By Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
I would like to deal with the Timah and the Kedah 4D numbers blanket ban in this issue.
For the record, I have never drunk alcohol nor have I ever purchased a 4D number. However, as a Malaysian and a Muslim, I wish to put my points across to all my fellow citizens in order for them to understand the Malay-Muslim perspective from my own experience and value system.
Let’s deal with the Timah issue. Firstly, one of my daughter’s name is Fatimah binti Mohamad Tajuddin. She is my firstborn and now has three children of her own.
I named her after the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, Fatimah. Muslims hold the Prophet’s family in high regard and thus the names of Khadija, Salama, Aisyah and his other wives and daughters are favored names in the Muslim culture.
My two other daughters are Khadija and Aisyah.
I guess, naming a child after the Prophet’s family sort of bring us closer to him even though we are not considered blood relatives.
Non-Muslims must firstly understand this culturally sensitive points, if we are to live together as a family-nation.
Thus, be careful in naming commercial products like toothpaste or pastries after the names of the Prophet Muhammad’s family.
Similarly, the names of the 25 Prophets like Isa, Musa, Ibrahim, Hud, Nuh and even the mother of Isa, Mariam are all highly respected and held in esteemed regard. This should bring Muslims closer to Jews and Christians but many stupid Muslims like to treat them as deathly enemies.
I have no issue with the Whiskey company for choosing a Malay name that relates to a kind of metal. But we need to respect one another and know our cultural boundaries even though such words can mean other things also.
Once a famous shoe company in America had to recall all their shoe products because their shoes showed an emblem that might have looked like the Arabic letters ‘Allah’.
I have studied the case thoroughly and I know that this was a pure coincidence, but the shoe company was good enough to retract all their products and even gave their designers a special training on religious sensitivity.
The Whiskey company in Malaysia should perhaps do the same. I have absolutely no problem at all for the company to use the name Timah but it would be good if the company itself thinks of the future harmonious relations of this nation’s citizenry for all mutual benefits.
Now, let’s deal with the 4D numbers.
When I was learning to be an Islamic reformist, I learned the moral values of being a Muslim. Part of it was not drinking alcohol, gambling, fornication or lying for self benefit and breaking amanah, trust or kepercayaan.
All these are moral values of a Muslim that he or she must struggle with in a society that may have different values.
Never once did I learn that as a reformist, my role is to make sure all people regardless of their values and faith must kowtow to the Islamic form of morality.
Islam has already provided the tools of moral defense against sins and bad deeds and one just needs to observe the practice.
Just because I am fasting does not mean that all restaurants must be closed. Just because of the morality against sex before marriage does not mean that every citizen must also observe the Muslim ‘hijab’ or dress code.
But apparently, there is a group of ignoramus Muslims who think the best way is to stop everyone from doing the things disallowed in Islam, like eating pork.
The Kedah Chief Minister is part of this ignoramus group who thinks his Islam is better and that he is doing a great favor for all Muslims.
To me, from my reading of Islam, he has just destroyed the magnanimity, tolerance and progressive values of Islam to the world.
This ‘cowardly form’ of Islam will ultimately exclude all Muslim children in the future of their place in the global context of life.
No one will be a friend to any Muslim anymore or trust them to be part of their community.
No country will accept the Kedah Chief Minister type of Muslim.
The Chief Minister maybe OK living in his Kedah kampung, but other Muslims may want to live in Japan, USA, Britain, New Zealand or China.
What can be simpler than Islam? Unfortunately Muslims in the ignoramus group make it difficult, hateful, intolerant and backwards.
I don’t drink alcohol and will never do and I do not buy 4D numbers and will never do so. My faith in the teachings of the Prophet as well as my own conviction as to its rationale are enough to carry me on the rivers of life where different cultural values and lifestyle abound. I also learn never to judge people drinking alcohol or gambling with 4D numbers as ‘bad people’ because their lives and existence are bigger and more precious than what little we know outside.
It would be a sad day when a Muslim can’t step into a church and thus can’t study architecture, can’t stand alcohol drinkers and thus cannot work for a non-Muslm company like Google, can’t go to the malls because there are alcohol drinks in one small 0.012% of the shopping center’s floor area and also can’t go to school because there are non-Muslim teachers wearing skirts and saris. Susahlah ini macam!
Thus, for non-Muslims, my message is please know your neighboring Muslim cultural heritage.
My other message is for the Muslims: the more challenges we have in living with others, the more value we add to our lives both as training ground of tampering temptation but also of learning from differences to create a higher form of iman or spirituality.
(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at a local university.)