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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sparta! and other bad analogies...

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Big hat-tip to The Boinq, for pointing Walski's attention to this...

Image taken from Malaysiakini, hosting by PhotobucketYesterday, as part of their coverage of the ongoing PAS Muktamar (Convention), Malaysiakini carried an article focusing on PAS' Mursyidul Am (Spiritual Advisor), Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who is also Kelantan Chief Minister. The part that Walski found interesting was this (making an analogy about those leaving the fold of Islam):

“It’s like joining the army. You can choose to join. But if you wear a uniform, start training only to desert later, you’ll be caught by the military police,” he told a press conference in Kota Baru last night.

Reading this analogy, the first thing that popped into Walski's head was

Ready your breakfast and eat hearty... For tonight... we dine... in Kelantan!
(more bad analogies, and Spartan thoughts, in the full post)

Yes, once again the film 300 finds itself as the source of unlikely comedy. Walski knows just how cliche this is... he simply could not help it.

Now, Nik Aziz's analogy is pretty bad for a number of reasons. First off, no one is born into the army, unless you're talking about ancient Sparta. Unless you come from a totally different yet-to-be-discovered dimension, no one chooses to be born, nor chooses which family to be born into. It's a different case altogether with those who embrace Islam, as adults, coming into the religion on their own free will.

Secondly, it's the uniform bit. There is no uniform, per se, in Islam - you know, as in the dressing kind. There are a number of Muslims, however, who think that wearing robes and turbans are a requirement of piety - following the Prophet Muhammad's example, they say. It's a requirement if you wanna look like an Arab, maybe.

Lastly, as pointed out by a commenter in The Boinq's posting on this, these kind of analogies don't help one bit in ridding the mis-perception that Islam is a militant religion. Neither does the kind of analogy that equates apostates to being spies and traitors to a country - as made by a certain self-acclaimed pro blogger.

We're not exactly talking about Sparta here, people. Granted, the good Tuan Guru Nik Aziz does live a rather spartan lifestyle... to his credit.

Here's something interesting that Walski would like to relate to you. And it kinda exemplifies how some people, whom we may generally pooh-pooh as being backward, are actually quite liberated when it comes to religion. It's about what Walski's uncle's domestic assistant (otherwise more commonly known as a maid - a Muslim, from Indonesia) had to say about the whole Lina Joy thingy - "Why all the big fuss? If someone doesn't want to be a Muslim anymore, why not just let her change her religion? Things like this don't happen in Indonesia".

Incidentally, it is this same liberated mindset that many conservatives within the Malaysian Ulama circles are trying so hard, tooth and nail, to fight. Walski won't digress further into this right now. Suffice it to say that while Malaysia may have come a long way in terms of material development, we have an equally long way (if not further) to go before our collective mindset is truly liberated from being colonialized. It's just that in most cases we simply don't realize from whose colonization we're trying to liberate our minds from.

And since one bad analogy deserves another, here's Walski's analogy about why it is futile to force someone to remain a Muslim when in their hearts their faith lies with another system of belief.

You can bring a horse to water, but you can't force it to play Water Polo

Get the general picture?