I am HARAM, is it?

Living in Sarawak  is unlike any other experience. Without sounding too cliched, the numerous ethnic groups (about 60 plus on last count) that populate the state makes for a very diverse and colorful environment. We probably have more cultural festivals (Borneo) combined than any other place in the world.

Living with neighbours that differ so much from us means that you get used to and accept the adat or traditions of the different ethnic groups. The ethnic composition of Sarawak is such that there is an almost equal balance of the major ethnic groups with the Ibans making up 30%, Malays 28% at 2nd place (rough estimates).

Which brings us to Sarawakian Malays. I have always prided in Sarawakian Malays. They are (mostly) open, tolerant and moderate people who has lived beside the Dayak with not much problems. Most of them have no qualms about eating in a Chinese cafe, or using crockeries/cutleries in a non-Muslims house. They understand their faith and what it stands for. They know what Islam means. Like the Mufti of Perlis Dr. Mohd. Asri Zainul Abididin said,

Soalan: Sebagai seorang bukan Islam, saya dimaklumkan terdapat juga orang Islam yang berasa tidak selesa berkongsi peralatan dapur seperti pinggan dan cawan di rumah saya. Bagaimanakah Islam memandang persoalan ini

Jawapan Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin: Mengarut! Apa perlu berkunjung rumah seseorang kenalan bukan Islam kalau kita menganggap tidak boleh makan atau minum di situ? Saya kecewa dengan pentafsiran Islam begini. Agama itu sebenarnya membuatkan kita menjadi lebih bijak. Pandangan ini menjadikan seseorang lebih bodoh.

Selagi sesuatu yang dijamu kepada kita itu halal, maka ia boleh dimakan, sama ada buah, ikan atau sebagainya. Kemungkinan-kemungkinan yang kita tidak nampak itu tidak wajib diambil kira. Kerahmatan ini tidak terhad kepada orang Islam sahaja.

Kalau kita buat baik kepada orang bukan Islam, kita juga mendapat pahala, macam kita memberi sedekah kepada orang bukan Islam. Perkara ini soal keinsanan dan nilai agama yang tamadun.

And there’s this.

Persatuan Peguam-peguam Muslim Malaysia (PPMM) meminta Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) dan majlis agama islam negeri turut menyiasat dakwaan bahawa menjadi kebiasaan bagi kedai kopi di Sarawak menjual makanan halal dan haram di tempat yang sama.

Presiden PPMM Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar berkata, ini kerana makanan yang bercampur boleh menukarkan yang halal kepada haram.

“Apatah lagi cara penyucian peralatan yang digunakan seperti pinggan mangkuk, sudu garpu dan sebagainya perlu juga diteliti.”

Many Muslims work at Chinese cafes. Unknown to many, the Chinese owners always makes sure that the Muslim staff do not touch the plates/fork/spoons but only to collect the glasses and wash them. I work in the industry, I know. Most stalls collect their own plates too.

So what if a Muslim food stall stands next to a Kolo Mi stall? Is the Kolo Mi owner going to throw pieces of pork into the kuah Mi Jawa? If even plates/spoons contaminated by “najis” unusable, then what about made in China products? My hands touch pork all the times, does it mean you must samak if I shake your hand?

Sad to say most Muslims never actually fully understand the Quran. They wave it at protests, hang it in their cars, but do they truly know what they are mindlessly reciting? Most Muslim practices today aren’t found in the Quran. Instead they’re traditions, or based on the Hadith. Even the hijab doesn’t exist in the Quran. It’s meant to keep sand out, unles you’re pro-Taliban.

This type of extremism didn’t exist a decades ago. Now the more extreme brand of Islam is contaminating the Sarawakian Malays who have never had any problems eating with their non-Muslim friends or at their homes. I worry. The source of Malayan(PPMM is one such entity) fear over the sovereignity of Islam (which I MUST stress is never Sarawak’s official religion) is deeply rooted in the fact they don’t know much about their own. They undermine the religion of others to pamper their own insecurities.

I dread the day when the Muslims here turn into zealots like their Malayan counterparts. (Like my brother studying in Terengganu said, “The Kelatanese are quick to explain (about Islam), the Kedahans are quick to convert (you).”)

You get thrown to hell for touching pork? Or breathing in air that has pork particles (whatever the hell that is)?

If your faith is strong, you wouldn’t have any problems with others. Must I even tell you what your own Prophet said? Sheesh.



4 thoughts on “I am HARAM, is it?

  1. a Just a few points in response to your post…..

    I am a Sarawakian and have always been proud the fact that Sarawakians are the most tolerant lot. Our family has our own ‘UDONG’ which I loosely translate as ‘a family from the Iban community who have been our friends from a few generations back, and will be regarded as such till whenever,,,,,,,’ They will always be with us be it during Hari Raya or any other important events in our family be it weddings, deaths and the like.

    The subject of eating in a ‘multi-ethnic’ coffee-shop is a very Sarawakian thing. Fun isn’t it.

    We never bothered to create the concept of 1 Malaysia because living as one big community has always been our signature style and we will always be friendly and united all our lives. Good effort this 1 Malaysia thing….however some things done to create that ‘1’ seems to be too superficial…….
    May ‘unity’ will always be Sarawakians’ trademark.

    1. Kudos to you and your family. That’s the type of unity we should embody always. Unfortunately, everything nowadays has been politicised.

      Let us hope that what makes our Sarawakian unity unique qill always prevail. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Almost three years late.But it’s better late than never.Recently I came across an article “Don’t Obsess Over What People Think” by one American educator.He wrote,among others,”I’ve found that a substantial fraction of many people’s day is spent worrying about what others think of them.”He continued “If nobody ever worried about what was in other people’s heads,we’d all be 33 percent more effective in our lives and on our jobs.”

    Trully enough we’re obsessed over many trivial things in life.Haram this haram that or whatever.We become suspicious of everyone around us.Our houses are fence-gated all around for fear of unwanted characters (thieves).We fear of the unknown.We teach our kids “ada hantu pd malam hari” to create fear within them.No night outing.We even teach them not to “piss off” at an old tree or in a hole for fear of “hantu” dwelling therein.

    Find things we have in common.Sarawakians are in deed happier without too much politics.

    Just a 5sen thoughts.

    1. It is a trivial thing, for me. Until the fanatics start making it big.

      “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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