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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Deepavali greetings can cause syirik??

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Related posts:
De-Kongsi-fication of Malaysian Celebrations
The Mystery of Kongsi-Raya Remains a Mystery
Putting the Conservative Muslims' fear into perspective

Update: After giving this some due consideration, to be fair, pending verification of the e-mail, Walski has decided to withhold the identity of where the e-mail originated from. Again, your help in authenticating this e-mail would be very much appreciated by Walski.

A friend of Walski's forwarded him an e-mail that supposedly originated from a well-known insurance corporation. Not all of it has been translated here, but you can view the original version through this link (PDF, in Bahasa Malaysia; opens in a new window).

The e-mail contains prohibition to all corporation employees from uttering Deepavali greetings - as in "Happy Deepavali" - claiming that this will lead to syirik (blasphemy, or more specifically the association of any object or person with God).

The following are portions of the e-mail translated into English. Some emphasis is by myAsylum, while others are from the original Bahasa Malaysia e-mail. The subject of the e-mail is "Durga Pooja Greetings / Lakshmi Pooja Greetings / Deepavali Greetings". The mail opens with the usual salutory greetings, and a general welcome to the holy month of Ramadhan. It goes on to state the following:

As Sir / Madam may be aware, apart from the Aidil Fitri celebration, which will be celebrated by Muslims this month, Hindus will also observe 3 of their celebrations, as stated in the subject above.

I am happy to inform you that employees of need to be careful with their greetings for certain celebrations, other than those in Islam. The implications of these greetings must be scrutinized, especially those that concern (religious) regulations and belief.

Following this, the e-mail proceeds to explain the significance of the three Hindu celebrations. Then comes the clincher, which Walski finds somewhat disturbing.
(corporate prohibition, and more, in the full post)

After analyzing all three celebrations, it is clear that they have to do directly with the beliefs of the Hindu religion. All Malaysian staff are prohibited from uttering well wishes for all three of the above celebrations, and others like them, because doing this can cause syirik. The corporate culture of this corporation, which is based on the Syariat will not allow for this to happen, even for customers professing the Hindu faith, or other religions, whereby well-wishes concern their deities. Wishes of Happy Durga Pooja, Happy Lakshmi Pooja and Happy Deepavali is akin to giving well-wishes to the Hindu gods called Durga, Lakshmi and Krishna. And this is clearly against (Islamic) belief.

God has decreed in Surah ali-‘imran, verse 18, which states: “God bears witness that there is no god but Him”. In Surah Muhammad, verse 1, God decrees: “Know, therefore, that there is no God except Allah”.

For those whom have inadvertently given well-wishes to the Hindus, like the three greetings above must immediately repent and to not repeat doing so in the future.

Now, regardless of whether the e-mail actually came from the corporation is secondary - what's disturbing is that the narrowest and most myopic interpretations of Islam are being spread amongst the Muslims in this country. By whom exactly, Walski will not speculate, but obviously these person(s) are from the ultra-conservative camp.

Walski is ready to withdraw this post, and the attachment, if it is discovered that the e-mail is a prank. Until he can verify the mail, one way or another, it stays on myAsylum. Any feedback to corroborate or debunk the e-mail would be appreciated.

Sad, isn't it? Since when has even giving a fellow Malaysian of another faith well wishes on their auspicious day become un-Islamic? This sort of exclusionist, myopic and paranoid behavior, on the part of some Muslims, is what gives Islam such a bad rep.

But if it turns out that this is indeed a real corporate directive from said corporation to its employees, it is the kind of corporate culture that Malaysia definitely does not need.