The Faceless Muslim

The Faceless Symbol

This entry will perhaps carry a bit of heavy religious connotation. So my disclaimer, is just that this is a personal reflection and observation and not intended to be the alpha and omega of my thoughts process. I’ve been vilified before for commenting on my own people. Yes, the same Malay blood that runs through my blood for the past few eons. I still get bemused sometimes when I’m queried with the probing issues of, “Jaz, why criticize? Do something.” or “Jaz, it’s easy to be one the fence and criticize the weeds.” or “Jaz, be part of the solution. You are not helping, by only stating the problems.” And to all that, I hold my hands up high in amused guilt. Part of me enjoys being a social commentator. Part of me laments being a critical observer.

Anyway, I’m noting this down because I’ve been thinking about it.

Where Are the Lights?

The other day, I passed by that spanking new mosque up at Sengkang. The mosque named Mawaadah. It was late at night, and I was just being driven past by, with the company of my brother in law. I instantly made the remark, that for such a new masjid, it looked kinda isolated and derelict. It was located on a recluse area surrounded by open fields. It was decked in brown paint. It does not carry the traditional and very typical design of a mosque (without the kubah). And worse of all, in the darkness of the night, by the sparing road lights, it appeared very haunted. Why? Because it was not bathed in a semblance of life and light.

It’s horrifying why the House of Allah, should look so distant and cold. I commented to my brother in law, that over in Woodlands, there was a huge and gorgeous church. What made it kinda “holy” , was the small fact that they had a big cross framed in front of the building. It’s huge. Huge huge. The church was white in color. The cross was huge and white in color too. And at night, bright spotlights shower the cross with “resplendent holiness”. It kinda enhances that appeal factor of the church being a place of solace and comfort. In comparison, Mawaadah looks like Alcatraz and the church, the White House.

It beats me why our local mosques are like community centers. The type that opens during fajr prayers and closes after isya’. Some local mosques, in their efforts to integrate into mainstream acceptance, even has sewing classes, aerobics classes and silat classes. Call me cynical, but how did a holy place suddenly disintegrated into being a center for Malay Muslims integration and bonding clubhouse?

I’m a tad disappointed actually, with the state by which the mosques have been structured to run its operations. I know, cause I’ve been to them and found the whole affair as a ridiculous spectacle. Still remember a particular mosque I went to. In trying to meet the so called CEO of the mosque committee, I was led through two entry pass enabled doors. Hello? It’s a mosque. Not a Wall Street’s executive’s office. I miss the feeling of accessibility. Granted, that office staffs may need their due spaces and privacy, due to confidential materials and so forth, but making it secure with panels and glass doors, just reeks of incompetent, arrogant and self delusional importance.

The mismanagement of a mosque’s actual purpose and dynamics is appalling. It’s sick actually.

We are the only faith that has a Harmony Center dedicated, to the purpose of racial and religious understanding and integration. Perhaps the big wigs sitting at MUIS, is thinking that by placing nice Photoshop-ed visual panels, illustrating Islam, with a guided tour as part of it’s itinerary is effective daawah in place. We organize buffets, luncheons and dinners with other faiths, so that people will understand? Understand that Malays pray 5 times daily? Understand that Malays fast in Ramadhan? Understand that Malays pays Zakaat? Understand that Malays denounce terrorism? Pathetic isn’t it? This are knowledge which doe not require a dedicated center. These are Google-able knowledge.

With the Maulid fever mania in season, I’m not surprised if the call for charity giving is yet again rallied. A majority of the community is so into Maulid. Instead of making my point across, that there is no basis for such a celebration, (contentions of bidáah), I am amused that suddenly, it’s almost the ‘in thing’ to be going to mosques to celebrate the Maulid. It’s insane. Where’s the priorities in deeds?

Between the congregational prayers and reciting poems (the Qasidh burdah), people are more inclined for the latter. One is ordained, whilst the other lacks basis. People choose the more enjoyable one.

The community lacks a Muslim leadership. We are led by a conglomerate of Malays, with a Muslim tagging. That’s why we are called Malay Muslims, instead of the other way round. We don’t have Chinese Christians or Indian Christians. We have Christians. But we Malay Muslims need specifics. We prefixed Malay to the faith. Which is counter productive, as the search for identity rages on. Kids may just grow up wondering. Am I a Malay first, then Muslim? Or Muslim first, then Malay.

Why Malays Cannot Be Muslim Leaders

Malay Muslims here, which includes me, are faceless. Our leaders are at best representational in their capacities. And leaders are not contained only within the scopes of MPs and NMPs, but across the boards of NGOs, schools, corporations and etc. We seem to be a community in plight, amidst that occasional reports of minute improvements. We tweet about almost always the same issues, predicaments and strifes. We status-fied ourselves into folklore, as the perennial tribe of “what could have been”. 9 years down the road, and still we try to identify ourselves as a docile and dormant community, that carries the banner of “rahmatan lil alamin”. Our part in the context of metropolitanising the country, is as ambassadors of interactive and good will faith exchanges. We are famous for our Hari Rayas, fasting month, Zakaats,weddings and other big, non decisive matters. And yes, such basic knowledge is imperatively important, because a bakery shop needs to put the “No Pork. No Lard.” sign-age Yes, being a faceless Malay Muslim here is all about asking for the “Halal” logo at eateries.

Sometimes, it sucks being faceless. Especially, when you cannot recognize your own face.

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