Although Walski has been on a blogging respite of late, he has been spending some time surfing around, visiting some of his favorite sites. You know, just to keep abreast of the goings on. It appears that while he was on his short blog holiday, a comedic episode had been brewing, involving Mutant Mullah MENJ, Interviewer-who-talks-too-damn-much Mahaguru58, Malaysia Today, and quite possibly a good portion of the bloggerhood.
The interview itself was comedic in its own right. Most of you have probably seen it by now, but just in case you havent't and have about 20 or so minutes to kill, by all means go take a look (Part 1 and Part 2). But the real comedy begins after the interview.
Walski won't delve into an analysis of what the interview contained. Let's just say, that in general, the interview was more or less Mahaguru58 talking endlessly off camera, and MENJ given the occassional chance to interject - in spurts - while the camera was focused on him all the damn time. In fact, it was more like Mahaguru58 interviewing himself, with sidekick MENJ having minimal contributary grunts and half-opinions. Walski was almost expecting MENJ to go Correct, correct, correct, correct... The real downside is that you have to look at MENJ's face throughout the interview.
The controversy? Well, let's just say it involves tattoos, Adolf Hitler, and a sense that it's okay to make scathing comments about other people, but not okay when the shoe is on the other foot...
(comedic faux pas, libel suits, and more, in the full post)
Earlier, Sean the Man had suggested that non-Muslims who don't want to risk themselves being claimed as Muslims post-mortem, should carry the "Hell NO, I'm not a Muslim" card - which Mahaguru58 has called a "direct clear insult against the Islamic Authorities of Malaysia". The card was mooted as a reaction to the latest round of body-snatching by the Islamic authorities, based on the claims, by the deceased's eldest son, a convert to Islam, that his late father had converted. But more on that later.
And the real source of controversy: during the interview, Mahaguru58 suggested that since it's possible that one could lose such a card, a more permenant solution would be for the non-Muslims, who so choose, to tattoo the word "Kafir" on their selves, specifically on their chests or foreheads. Now, that in itself wouldn't have been so bad, if it weren't for the fact that this labelling, even in jest, was associated with the labelling that was carried out by Adolf Hitler during the Second World War.
Now, you may, or may not, want to believe that The Holocaust happened the way that it's conventionally understood to have happened. Or the scale of Adolf Hitler's Final Solution for dealing with the European Jews and other undesirables. The point is that the labelling Hitler carried out - in this case tattooing - was for the purpose of discrimination, and eventual extermination. Suggesting anything to be done to anyone, and associating it with Hitler, is going to naturally conjure all sorts of nasty imagery and imagined reasons why anyone would want to do similar kinds of labelling.
And suggesting that something be done, "just like Hitler did" is definitely not going to win you any Islamic PR brownie points.
Well, it goes without saying that there were those who didn't like what was said, and spoke out against it. That's the beauty of free speech, by the way - you don't like something, you speak out against it.
But now, MENJ wants to take action on those who spoke out against him and Mahaguru58 - for alleged slander. The "offending" critiques? Primarily this article at ShadowFox's Hideout, and this one published at Malaysia Today. The so-called "libel" is a reaction of disgust, from the bloggerhood, to the video published online, in public domain. Suing Raja Petra would probably make his day - which would be really bad news for our good friend MENJ.
And that folks is the real comedy - the notion that free speech is okay when you're making the speech, but when others attack what you've said, it's libel. Funny, too, how someone like MENJ, who supposedly supports freedom of speech (and exercises it quite liberally, too), conveniently hides behind the libel skirt when it suits him. Some would even call such behavior hypocritical.
Some other comedic moments are contained in the video itself, and not just in its aftermath. Like the assertion that the Christians are getting out of hand and are forcing Christianity down the throats of Muslims. Now that's really funny. Walski always thought it was the Islamic authorities and some over-exhuberant Muslims that were forcing Islam down the gullet of the nation. How mistaken Walski's been all this while... dang!
Well, whether or not MENJ goes ahead with his libel suit is left to be seen. Walski's advice: if you can't take the heat, get out of the fucking kitchen. But then again, MENJ being MENJ, Walski is the last person he would even want to consider for advice. So be it - no skin off Walski's back, really.
But underlying the uneasiness brought about by the Mahaguru58/MENJ video, is the fear revolving around the very same Islamic authorities that Mahaguru58 says the "Hell NO, I'm not a Muslim" card insults. More precisely, how much leaway these authorities are given in upholding what they see to be Islamic, even if it goes against any common sense of civility and respect for others. Or just plain common sense, for that matter.
In the recent Gan vs. Gan case, the eldest son, Gan Hock Seng, a Muslim convert, claimed post-mortem that his father Gan Eng Gor had converted to Islam several months prior. Now, based on testimony given by the rest of the family, it does really make one wonder how this could have been possible. But wait... Abdul Rahman Gan brought forth documents.
Dodgy documents, but enough to convince the authorities, who, of course, acted on these claims without pausing to review any other evidence, and claimed the body during the family's wake. Assisting the Islamic authorities was the police. Yes, the very same crime-fighters who seem to be very actively doing stuff... like assisting in body-snatching exercises... as long as it's not fighting crime.
A new archetype in the Mutant Mullah universe?
(original Body Snatcher pix from here)
Now, imagine the trauma if, while having a wake for a dead family member, the police barge in and take the body away, saying that you don't have the right to bury your family member the way you want to. Nevermind what religion you happen to profess. Wouldn't this be a traumatic experience regardless?
And that's exactly the point that many Muslims (not all) seem to have missed - the sheer anguish that the Islamic authorities have inflicted upon the family of the late Gan Eng Gor. Walski would add, with impunity.
But in the minds of most (not all) Muslims is the wonder of why everyone else is making a big fuss about being buried a Muslim. Try reversing the tables and put yourselves in the shoes of others for a change.
And then, there is another possible reason for the uneasiness - the question of what is to become of the deceased Gan's property, assuming he left any? Will the non-Muslim children even see a single cent? Or will a portion go to the eldest (now Muslim) Gan, with the remaining portion going to the Sunni Islamic institution of Baitulmal?
Well, it so happens, in Walski's opinion, that in Malaysia, Islam is more than just an institution, it's a bureaucracy.
Bureaucracies, in general, are stickler for rules. The Islamic Bureaucracy of Malaysia is no different. And the rules state quite clearly - non-Muslims cannot inherit from Muslims. Don't believe Walski? Well, take a look at this document (also available here), from the eSyariah website. Specifically, take a look at item 7 on page 3. Walski has taken the liberty of translating this particular section into English:
7. Prerequisites of inheritance
Apart from basic principles and reasons, the Islamic inheritance system has also determined conditions/prerequisites of how the inheritance shall be divided:
- Benefactor must have first died
- Beneficiary mush have been alive at the time of benefactor's death
- Nothing prevents beneficiary from receiving inheritance, namely:
- Difference of religion
Hence, bureaucracies being bureaucracies (the one thing that's actually and truly universal), Islamic ones notwithstanding, there are valid grounds to fear these authorities, who tend to sometimes carry out their charge overzealously. And the fear isn't isolated to non-Muslims either.
Not helping matters is the fact that the Civil Courts have pretty much made it totally clear that any case even having a whiff of Syariah is not their jurisdiction, and not to be touched with a 10-ft pole. And the Syariah courts, constitutionally, only have jurisdiction over Muslims. In the case of the Gan family, therefore, they're literally up shit creek, without a paddle, in a leaky canoe, and without any deoderant handy. In short, they're totally, unequivocally screwed.
And rightly or wrongly, justly or otherwise, it is within this context that the Islamic authorities operate. The lack of political will to address the many grey areas that exist between the two parallel systems of justice simply makes matters worse. And this is what has gotten many people, non-Muslims in particular, worried.
That the right to practice the religion of their choice and conscience can be so easily trampled upon. And compounding this is Muslim activists such as Mahaguru58 and MENJ - who appear to speak on behalf of the majority of Muslims in this country - to view these trampling of rights as inconsequential - at least, that's the impression Walski got from watching the video. The impression is that the rights accorded to Islam in this country must be safeguarded from any little "threat" - real or perceived - but that they don't give a damn about when the rights of others, who do not believe in the same creed they do, get trampled.
Not to imply, of course, that the first-born Gan, now a Muslim, had any ulterior inheritance-driven motive in wanting to claim his dad was a Muslim. In truth, no one, save God and the eldest son of a Gan, will ever really know.
To his credit, however, Walski should note that Mahaguru58 did speak out against another case surrounding the non-Muslim mother of a convert, the late Mohamed Redzuan Abdullah (formerly Ragu Ellaiappan), whom has been denied the right to claim insurance monies left to her (being the only beneficiary), on the grounds that she is not a Muslim.
Well, if you look at the document Walski referred you to earlier, you will find references that naming a beneficiary in your will (and in this case insurance) doesn't mean squat, as the Islamic Authorities are the ones that ultimately decide who gets what portion of your loot. In particular, look at item 12 iii (on page 9) - which states that a decision had been made, and that the Attorney General would draft laws to the effect that, Muslims would not be allowed to name nominees (applicable to your EPF, Life Insurance, etc.). Even if you leave a will, only one third of your estate can be included - the rest must be distributed according to Faraid laws.
As things stand today, those who are born into Islam, or opt into the faith, in this country have no choice but to be labelled - not by means of a tattoo - but by having Islam stamped on their identity card, whether they like it or not. And for the most part, the reason for forcing this onto Muslims is so that they can be easily identified. The same reason Hitler labelled the Jews and other undesirables in Germany and much of German-occupied Europe - to be easily identified.
And the reason for this ease of identification is so that the Islamic authorities can easily authoritate themselves upon the right people. In other words, it is for not much other reasons, but for enforcement purposes.
Most Muslims, apparently, do not mind being branded that way (in fact, many are proud of it), and would willingly subjucate their existence to the mercy of the Islamic authorities. Fine and good, if you like being branded, like cattle. Which probably explains the herd mentality that many of Malaysia's Muslims exhibit.
Funny, Walski always thought that what is in one's heart is more important than what's stated on any earthly documents. Perhaps, just like with who's getting out of hand mentioned previously, he's once again mistaken. Perhaps we do get carded before being allowed entry to the next level of existence...
Incidentally, Walski doesn't regard individuals like MENJ or Mahaguru58 as bad people, per se. On the contrary, Walski is certain that they are actually good people, with great passion for their faith. The problem with such people - and not just Muslims, but people of all faiths - is when they believe that what they believe is the absolute truth in their hearts, minds, and souls, and that no other possible alternative exists for them.
In extreme cases, no other alternatives should be allowed to exist for anyone else, either. Apart from the basic tenets of belief, Islam is far from monolithic and homogenous - there are many divergent schools of thought that have developed long after the death of Prophet Muhammad, and long after the revelation of the Quran. Same thing with Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any other system of belief - there are many sects, schools of thought and what not, within each system of belief.
And it is the rigidity, born out of passion for their belief, that is what we're seeing here. To Walski, at the very least. And Walski's merely stating his opinion, and not forcing it down anyone's throats, by the way. You see it a different way, so be it... it's your right, too.
In the end, however, bad behavior has to be identified as bad behavior. And promoting one's faith at the expense of the faith of others, is bad behavior. Pain and sufferage are universal - everybody will feel some at some points in their lives. But when the pain and sufferage of others are callously brushed aside and regarded as insignificant, you open up all kinds of hurt and resentment.
There is an age-old adage - commonly attributed to the Christian faith, but is actually quite universal - do unto others, as you would want others to do unto you. It's a good adage, and it promotes good, friendly behavior.
It's just that because Malaysia is what it has become, there are sometimes those who choose to do unto others, as long as others don't have the right to do the same unto them.
Think about it...
In the meantime, the bigger Mutant Mullah Comedy Show continues its run. It's been running for far longer than before the two-part video, and will continue to run for some time to come. For how much longer it will continue to provide comedic value?
Now, that's the real question... innit?