Tuesday 28 December 2010

Why is the 98% scared of the 2%?

The fact that the Syiah community in Malaysia is getting vocal  about its continual harassment by the authorities is a good sign. As the Gregorian year winds to a close, it's nice that, amidst all the corniness and the cynicism that abound (and the two C words are just mirror images of each other), there are people who are now brave enough to say: Enough!

Malaysia is one of the few ostensibly 'Muslim' countries that bans a person from adhering to Syiah principles. For decades, Muslim school-kids in Malaysia were taught that Syiah is a 'deviant' and even 'bloodthirsty' sect instead of a product of a political schism in the years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). An rony is that Malaysia is a firm buddy of Iran, where being Syiah is the official norm. But if they were really so horrible, why do we acknowledge the 'Islamic Republic' of Iran? I am sure the ayatollah types there would benefit from a firm lecture on 'deviancy' by the likes of JAKIM (when they aren't too busy peeping into people's bedrooms, of course).

The Shi'ites (and, yes, how we used to giggle when we saw this word in print) believe that the prophet's rightful successor is his cousin (and son-in-law, through marriage to his daughter Fatimah) Ali. Although they believe in the same Quran, the corpus of hadith that the Syiah and the Sunni subscribe to are largely different. The former subscribe to hadith narrated by the Prophet's closest family members (the ahlul bait - People of the House) rather than those of the first three caliphs. The fact that Ali was murdered, of course, adds to the cult status accorded to him by the Syiah.

The Syiah community has existed in the Malay archipelago for centuries. To pick just one proof: the names Tongkat Ali and Kacip Fatimah, the energy-boosting (of perhaps more than one type of 'energy', knowwhatimean?) are obviously inspired by the names of a man and a woman revered in Syiah tradition. There is even a Malay Syiah epic, Hikayat Muhammad Hanafiyyah. (More details in this fascinating essay, In Search of Fatimah)

Syiah people comprise perhaps 2% of the Muslim population here; exact figures are hard to come by because no one is allowed to officially proclaim themselves to be one. And yet, the religious institutions representing the other 98% choose to see them as a "threat to national security", as if their religious rituals could shake the foundations of anything. The Sunnis in Malaysian should stop behaving like big fat bullies!

I am not the hugest fan of the Iranian administration; any nation that jails filmmakers for years for supporting opposition parties is not terribly kosher. Not to mention its President's delusional remark that there are no homosexuals in Iran. (When the regime figured out there were indeed a few, they went ahead and executed them.)

Like the Syiah of Malaysia, there are probably only 2% of people in this world who are homosexual. And yet there are various organisations squealing like stuck pigs (to use a non-halal simile) at this "threat to the nation". Further hypocrisy ensues when the "moral panic" is spread only via Muslim religious bodies. If it's really so threatening, shouldn't gays of any religion (or no religion) also be targeted?And what threat are we talking about here, exactly? The threat that all Malay boys will stop listening to rock bands and listen only to Ziana and Siti instead? (Yes. Stereotype. I know).

More people have visited this blog over the past week than at any time since its inception, because people have been Googling "Azwan Ismail." My post also attracted the most comments. Hardly anyone read the bloody brilliant Pablo Neruda translations I have been doing, such as this one on wine. Why? Because Malaysians, especially those who love claiming the moral high ground, are inordinately fond of other people's sex lives. Hence, the prevalence of skodeng (peeping tom) squads. Yes, there is a word for these faux moralists, and that word is pervert.

A blogger whose site is garlanded with Quranic verses also lists with pious enthusiasm the various methods by which gays should be killed. I am surprised he did not know that the Quran acknowledges same-sex attraction, and that the reward for good people who happen to be gay is Paradise. There are three places in the Quran that mention the wildan (heavenly boys) that will serve in the Hereafter:

52:24 Round about them will serve, to them, boys (handsome) as pearls well- guarded. 
56:17 Round about them will serve boys of perpetual freshness. 
76:19 And round about them will serve boys of perpetual freshness: if thou seest them, thou wouldst think them scattered pearls. 

The Arabic term for these boys is apparently the same used for enticing (female) virgins, but it's telling that some translators choose the more chaste-sounding 'male servants'. The five lines of 52:24-28 are also significant:

52:24And round them shall go boys of theirs as if they were hidden pearls.
52:25And some of them shall advance towards others questioning each other.
52:26Saying: "Surely we feared before on account of our families:
52:27But Allah has been gracious to us and He has saved us from the punishment of the hot wind:
52:28Surely we called upon Him before: Surely He is the Benign, the Merciful."

Now, what does that sound like to you? Attractive boys  are placed in the same category as wine (which is similarly available in Paradise). You see, the Quran will not be a complete book if it neglects the 2%. It's only the humans, in their supreme arrogance, who choose to do so.


Amir Hafizi said...

I end my turn!

Abdassamad Clarke said...

As-salamu alaikum,

Just to comment on the use of the ayats relating to 'Wildan': the term comes from the verb 'to give birth' and so words like walad and waleed have the literal sense: something that has been born. The former is applicable to boys and girls and the latter is also said to be so applicable. Ordinarily it means youths who are fit to serve but who have not attained to puberty.

You make an assumption that this is a sexual relationship, which nothing in the ayat or in the Qur'an warrants. Literally, it is simply the beauty of children that is referred to. If you take it as being sexual, then you are basically condoning paedophilia, and even in liberal secular societies, homosexuals do not go that far.

Given the unambiguous ayat in the telling of the story of Lut, peace be upon him, whose people were destroyed for indulging in homosexual acts, then the Qur'an does not endorse homosexuality in this world and it is quite clear that sodomy is a haram act in Islam, whether between men or between a man and a woman.

That said, it is not unknown for people to be affected by attraction to someone of the same sex. That does not mean that they are a category called 'homosexual', because if one were to admit that such a category exists, then one would also have to admit that 'bestial people' and 'paedophiles' and indeed 'murderers' are legitimate categories of human being, whereas they denote types of aberrant behaviour.

Particularly in the troubled years of adolescence it is important for people to be aware of the tremendous flux of young people's feelings and passions, and to help them to steer through those turbulent times, not to steer them towards a permanent condition.

And Allah knows best.

Abdassamad Clarke

Sakiinah said...


Did you neglect to mention of what happened to the people of the Luth A.S?

Its such a pity to see such a knowldgeable person like you, fail to use the wisdom given.

As mentioned in Quran:

Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (And mind) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may learn?

Truly it is not their eyes that are blind,but their hearts, which are within our bosoms,that grow blind. Al Hajj 22:46

Sakiinah said...

You want to question, ask Allah.

Don't try to make what have already been made haram for you as halal like what happened to the people of Sabbath,Luth & the people before us.

It makes yourself exactly like the people who finds ways & change the facts in the Book as you point finger to the so-called heterosexual ustaz2 etc

As for Azwan Ismail, he claims that 'we know ourselves better' but remember, Allah knows what we don't know for every thing that was made haram for us.

Amir Muhammad said...

Interesting that no one chose to comment on the first half of the post, but zoomed in straight to the sex.

What did I tell you? Perverts :-)

Abdassamad, thanks. But in the context of Arabia at that time, wouldn't having a 'catamite' have been something people could relate to culturally? It was only later that the notion of a more mature 'age of consent' came into play. Another example of how norms would have changed from that century until now would be the keeping of slave-girls and concubines.

Anba said...

The Shi'ites (and, yes, how we used to giggle when we saw this word in print)...
In Tamil Sunni means Dick or prick so do take care of ur pronunciation if ur talking to any tamil speaking ppl...
I am not suprised if the malaysian gomen are practicing double standard's when it comes to Iran coz it's purely businees...

and an interesting fact is that the Iranian revolution is one of the main reason in the arise tudung culture among malay women...

Amir Muhammad said...

Anba, But what's amazing is that the demonisation of the Syiah here has been allowed to continue unabated here for decades. I think this is the first time the actual Syiah have come forth & for once (although in Malaysia you can never be sure) I hope rule of law will prevail.

Amir Muhammad said...

Cik S, My point was to repudiate the idea (mentioned several times on Youtube) that it is impossible, literally *impossible*, for anyone who is born a Muslim to experience same-sex attraction (We can call this The Ahmadinejad Proposition).

Pet Shop Boys said...

Cuba nak bertanya to ponder; Persoalan dalam Da Vinci Code adalah dimanakaah keturunan Jesus Christ itu jika benar Jesus berkhawin dan mempunyai anak.

Well nabi Muhammad sudah tentu mempunyai keturunannya bukan? Adakah mereka juga dijaga dan dilindungi dengan baik oleh satu organisasi rahsia?

Amir Muhammad said...

PSB: Mungkin anda boleh merujuk kepada organisasi Melayu yang menulis surat ini, tergamam saya membacanya.

Anba said...

The rule of law is in absentia just like how common sense now is not common anymore inmlaysia...
Any form of critical reasoning,logic and fact based argument will of be tolerated if it contradicts the ruling dicks and the sthinking of the majority...
You see bro the major opponents of syiah is all the Arab countries which is in majority malaysia has to play the safe side and at the same time with out ruffling the feathers of Iran explicitly ...

hellmy said...

Salam Amir Muhammad,

Thank you for highlighting the Shiite issue. This community became black sheep to hide the real issues threatening the people e.g. Hike of fuel & goods price, Opposition MPs' 6-months suspension etc. In a few months from now, you'll see the fall of state govt of Selangor. Trust me.

As usual, the stereotype Malays will condemn them as being deviationists while in the same time, to my concern, they're not aware they became a laughing stock!


sid sienna said...


Those who you refer as ‘who love claiming the moral high ground’ are never extremely interested of your and your others sex live. It’s never ‘inordinately fond’. It’s something we call ‘amal ma’ruf nahi mungkar’ as what Allah said "Orang-orang mukmin lelaki dan perempuan setengah menjadi wali pembantu pada setengahnya, menganjurkan kebaikan dan mencegah dari mungkar." That what Muslim should do… reminds who forget and to guide those misguided. Malaysian is so use to such concept like ‘kubur masing-masing’. In Islam there are no such things. You may think you know all but you don’t.

Anonymous said...

Amir, what did u mean when you say/wrote "the religious institutions representing the other 98% choose to see them as a "threat to national security"? not trying to debate whether it should be less but I think the religious institutions that you supposedly mean are 'scared' of the 2% may only be zealously 'representing' some 60% of the Muslim population. the rest of the population that these institutions are 'representing' is invalid.

Amir Muhammad said...

Indahnyasuria, Assuming you didn't just get to this blog via Googling, I refer you to my previous post on Amin Sweeney. There's a great quote there by him that explains it.

Unknown said...

indahnyasuria: you work with one of the jabatan agama?
i'm curious... how come the idea of "amar ma'aruf, nahi munkar" in malaysia seems to evolve around raiding people's bedroom and chasing maknyahs, when there are other aspects of amar ma'aruf nahi munkar?
for instance, promoting community service, looking after the welfare of muallaf, preaching and promoting islamic values, research and study of Quranic contents (we still lack the study of Quranic verses with regards to psychology and social sciences, mind you).
and another thing: you enjoy the thrill of chasing maknyah, and i would concur if the maknyah chased were involved in immoral activities such as prostitution. but did you present them with a choice? an alternative that will avoid them from being involved with immoral activities?
you see, the greatest amar ma'aruf nahi munkar you can ever perform is providing means for people so that they will not resort to munkar. which none of the jabatan agama people are interested to even consider. shame on you hypocrites :|

penyelamat dunia said...

great read, however i must say you missed one detail which is that to most butterflies ning is usually preferred over ziana or siti.