I am not a good Muslim. I am against polygamy. I do not pray nor do I puasa. I believe that any good, decent human being would have as good a chance of going to heaven (wherever that may be) as any Muslim. I believe passionately that we must respect an individual right to believe that God does or does not exist. Am I a Muslim? Yes I am a Muslim by birth but I am yet to be convinced that any one religion or any one race is the chosen one! We should live life the best way we can in diversity and in harmony.
Now that I have put the cat amongst the pigeon I shall wait for the stones to be thrown my way for being apostate, for being a heretic and for being the devil incarnate. I may be all that and more but before you cast the first stone my way it may do you good to ask yourself if you should be the one to cast that first stone my way!
All that I am doing here is to put into words what I have felt from the time when as a teenager, I was made to go to Friday prayers and do things I do not understand in a language foreign to me! Since then there have been bouts of religious fervour and attempts to comprehend the meaning of life from a religious perspective but all to no avail. I am now resigned to being who I am – comfortable in the skin that I am now in and contented with who I am now while awaiting death – and possible a one way trip to Hell!
And after death what then? Nothing really! I have yet to meet any one who has explained to me in a rational and intelligent way that there is life after death. If not life after death then there is the hereafter! So at 65 I will not listen to anyone anymore. I will await death with full acceptance that it is final.
Now who will debate with me that I am wrong? Please do not! I am telling you this after much thought. I did once posted on my blog these same sentiments but took it down the very next day because I was then not prepared to face the consequences of what I had just done then. What is different today?
Nothing much. I am still the same person with the same thoughts. This time before I write about our people's need to be together in diversity I wanted to use me as an example of someone you might disagree with but will tolerate because that is what we need to do today.
We must have tolerance for others for their beliefs, their culture, their way of life and what they choose to be or not to be. I try to live it, not just say it.
The difficulty is when I am tolerant of someone who wants all the infidels living around him to be converted to his beliefs but he is not tolerant of my refusal to assist him in his life work!
The difficulty is when I am tolerant of someone who believes in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost but he will not leave me alone to my beliefs and insists on saving me!
These are the choices we face everyday anywhere we live – especially so in a multi culture, multi ethnic, multi religious Malaysia.
How do we cope?
With great difficulty requiring great tolerance and patience from all of us on a daily basis. I know that the call to Azan every morning invigorates the Muslims, as he is call to prayers to worship ALLAH –”The Most Merciful, Most Compassionate All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah” And yet that same call to prayer disturbs the sleep of others!
When I was living in Bangsar Permai in Jalan Tanduk in Bangsar I was constantly assailed by the clanging of bells and what have you from the Indian Temple nearby almost on a daily basis. It was during those times that I close my windows, turn on the air conditioned and the TV to get some quiet time within my home while the world outside do their thing!
The Chinese too can be quite boisterous and loud in their cultural and religious pursuits but when we think of the Azan and the clanging of bells from Temples are we all not similar in our rituals? Where I am now I am far from the maddening crowd but there are other distractions that also assailed the senses and my eardrums. Tolerance is required if we are to live together.
Left to their own devices our people can find their own way to live in harmony with each other. Our problem is that we are not left to our own devices. Religion, cultural diversity and race are used by our politicians as tools to divide and rule our people. They have succeeded admirably in doing so – even beyond their wildest dreams.
Any issues, any debate, any conflict any potential threat from within and without to the survival of UMNO will be seen as a threat to Ketuanan Melayu and Islam – and if need be, the Sultans are thrown into that mix. There is no need to expand on what our politicians do – suffice to say that it is we who need to change so that change can come to our Nation. Do not only be tolerant of those who are different from you – also be tolerant of those who are with you for we are all the same and yet we are all different! Amen.