Pinkdot: A Muslim’s View

Pinkdot is an event which celebrates the freedom of LGBT, recently held in Singapore. I’m not sure what their objective is exactly, but as a moderate Muslim, I really disagree with the promotion of LGBT lifestyle.

The issue of LGBT itself is not new, but it seems that many Muslims forget the unanimous view among our spiritually-discerned ulama. Not one of the them said that homosexuality is halal. Not. A. Single. One.

Admittedly, the issue itself is complex. It is imperative that we focus our discussion not on men who may appear feminine and vice versa (there’s a specific hadith on that, by the way). Instead here, we are talking about people who engage in homosexual relationships.

What’s our position?

Homosexuality has been discussed for hundreds of years by the ulama. They concede that some people may develop certain tendencies towards people of the same sex. They even talked about the permissibility of praying behind someone with such tendencies, as Hamza Yusuf clarified:

But nowhere do they say that it is okay to act on those tendencies. In fact, as many others, including Tariq Ramadan (video below) have argued that these feelings represent the personal challenges for these Muslims. Just like someone who have tendencies to be violent, does it make it okay to act violently? Or someone who has the tendency to commit adultery or steal, does it make it okay for them to act on it? Definitely no. This self-improvement is among the focus on their jihad in this world, to gain the pleasure of Allah in the next.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we must excommunicate or totally ostracize the gay Muslims. Instead, we should take the steps to make them understand their religion even more, and create the necessary space for them, as Sherman Jackson argued:

My interpretation of the necessary space here is not one that encourages nor allow homosexual Muslims to engage in sinful acts, but a space for them to interact with true Muslims, those who love Allah and strive to make amends to improve themselves. We need the space so that we can identify and educate our fallen brothers and sisters, so they can get back on their feet .Because without such space, what we are doing it basically alienating them to one corner of society that envelopes them from outreach efforts.

With such a “space,” expert counselors can talk to gay Muslims and make them comprehend the hikmah of Allah’s law.  Spiritual guides can talk to their family and make them supportive of the correct Islamic teachings, instead of something which is heavily influenced by the we-can-do-anything-as-long-as-no-one-gets-hurt hedonism. Thinkers can help develop a plan at the strategic level so that our precious young ones fully follows deen from very early on.

The big(ger) problem

On a wider plane, I personally think that the “popularity” this gay lifestyle is a by-product of globalization, one with very modern-Western-centric influences.

One example is the TV. If we switch our TVs on, and our minds off, then we will unknowingly consume all that rubbish in our own living room. Take for example the drama Glee. Sure, they make for great entertainment, especially if you love singing and dancing. But the garbage that is deemed to be primetime TV is also a great waste of time. More critically, they bring about these unintended “values” that we Muslims are suddenly finding ourselves in its midst. The acceptance of homosexuality is definitely one of them.

Before we know it, our frame of mind is influenced by the premises set in such shows. Thus when we talk about rights, the modern Western definition of rights come up to our mind. Same goes for freedom. Freedom to wear what what the nafs (and billion-dollar fashion industry) wants. Freedom to watch what you want. Freedom to do as you please. Leaving nothing to be sacred.

Methinks, the proliferation of gay personalities on popular TV shows such as Glee, Ellen, How I met Your Mother, and many more TV shows is a contributing factor. At first Muslims might think, “Hey, these gays, they’re not bad people.” Of course they are not. We have nothing against the gays. What we oppose is their action.

But with increasing acceptance of such personalities, common everyday Muslims will find it hard to filter which is good and which is bad; which of their commendable characteristics should be praised (creative, hardworking), and which of their bad characteristics should be condemned. The line simply is blurred when they accept such people as a whole, instead of viewing an individual critically.

Now imagine a 12-year-old Muslim boy watching Glee, and suddenly remembers that he has a boy crush on his class monitor. In my time, those things are considered to be normal, and one grows out of it. In this time, he may very well think that he is “born different” and should “be true to himself” and “not succumb to the pressure of conservative family ideals.” In my time, boy crush means that you try and be best friends with that class monitor. In this time, boy crushes may be honed to be the the foundation of homosexuality.

Similarly, I believe our kids know Ryan Giggs, John Terry, Christiano Ronaldo very well. In addition to their football skills, news exposés also revealed their sexual misconduct (to put it mildly). So just as we tell them that these sportsmen train very hard to get to their peak, we should also be very clear to them that their merit is limited only to soccer, and not anything more. The lines drawn should be decisively clear.

Conclusion

As such, it hurts me to watch this scene (00:12 mark).

I don’t imagine handling such identity issues will be easy, but I pray that the family involved are taking steps in the right direction.

And my parting thoughts to my fellow Muslim brothers who see themselves as part of the homosexual community, please, be with the right company. Be with people who love Allah and His messenger PBUH. Those that pray five times a day, and realize that it trains the nafs. Those that fast often, and know that obedience comes before desire. For, when stepping on Allah’s land, and roofed with Allah’s sky, the least we can do is to make that effort live with Allah’s rules.

Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.” Al-Baqarah:286

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Woi Vote Betul2 La!

(Image credit)

Presenting our special guest writer today: Johan bin Haji Awang

“Melayu takde bodek!

Bila time berbual, satu2 macam betul je kutuk PAP itu lah, ini lah, harga HDB mahal nak mampos, harga bas/MRT asik naik even though tiap2 tahun untung ratus2 juta. Harga barang kat pasar naik pasal government pilih landlord ikut harga supermarket, harga hospital naik, obat naik, klinik naik, semua naik. Gaji je tak naik2. Kalau naik pon very pathetic.

Dah tu duit CPF sendiri, da lah kena paksa simpan tiap2 bulan, dah tua belum tahu dapat keluarkan. Suka aku ah nak buat beli kereta ke nak pegi haji ke nak bukak bisnes goreng pisang. Duit aku apa! Tiap2 bulan aku simpan! Da lah kau makan duit bunga dia puluh2 tahun tak kenyang2 ke?

Abistu orang melayu masuk army pangkat tinggi2 pon jadi apa? Berhenti masok Ass-tar? Pilot cume boleh bawak cargo plane je. Navy? Hahaha jangan buat kelakar sini ok aku serious.

Apa Singapore takde corruption? Takde nepotism? Kau tengok sape pegang post paling tinggi? Anak dia jadi apa skarang? Anak dia nye bini kerja mana? Gaji brape? Apa takde orang lain ke boleh buat kerja2 tu semua?

Please ah. Ada banyak lagi. Orang luar datang belajar ada scholarship, da tu dapat PR senang2. Gaji pon muai, NS tak kena. Sini punye policy semua pasal duit aje. Duit duit duit. Takde duit pegi mampos. Kau tengok casino. Kena pelawa mcm anak dara. Kompeni2 semua lagi precious dari orang. Ugama jangan cakap, aku tanya ustat2 aku, diorang pon tak tahu apa direction skarang.

Aku da give up. Ramai orang da give up.

Cuma yang aku tak paham, lepas ye2 berbual2 macam gini, aku tanye orang diorang nak vote sape, satu2 takot nak jawab. Bukan pasal secret, tapi pasal diorang takot kalau diorang vote PAP nanti tak dapat beli rumah, kena target pat kerja, hidop susah lah.

COME ON LAH!! Korang dah kenapa??! Berapa ramai orang vote PAP pon susah dapat rumah jugak, bodoh. Nak bet? Kau tanye makcik2 pengampu PAP yang selalu pakai baju putih, rebut2 salam cium tangan dengan MP PAP semua. Kau tanye diorang anak diorang senang dapat rumah tak? Kau tanye diorang time diorang bayar bill api air ada dapat special “Pembodek PAP Discount” tak? Ke diorang ada special EZ-link card bila naik MRT jadi orang cacat nak kena kasi diorang tempat duduk?

Takde dok! Semua sama je. Ni semua dalam kepala otak kita je. Aku baru baca pat suratkhabar hari ni, ada opposition punye orang dia dulu2 pon vote for opposition, padahal dia keje civil servant siak. Lepas tu dia masih dapat promoted macam biasa. Kawan2 aku vote opposition pon masih sama je. Pakcik makcik aku vote opposition pon lepas tu dapat promotion boleh tinggal bungalow some more!

Kenapa?

Pasal vote tu secret. Diorang tak boleh track. Blog agaknya orang boleh track, tapi vote tak boleh.

Memang voting card ada serial number, tapi tu untuk make sure yang that the card is authentic. Lepas tu kau tengok cara the vote is collected, dalam kotak, diorang longgokkan semua, dengan kehadiran (kan aku da pakai proper Malay word) opposition party members, it is impossible to know who voted for whom exactly. Kalau kau rajen sket pegi baca la pasal ni (link 1, 2). Jangan jadi pengecut tak tentu pasal! Macam mana Melayu nak maju gini?

Jadi kau, orang Melayu, yang konon2 berani, jiwa pendekar, cucu Hang Tuah, sepupu Badang, and most importantly orang yang ada agama. Kau tahu apa yang betul, apa yang salah. Kalau kau hidup bawah Fir’aun yang zalim, lepas tu Fir’aun intimidate/bayar kau untuk pilih dia jadi raja lagi, padahal kau tak agree dengan dia, AND kau ada choice lain. Tapi kau still vote for Fir’aun. Kau rasa what does that say about you?

Bodoh, focus sikit boleh tak. Walaupon PAP macam Fir’aun, aku tak cakap yang opposition tu Nabi Musa. Aku tanya, kau punye punye prinsip harga brapa? $600? $800? $1000? Atau the perception yang hidup kau akan susah?

Nanti lain kali kalau kau kene make hard choices, kau cuma nak pilih yang hidup senang dapat duit je? Kalau gitu, kau memang patot jadi PAP supporter sampai mampos.”

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Reflections in Ramadan

Ramadan comes, and so does all those who try to profit from it, whether spiritually or financially. The former congregates to mosques, the latter to bazaars which are mushrooming faster than I can consume iftar. And in any place where hundreds of people get together, some are bound to stand out more than the rest.

The short shirt + low jeans combo

Most people seem to forget that when going to mosques, you are not encouraged to eat food that may give off a foul smell, like onions, and to apply perfume, wear nice (non-smelly) clothes, brush your teeth, keep your voice down, etc. The purpose of which is to make sure you do not cause any form of distraction to those who want to perform their prayers in the house of Allah.

Unfortunately distractions still occur, and increasingly nowadays, one of the most irritating and common distraction is when a person do not even realise the proper way of covering their aurat.

Empirical evidence suggests that those who wear jeans are unaware it may get pulled down when you prostrate (sujud). Combine this with a short t-shirt that rides up your back, the result is visible buttcrack inter-gluteal cleft upon sujud.

For the recored, male aurat is between his navel and knee. The backside is between the navel and knee. Based on that infallible logic, one must ensure that portions of the derriere should be covered at all times when praying.

What has been seen, cannot be unseen.

I actually approached a stranger who unknowingly revealed his backside during prayers. The conversation was awkward; trying to explain politely to someone you haven’t met before that you can see that uncompromising cleft of his. And he replied, “What? I don’t understand.” I wouldn’t want to repeat that experience again.

People have been trying hard all Ramadan to lower their gaze, and sharing your backside with the rest of the saff behind you is hardly a gesture one can appreciate. Not that it’s something they enjoy anyway.

The most expensive biryani

Last weekend going through a road leading to a shopping mall, I found the traffic slow and congested. As a Ramadan bazaar was set up just beside it, at first I thought it was purely due to the immense concentration of people in the area. I was partially right. The culprit is the people – inconsiderate ones – who happily parked their cars along the stretch of road leading to the carpark. As I trundled along these parked cars, I realise that they are people who are rushing to buy food for iftar. Fellow Muslims.

One of the many bazaars in Ramadan. (Image credit)

I was so disappointed. Not only that, some were double-parking, making the already small road much harder to inch along. Such inconsiderate behaviour should never be displayed by Muslims, especially one who is fasting. What about the beauty of this religion, which tells you to watch your adab when you are in public. There’s hardly any display of commendable adab in inconveniencing other road users.

Maybe they’ll learn it the hard way. My father told me a story about a $75 dollars biryani. A man went to one of those Ramadan bazaar, and due to parking shortage, he parked his car by the side of the road to grab a pack of biryani. When he got back minutes later, there’s a parking ticket on his windshield. Price of the biryani: $5. Add the $70 to the total bill, and you have the most expensive biryani in town.

The ambiance of buka

I remember when I was in my teens, I used to earn the wrath of my father for always insisting to go out with friends for iftar. My father sometimes refused to let me go out, and would instead lecture me on wastefulness and many other things. I knew it was wasteful since you had to fork out money while there’s always food on the table at home, but I thought he never understood my appreciation of good company over food.

Recently for the first time in a long time, I decided to have my buka (aka iftar) at a popular eating place. With a variety of spread and reasonable price, I was looking forward to have a good meal at sunset. Alhamdulillah I must say the food wasn’t bad at all, but the same cannot be said of its ambiance.

Upon taking up seat prior to the iftar, we saw many Muslims who were rushing to get the food ready for themselves and their family. As sunset drew nearer, tables were getting filled fast with Muslims of different background. Some with colored hair, rashly conversing to their acquaintances. Others are in short skirts, while some are in bermudas with kids in tow. There’s a table behind me where its occupants were having heated discussions and almost shouting at each other. It was noisy, rowdy, and hardly qualifies as an Islamic impression.

While the company and food were good, I find there’s something terribly “empty” about having iftar at a commercial venue. Our routine is still the same compared with iftar elsewhere; afterward we went to perform our prayers and terawih. There’s a nagging feeling that something was missing in iftar, but I just can’t put my finger on it.

Iftar in a mosque. (Image credit)

Nevertheless, I did realize how it contrasted from having your iftar at home. or a mosque. At home, while the spread is usually more modest, it is definitely more relaxed. Even in a mosque with many others chattering away waiting for Maghrib, the background is calmer, and the whole place just seems brighter.

I’m not sure what it is, perhaps the nur and barakah of those who are sincere in preparing iftar?

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Self-control is contagious

People tend to mimic the behavior of those around them, and characteristics such as smoking, drug use and obesity tend to spread through social networks. But vanDellen’s study is thought to be the first to show that self-control is contagious across behaviors. That means that thinking about someone who exercises self-control by regularly exercising, for example, can make your more likely to stick with your financial goals, career goals or anything else that takes self-control on your part.

(Source)

So, it is true that circa 1400 years ago when the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ mentioned:

إِنَّمَا مَثَلُ الْجَلِيسِ الصَّالِحِ وَالْجَلِيسِ السَّوْءِ، كَحَامِلِ الْمِسْكِ وَنَافِخِ الْكِيرِ، فَحَامِلُ الْمِسْكِ إِمَّا أَنْ يُحْذِيَكَ، وَإِمَّا أَنْ تَبْتَاعَ مِنْهُ، وَإِمَّا أَنْ تَجِدَ مِنْهُ رِيحًا طَيِّبَةً، وَنَافِخُ الْكِيرِ، إِمَّا أَنْ يُحْرِقَ ثِيَابَكَ، وَإِمَّا أَنْ تَجِدَ رِيحًا خَبِيثَةً

“A good friend and a bad friend is like the perfume-seller and the blacksmith. The perfume-seller might give you some (perfume as a gift), or you might buy some from him, or you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might burn your clothes, or you might breathe in the fumes of the furnace.”

– al-Bukhari, Muslim (lafz is Muslim’s)

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On Being a Human Being

(Image credit)

But look at yourself. Your Islam which you wear like clothes is torn and dirty. Your heart is ignorant. Your existence is nothing but trouble and stress. But you put on the airs of a king, holding a book in your hand whose pages are black. While you have no care or love, you imagine that you care and love. Your beloved is only the phantom of this world. Right under your foot is the grave. The hereafter is a step away. Be aware. Now. There is no time.

(Source)

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