31 August 2013

The voiceless and powerless are further discriminated by divisive issues.

SOMETIMES we need to look at our country from a long distance to truly see it as it is.

I have been travelling for the past two weeks and while it is nice to totally switch off news from home, occasionally I can’t help it.

Predictably enough there is hardly ever any news that makes me homesick.

Instead, there is only news that makes me sick at heart.

The whole resort surau (place of worship) issue blew up right after I left and honestly reading about it from afar makes me want to shake my head at the ridiculous lengths our politicians will go to supposedly garner popularity.

I won’t repeat the numerous sensible arguments so many have put forward against taking punitive action against the resort manager for what is at worst a naive mistake.

When people have apologised, magnanimity requires that we accept it. Not accepting apologies reeks of arrogance. After all, even God accepts those who repent.

In fact, the one striking thing about the recent many occurrences of the ease of offendedness was not only the sudden thin-skinnedness of politicians and religio-politicians but also the audience for this.

When it comes to religion, we are always exhorted to do everything for God.

Even given that some people actually think getting offended is a good thing, I have to ask: are we doing this for God or simply for other human beings, especially those whose votes we need in the coming elections?

If it is the latter, then we are already wrong. If it is the former, then why would Almighty God not only choose to speak through the Home Minister but choose the taking away of permanent residency as His chosen form of punishment?

Nor is the destruction of places of worship something that is sanctioned by the God some of us purport to represent.

As many have pointed out, places of worship often go through various incarnations.

The Kaaba itself was once a temple of idolatory until Prophet Muhammad cleansed it of its idols. Today, it is Islam’s holiest site. If the Kaaba can be so easily converted as a holy place from one faith to another, what more a humble resort surau?

Honestly, from afar, our politicians and their band of followers simply look stupid.

There are far more important things to worry about than whether rooms can be used for one faith or another, or who one calls God or whether everyone fits into one uniform faith box or not.

All over the world people are dying from hunger and war. How does the destruction of one surau help them?

In Britain, everywhere I go, I see posters gently requesting people to donate to causes in developing countries, to help people have clean water, simple medical treatment or for children to go to school.

The football association has just started a campaign for tougher penalties against racism, sexism and homophobia.

These are all positive things to do because those who are voiceless and powerless will feel more protected.

In contrast, in our country, every day we only see more calls for the voiceless and the powerless to be even more marginalised and discriminated against.

And the worst thing is, not only do we think this the right and – gallingly – the religious thing to do, but we are actually proud of it.

If we only read our religious books, then we would know that we should actually be ashamed.