Why are Malays fleeing?

| December 20, 2014

Zaid Ibrahim recently spoke to The South China Morning Post about Malays fleeing Malaysia to escape the imposition of increasingly extremist ideology by the authorities and various NGOs. The encroachment of the moral police on our everyday life has become more and more obvious and it has frightened some of the ummah, especially when a lot of the rhetoric has become a case of ‘”us versus them”, them being the undefined “musuh-musuh Islam” spoken of by just about every NGO that claims to be defending Islam.

It has come to the point where even our children are put under tremendous peer pressure to be more “Muslim”, and some of us have taken to sending them to religious school immediately after regular school and they stay there until late afternoon. When do they have time for play?

There is indeed a general environment of fear caused not only be the screaming NGOs, but also by the mosque preachers who should know better. At least for those who live in the suburban areas of Selangor, it is not uncommon to hear sermons at almost every other hour of the day blaring through the loud speakers. And more often than not, the subject is divine wrath rather than divine love or beauty. And children hear all this when they should instead be introduced to the beauty of faith, the mysteries of the divine, the love of God that permeates our lives.

Perhaps it’s all part of the push back against the various social ills that plague our society. From incest to drug abuse to robbery, these social ills are nothing to laugh at and need to be dealt with if we hope to ever become a modern society. But a hardline approach is not necessarily always the answer or the solution as it is human nature to push back.

To quote my good friend Megat, “It’s a common sight nowadays seeing Muslims doing what is clearly haram and the authorities’ way of handling these matters seems very aggressive, which only make people do the haram stuff more. The authorities should be showing examples of how Islam actually works rather than making statements about what is right or wrong, or worse, showing how eager they are to punish.”

That’s a pretty good point. Our religious authorities go about their duties in what seems like absolute assurance of their invulnerability, knocking on doors in the middle of the night to find evidence of wrongdoing, warrants be damned. Instead of serving the needy, finding ways to educate and uplift them, we’re more interested in harassing people for any sign of sinful activity, not showing them that there is more to aspire to.

Spying on your neighbour

What is really scary is that the moral policing zeal might soon infect ordinary people like you and me, and we’ll be spying on our neighbours. Once the idea has set in that you have the obligation to police your neighbours, it escalates to taking on authority in telling them what to do, and how to live their lives. Going one step further and forcing them by intimidation is where we cross the line and become that which we profess to hate.

Another friend, Faiz, actually made the move to Australia, but wasn’t able to stay. But he agrees with Zaid Ibrahim that the current oppressive atmosphere created by the religious authorities is unhealthy, and is not an environment he wants his children to grow up in. And he would migrate in an instant if he could.

Faiz may be liberal, but he is a committed Muslim and a good man. For him to be so fearful of this atmosphere and the effect it will have on his children is a good indicator for how Malays feel about the zealots taking over their lives.

Megat agrees. “These zealots believe that there’s only one way to show what’s true (in the context of Islam).” The moderate and liberal Muslims feel compelled to migrate because “the aggressive approach of the authorities on handling Islamic matters in Malaysia is not only ineffective but, at times, inconsiderate.” After all, he explains, Islam is so widespread in the world today you can live in almost every foreign city and practice the faith. “There are shops selling halal food and mosques you can go to for Friday prayers.”

The government must once more define the boundaries of the religious authorities. That they are scaring off our own people is a grave sign for Malaysia, and is not healthy for not only adults, but for the children. If they are taught to do good out of fear, that is against everything the faith stands for. Doing good should come from love and good intentions. It’s time to rethink how we embrace the faith, and the faith will be strengthened by it.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2014/12/20/why-are-malays-fleeing/