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Thursday, January 10, 2008


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Related posts: Earth-Sun-Moon: Have Muslims gotten it ALL WRONG?

The missing 'a' is intentional. Like mal-formed, mal-nourished, or mal-adroit... And in keeping up with the wrongness of it all, this post also comes to you approximately 30 hours late (the Islamic "day" starts at dusk, in case you were wondering).

But not to diss those who wish to ignore the Earth's orbit around the sun, and its effects on nature and the seasons, Happy 1429 all the same.

Where Walski was earlier when he started writing this post (he actually has to work today), it was a rainy and overcast mal-New Year's Day. Fitting, actually, if you think about it. Regardless, for most people in Malaysia, yesterday was a public holiday, one of the many we have annually (in whichever calendar you observe).

1428H, as far as Malaysia goes, saw a hightened divide in inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations. Arbitrary copyrighting certain words for Muslims only definitely didn't help. 1429, Walski expects, may see Malaysians further polarized along religious lines, the way things are going. And so it was rather appropriate that Walski came across this letter from Syed Alwi published at Malaysia Today.

The letter goes on to state that for Muslims to wake up and smell the 21st century (Walski's paraphrasing here), they will have to un-mire their state of mind that is by and large stuck in 10th century mode. In other words, a "Hijrah" of the mindset.
(more mal-formed thoughts on this Mal-New Year's day, in the full post)

But old habits are hard to break. Even more difficult are entrenched points of view. Putting all kinds of restrictions on Islamic publications that don't fit the officially sanctioned viewpoints is another compounding obstacle. A double whammy, if you would. A sum total of which almost guarantees the continuum of entrenchedness.

There are, however, small groups of Muslims worldwide working towards reinterpreting scripture, making it more relevant for the world today. But these are rather isolated for the most part, and usually demonized by the Islamic establishment as heretics. It may take another whole generation or three before such movements gain any significant mindshare.

One interesting thing to contrast, however - the country with world's largest Muslim population - our neighbor, Indonesia. Religion is allowed to be a personal choice and conviction - as it should be - rather than being imposed on by the state, like it is here in Malaysia. Yes, there are those in Indonesia, too, who instigate inter-religious rifts, but the difference is that these are, by and large, individuals or organizations, and not the state itself. While the official rhetoric from our leaders is one of harmony, the actions of the Islamic state bureaucracy contradicts the rhetoric.

So, will things be fine in 1429? Will there be less hate, like there was in 1428?

Rhyming hypothetical questions aside, Walski honestly doesn't know. He hopes that whatever rifts that have developed can be bridged. But these bridge-building exercises have to start from the ground up. From individual and community action, and not reliant upon the bureaucracy.

Left on its own, otherwise, this will be another Mal-Hijrah year, like the few that have gone past in recent memory...