow not passion lest ye lapse (from truth) and if ye lapse or fall away, then lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do.”

It says nothing about whom one has to be just to, except that they be those who deserve it. Certainly justice is not limited to only those of the same faith.

Thus, I welcome the announcement that minor-aged children of people who convert will be brought up in the original religion that their parents were when they got married.

This is to stop the sort of vindictive men who try to inflict as much as misery as they can on women they no longer love by trying to take away their children in any way they can.

Unfortunately, the state has only helped to support this vindictiveness by mostly refusing to decide on what is just.

But as they say, the proof of good intentions will always be in the pudding. These announcements must translate into fact.

Already the negative noises are out, alleging doom if certain processes are supposedly not followed. Forgotten is the fact that those processes may not be necessarily just.

Almost all these voices are, interestingly enough, male.

These are the same people who insist that a woman’s primary role is to be a mother. Of course, if her husband converts to Islam and takes away her children, her mothering role becomes nullified.

He suddenly becomes the martyred single father, even though he created the situation in the first place and can easily find another woman to tend to his brood.

Meanwhile, the mother remains married to the father of the children she is forcibly separated from and cannot move on.

And this is what people call the Islamic thing to do?

I hope the Cabinet cracks the whip on these issues once and for all. No doubt this will require Parliamentary approval and that will take time.

But so much misery has been caused by these injustices and what suffers most is the image of Islam as a religion that upholds justice and equality. It is not possible to be unjust and call oneself a Muslim. Unless all we care about is the form and never the substance.