Published in Malay Mail Online
To paraphrase a friend, Islamisation is no longer creeping in this country. Instead, it is marching down the streets banging the drums, and at no time is it as obvious as Ramadan.
There is just something about the combo of a blessed holy month with millions of hangry adherents that brings out the self-righteous and judgmental ones.
It is undeniable that there is a shift of public sentiment this year, with more and more Muslims publicly saying that fasting is their burden of faith alone, and non-Muslims should not be subjected to the same restrictions in public.
But perhaps we are not there yet.
It was disheartening to hear reports of a senior teacher in Kedah who told non-Muslim primary school students to drink water in the school toilets, and if they do not have water, “they can drink from the tap or their own urine.”
Particularly disappointing was the response by Deputy Education Minister Mary Yap that non-Muslims should consume food and drink discreetly and outside the view of fasting Muslims.
Even more disappointing was her fellow Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan, who rebuked the teacher, but only for making the “urine joke.” The bigger problem was left untouched: that non-Muslims were urged to drink in the toilet instead.
Surely some Muslims would feel that they are entitled to “respect” during Ramadan. But that is just a by-product of the Islamisation of this country.
Elsewhere, especially in countries where Muslims are the minority, nobody would even care about them fasting, what more humouring their feelings of entitlement.
There seems to be a wave of awareness among non-Muslims that they should no longer be subjected to exclusive moral values, as illustrated by the many complaints in the past week of Malaysians forced to cover up when seeking service in government outlets.
The dress code “rebellion” was a perfect example of the clash of two different values in the society.
On one side is the set of more sensible values, one that is not even liberal. It is only common sense to expect government services to be made available to the public, without restricting it with dress codes that border on unnecessary.
Determining what values lies on the other side is more complex.
It surely cannot be conservative values? After all, we have had conservatives of all colours — Muslims or not — since time immemorial, and we have not experienced anybody being denied their rights.
It is perhaps inconclusive to blame Islamisation entirely for this obsession to heavily regulate the public’s behaviour, but again, it must share at least part of the blame.
We can expect some Muslims to cry so-called Islamophobia, that they are being unfairly targeted by such an allegation. So it is perhaps prudent to specify how Islamisation has less to do with Islam, but rather authoritarianism.
To be concerned with Islamisation does not necessarily mean feeling negatively against Islam.
Islam as a religion is fairly neutral. I think many can agree that they have no problems with Muslims.
But Islamisation is a process of political domination, by enforcing Islamic rules and codes on others who do not subscribe to the same belief system.
It is taking Islam’s message of being the blessing to the world with too much zealousness. It is when Muslims decide to take their mission as “caliphs of the world” a little too seriously, and can only rest when others submit to their faith and moral values.
Islamisation is when Muslims practise their “amal ma’ruf, nahi munkar” doctrine — “to do good and prevent wrongdoings”…. but only to mean that everyone must follow and leave out things strictly according to Islam, instead of what is universally considered “good” and “bad.”
Islamisation happens because some Muslims demand for religious bodies to be given the authority to govern their lives, because they have never been taught to do otherwise.
It happens when Muslims refuse to take responsibility for their own lives, outsourcing them instead to clerics and scholars.
Islamisation is a skewed interpretation that Islam is a way of life with no separation of state and religion. It is when the State is emboldened to codify every facet of a Muslim’s life: his worship, his attire, his food, his thoughts.
And among its abhorrent consequence, is the belief that Muslims have the right to judge and condemn others with impunity. And the worse victims as usual tend to be women — whose status is deemed lesser by the patriarchal nature of the ideology.
That is when champion gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi gets chastised by self-righteous men who could only see the grooves on her crotch instead of her worth as an individual, just days before going into Ramadan.
That is when the anonymous woman who took a selfie at a Ramadan bazaar with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and TV host Edleen Ismail was “cautioned” online for being “too sexy” that perverts cannot contain themselves during the holy month.
That is when Pahang Islamic enforcers used Ramadan as an excuse to decide that Muslim women — only women — who dress “indecently” during the month can be fined with a one year jail sentence or RM2,000 fine starting this year, as if it is a requirement for fasting.
Things will only get worse as the two sets of values continue their clashes.
And some Muslims would complain of persecution, when it is not their rights which are in contest, but their previously unabated harassment against others.
Those who have been comfortable with Islamisation for too long will be kicking and screaming, but we shall drag them out anyway.