Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Singer, Not The Song! (2)

In an earlier posting The Star refused to delayed publishing Marina Mahathir's article, I discussed the Star’s reluctance to publish Marina Mahathir’s article about her outrage at the new changes to Malaysia's Islamic family law (IFL). Obviously, Islamic issues have always been a sensitive area for non-Muslims and even Muslims to tread upon, even though the majority of such issues in Malaysia have been man-made.

Incidentally, the IFL has been passed by Parliament though not implemented yet as the PM, under severe criticism from women’s groups, wants to review it. Weird to pass a law that he hasn’t given his full attention to, but …

Anyway, Marina blasted the new legislation, asserting that it would make Malaysian women comparable to the black South Africans during apartheid days. She averred they would become nothing more than 2nd class citizens, held back by discrimination which doesn’t apply to non-Muslim women.

Today, an anonymous reader added what I consider to be an unfair comment as follows:

“What do you expect out of the only religion in the world to unashamedly practice apartheid in the name of god?”

Anonymous made two errors in that statement. Firstly, religion itself, any religion, did/does not practise apartheid. It's the followers who should be responsible for the discrimination, usually made in the name of the religion. Still with the word ‘apartheid’, let’s remember that the Dutch Reformist Church had supported the former evil white supremacist apartheid regime of South Africa. Wouldn’t that, under Anonymous’ line of argument, make the Christian Church supportive of apartheid too?

Secondly, if we want to insist on Anonymous’ conclusion being correct, then he would be wrong a second time, because other religions, or according to my perception, the followers of other religions practised such evil 'apartheid in the name of god' as well.

Take for example Hinduism. The followers of Hinduism are subordinated to an equally evil apartheid system called 'caste', which thanks to the wisdom and compassion of Mahatma Ghandi, is not as sacrosanct as it had been before his time - though unfortunately even till today it does exist in many parts of India. Mahatma took the unprecedented step of changing the derogatory name of the ‘untouchables’ or ‘pariahs’ to ‘harijans’ (children of God). It’s little wonder he was assassinated by a right wing Hindu.

I recall an Indian (Mauritius) diplomat, who crowed to me that his boss, the Mauritius ambassador being an ‘untouchable’, dared not look at him, a Brahmin, in the face when they talked even though he was only a lower ranking embassy officer. The most bizarre thing about his boast to me was that the so-called Brahmin was a Muslim. I pointed out to him that as a Muslim, should he even revel in the social advantage the Hindu caste system had accorded him (even though the caste system officially has been abolished)? But he insisted that whether Muslim or not, he was still of a superior Brahmin caste.

Precisely because of the abominable doctrine, where the accident of births put the less fortunates into unexplainable inferior social position, many Indians converted to Islam to escape apartheid Hinduism and its discriminatory caste system. But as I said before, it’s not Hinduism per se that’s evil, but some of its followers who had evolved that divisive doctrine for their own benefits. Thus in this, Islam has in fact been the Great Liberator and Equalizer for many 'untouchables' who became an equal Muslim instead of a Hindu pariah.

Then there is the most racist religion of all, Judaism. It’s the religion of the ‘chosen people’. The ultra conservative Jews in Israel, for example like the members of the Shas Party, consider 'others' as of lower unclean order. Again, it's those people rather than Judaism itself, though people like the dead Baruch Goldstein who was an extreme racist, and the biblical authors who propagated the nonsense about ‘chosen people’ had been the culprits who gave their religion a racist hue. Would a God create a world where Group X is chosen to lord over Groups A to Z (except for X)?

Let's all keep a clinical and open mind, and only target those followers of religion who have been responsible for the nonsense or evil of their deeds, instead of blaming a religion that cannot answer back (and doesn't have to answer back). Remember, it’s The Singer, Not The Song!

As Malaysiakini reader Chai Sen Tyng in his letter Call to examine Quran a severe error said succinctly “God knows best, but the question is who claims to know what He knows.”

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