Pigs, pork, piggery, prejudice, piety, politics, politicians and pai-kuat-cha* are all in season right now!
* that's Canto. The dish is better known in Hokkien as bah-kut-teh
There’s my fave pollie, poor sweetie sassy Teresa Kok, being demonised by many for talking about a RM100 million modern piggery centre in Kuala Langat.
Teresa has been the target of many, including disgruntled former DAP members. In Malaysiakini today one of the news article headlined Be fair to me, Kok tells critics, where we found her critic has been one who cakap ta’serupa bikin.
Anyway, Teresa has been criticized by some people, surprisingly even by one Chinese I know. They thought her website showing pictures of roast pigs was too provocative, as had been her announcement of the piggery centre at Kuala Langat.
Of course we may attribute a major portion of the criticisms to UMNO trouble makers except for a refreshing UMNO man who admitted it was his idea for a centralised and locality-contained pig farm project.
It’s the usual Malaysian bullsh*t over piggy politics, polemics and propaganda which has a lot to do with piety, prejudice and pollution.
Piety is because the Muslims cannot eat pork. It’s haram or forbidden by the Quran (2:173) which states: “He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swineflesh, And that which hath been immolated to (the name of) any other than Allah. But he who is driven by necessity, Neither craving nor transgressing, it is no sin for him. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”
We see that the Quran does provide a sensible emergency clause – eg. If a Muslim is in the middle of nowhere, where the only food available is, say, wild pigs, then he or she may eat pork to the extent necessary for his/her continued survival.
According to my Paki friend down here in Oz, it's far more sinful for a Muslim to starve to death than to eat pork to survive.
As for the Jews, Deuteronomy 14:8 tells us that "And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase."
It doesn't explain why only animals which have divided hooves and chewed cud could be eaten. Pity, I would like to know.
Deuteronomy then goes on to list all sorts of animals including virtually every birds of prey as forbidden food. Worse, in Leviticus, Chapter 11, even the coney (rabbit), hare, camel and various types of seafood can’t be eaten.
But I was informed by a Jew friend that Jews do eat rabbits and camels.
I have already posted why the ancient Hebrews and their descendants the Israelites, Judeans and Jews, won’t eat pork – see my post Why Orthodox Jews Don't Eat Pork!
It’s all because of an Egyptian god named Seth which was represented by a hippopotamus or a pig! Many Hebrews had adopted the worship of Egyptian gods.
One could argue that the trouble started when Noah took on board two pigs, rabbits, camels, hares, etc. And one can't help but wonder why in the first place would god allow these non-kosher (haram) creatures to embark on the ark? You tell me!
But though the Quran instructs Muslims that swineflesh is forbidden, there was no specific instruction to ‘hate’ pigs or pork or the people who ate them. In fact the Quran even provides a dispensation on pork eating in emergencies.
Unfortunately some local Muslims, usually and not-so-strangely politicians ;-), would at specific intervals make a big issue over rearing of pigs and the sales of pork or pork being served in public areas where they may visit, for example, Teresa Kok’s website.
Is there anything in the Quran to instruct Muslim not to accept people of other religions rearing pigs or eating pork?
As I had posted in A pig of a problem:
Pigs are haram to Muslims because Islam says so. And when religion is involved, especially in Malaysia, the problem outgrows that prescribed by the religion itself because of existing inter-ethnic dislike, distrust and intolerance, a mix of emotions that’s not exclusive to Muslim Malays, but certainly whipped up by our dear wonderful politicians.
As I had blogged earlier in Piggy Politics, the vexed issue of pigs and pork have graduated from mere haram (forbidden or non kosher food) to an abomination, a far worse case of abhorrence than mere prohibited food.
Pigs, pork and piggeries are far less tolerated than samsu (alcohol) or other Islamic prohibitions - eg. gambling (our famous 4-Ekor), womanizing, corruption, oppression ... etc. In fact, it's not only 'less tolerated', it's, as I mentioned, an abomination.
But let’s not hide from the fact that the ensuing stench from pigs’ waste is all overpowering, extremely unpleasant (especially at initial contact), and utterly offensive not only to Muslims but to anyone.
But because the stench is from pigs, the issue takes on a far bigger dimension than the assault on our olfactory senses. It would summon religious and parochial emotions.
Lamentably, our politicians know how to harness such emotions.
So long as the piggeries are located at a district which won’t offend the noses of people including non Muslims, or be allowed to pollute water sources, I trust that Muslims should be tolerant of non-Muslims rearing pigs or partaking of pork.
I won’t belabour the arguments for and against as I have blogged plenty on this issue.
(1) Pig & Prejudice
(2) Piggy Politics
(3) A pig of a problem (2)
(4) A pig of a problem (3)
(5) Pigs, politics, polemics, pollution, propaganda, profits
(6) Pigs: "Stop misusuing us for your sinister religious agenda!"
(7) Cats versus Pigs - Which go first?