Muslims in Malaysia have been called many names by those who aren't. And sometimes, unfortunately, the Muslims and Malays are categorized as one group, conveniently forgetting that there are Indian Muslims, Chinese Muslims and Caucasian Muslims in this country as well.
It's sad enough that some people who profess to be Muslims do not actually live the way the Holy Quran instructs.
But when non-Muslims join in with their negative comments and uproar about the way the Muslim authorities punish Muslims who have committed wrongdoings, to me it's just plain rudeness.
And the recent happenings are not helping at all.
So what if the Syariah court punished Muslims according to the Islamic law?
Those who were caned themselves admitted that they have sinned and deserved the punishment. The caning is seen as a chance for them to repent, and move on with their lives. Besides, the canings weren't painful and left no marks, unlike the canings by civil law. They were fully attired and the sentenced was carried out by a woman. Everything was done properly based on the syariah law. And they were not caught, they turned themselves in.
And yes, the men who were involved were caned too.
So what gives other people, especially nonMuslims to pass judgement and say that such punishment should be abolished?
Islam is not their religion.
What Muslims believe in is not the same as what they believe in based on their religions.
Just because their religious authorities don't punish them for having sex out of wedlock, doesn't mean the Islamic syariah courts would follow suit.
Don't they know that the Syariah laws are based according on Islamic teachings [though not as strict], and are not man-made to be debated on and changed according to the public's demands, as civil laws?
What make them think that it's all right to pass negative comments about how we carry out our syariah rulings and then issue an apology a day later? Why publish the article then when they already know it'd insult the Muslim readers?
Freedom of speech?
Some think that they're free to say and write anything they want to, citing the freedom of speech.
Don't they know that the freedom to speak/write is also a public responsibility? One should not impose one's rights and beliefs on other people's rights and beliefs.
Muslims in Malaysia are a tolerant lot. We keep quiet when others talk behind our backs in their own languages, condemning our religion and our way of life.
We tolerate when there's heavy traffic jams along the roads during Thaipusam and other religious festivities.
We tolerate when loud music lasted until midnight as funeral rites were carried out in the neighbourhood.
We build special areas for pork-sellers to carry out their businesses at the wet markets.
We allow lands to be used for pig-rearing although we don't like the animals.
We do so because we respect the rights of non Muslim citizens to live according to their religious beliefs.
We never question the way non Muslims live their lives, remembering that they have their own beliefs and so do we.
We never ask the Hindu ladies to stop wearing their pottu and to keep their sarees at home.
We never tell the Chinese ladies to stop wearing the shorter and shorter skirts, and sleeveless blouses.
Yes. We never tell those ladies to cover up like we advise our Muslim sisters [because as Muslims it's our duty to advise], because we respect their rights to wear whatever they want in public. As long as they don't walk about in bikinis or naked on the streets, we keep our mouth shut. Although we may look and look.
Yet, what gives these people the right to say how we should wear and how we should live our lives as Muslims?
Enough of people, including the so-called-modern Muslim women, who say that wearing the hijab is a form of oppression.
Stop passing comments and making public judgements condemning how Muslims try to live according to the ways of the Quran and hadith, by focusing on rare cases and increasing more Islamophobia in the country.
I'm fed-up with people who campaign that all syariah laws that are not in accordance to the civil law to be abolished.
They seem to take for granted that we will continue to be quiet and compliant, and to be tolerant. Writing negatively about Islam in the English tabloid, in the blogs and postings in the internet, thinking that no Muslim would bother to read is well, looking for trouble.
And they like to cite that Indonesia, being the country with the largest Muslim population, is more open and liberal in Islam than Malaysia.
That Indonesia allows mixed-religious marriages. Nobody is forced to embrace Islam in order to marry a Muslim in that country.
That Indonesia allows the use of 'Allah' in Christian religious books.
Yeah, right. Quote Indonesia and yet these same people have forgotten one very important thing.
There's no freedom of speech and freedom to practise one's culture in Indonesia.
The Indonesian Chinese were forced to adopt Indo-Malay names, and have been forbidden from celebrating Chinese cultures until recently. No Chinese-medium schools, no Chinese names, no Chap Goh Mei celebrations as enjoyed by Chinese Malaysians for generations.
You won't find any Tan Ah Moi or Wong Ah Fook in Indonesia, but you might bump into a Hartono or Gunawan.
That fact, they have conveniently forgotten when they compare Malaysia and Indonesia.
Why are those people so bold these days, to pass judgement on how we carry out our syariah punishments?
They're not the ones who would be punished, as we have already explained that non Muslims are exempted from being punished according to syariah laws.
They've nothing to fear.
Yet, they budge in, with the excuse that they're speaking for the oppressed and victimized Muslim women. How ironic, when there're so many social problems among the non Muslim communities, here and in other countries, that are conveniently swept under the carpet. Oh, do take care of your own backyard first.
Tell me... would you, as a father, welcome strangers who'd tell you how to and how not to punish your naughty children?