Friday, 5 August 2011

Banning "Temptations"- What "Abstinence" then?



After the "Kelantan Lotteries" and the "Kedah Ramadan entertainment" issues, many thought these actions using "Islam" as justification for their chauvinism would be confined to these places- these states being largely Muslim/Malay majority.
Not that we forgot about the "ban on Muslim workers in alcohol serving outlets" or "ban on alcohol issues" in Selangor- but now there are raids at Churches if there are Muslims at a dinner!! Saying words like "Quran" & "pray" is now deemed "proselytization" by certain quarters.

Interesting view of PAS, this Khalid gives ... "Hasan’s view on church raid not PAS’s". Some thought is was "brave", some thought it "hypocritical", some said "spineless" and others, "questionable".
I however believe that there is deeper underlying malady which brings forth the confusion- namely envy, selfishness, denial & hypocrisy- and it infects every facet of society today.

Whatever said & done- people now don't know what to make of the "realities" in Malaysia now. What was right, is now wrong. What was legal is now, illegal. What was illegal, can now be legal. What was acceptable, is now "immoral". What is legal here, is illegal there, etc etc etc
Never mind all that .... thanks to the "holier-than-thou" competition between PAS & UMNO, this is the 1-Funny-Malaysia (sorry, Zunar- couldn't resist it) we have today.
Now, I wish to address another issue, (being the holy month of Ramadhan)- that of penance/ abstinence. Just my perspective ....

There appears to be a certain worldview which is gaining popularity these days- it goes like this,
"When I abstain from some things, the accessibility to all these things I abstain from should be removed from my world. Should I fail, it is the fault of the temptation, and not my weak faith/will"
Now- should all things I "abstain" from be made inaccessible, wouldn't that mean that effectively, I do not really abstain from anything?
Isn't it also rather hypocritical of me to blame others for my failure to rein in my desires?
This reminded me of a rhyme by Anne Russell ......

"At three I had a feeling of ambivalence toward my brothers,
and so it follows naturally that I poisoned my lovers.
but now I'm happy I have learned the lesson this has taught,
that everything that I do that's wrong is somebody else's fault".

Some believe that they should demand "respect" and assert their religious convictions every now and then. They believe that they should play "God" and remove "temptations", instead of resisting them by strengthening their faith.In some places, eateries & entertainment outlets should be closed. Punishment of children who do not conform isn't unheard of. School canteens are shut. Others shouldn't have fun, lest the "brothers" are tempted. The idea used to justify all these is- "Those who abstain "shouldn't be tempted" ... lest they lose their heavenly rewards"! It's either that, or "We should be able to depict the "character" of the country

Sometimes I wonder ...... Maybe- just maybe, could it be that in doing their "penance/abstinence", many are actually consumed by envy, frustration and anger- which makes them impose these "requirements to conform" upon others who do not possess political power, and consequently feel good about themselves, for being able to exert their will as retribution upon who do not conform?

Personally, I do not believe that something can be perceived as a temptation, unless you have a desire for it. Last I checked, vegetarians do not complain about meat eaters, nor do the male Gynaecologists complain about sexy women- nor do they view them as "temptation".

Sexy women tempting you? No problem- get a hobby to get your mind working on something productive, or just don't look beyond 10-feet ahead of you while in a crowd (but please do look ahead if you're crossing the road). Still couldn't resist an armpit? Just look away using the wonderful creations called muscles in your eye/neck- you don't have to cover your kid's eyes with your hand, while you indulge in the fetish you suffer from.

Me personally- I'm no saint. Though I do fall, I do my best to stand up again- and I believe that is what makes all the difference. If ever I chose to "abstain", I've never expected others to "conform". In fact, in my worldview, we shouldn't be advertising the abstinence- and are supposed to carry on with life as usual. No working slow, going home early, cancelling appointments or taking "time-out" while on duty because of "pening lalat".

If one failed to resist the "temptations", one is supposed to strengthen one's faith and try again- not become a monk & hide all temptations! I'm not supposed to admonish the fella hogging it out, or the lady showing her legs/armpit in front of me ....
Breaking fast? Not an issue at all- I'm supposed do it my own time (and not drool when I'm on duty just thinking about it).If all these "temptations" should be removed- what is there left to abstain from? Then, probably it would be a blessing if we were all in Kamunting every time we need to abstain ....

Lastly- although I have given examples of intolerance in Malaysia, I must say here that this isn't about "Islam" per se. All schools of thought are involved here- Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism etc etc etc. (I know of some fundamentalist churches which are even intolerant of other churches- and believe that they should zombify you into submission to their dogma ..... for "God". Yes- I've been told that I'm Lucifer incarnate too!).

It is about the concept of abstinence and one's perspective in carrying out ones convictions in an imperfect world- without expecting the world to conform to one's self.
After all, had God willed it- we wouldn't be having all these "diversity & temptations" which some of us deplore today, right?
Yet some wish to play "God" ....


"It will not do to cling to the cause
and wish the result away.

Reality does not play mind games.
What is more, to anesthetize the mind
in order to abort what comes to birth

when wrong ideas are conceived
and borne in the womb of culture,

will only kill the very life-giving force
of the nation that nurtures the idea."

- Ravi Zacharias