OUTSPOKEN: Our futures are decided by people with closed minds. Malaysian Muslims fear their own shadows and appear to demand respect from people of other faiths.
Are policies, determined by introverted and less educated mullahs, who condemn us to a life of conservative Islam? Are these mullahs very insecure, or ignorant, or both?
These mullahs appear to transfer their own insecurities to other Muslims. They fear contamination from an un-opened tin of spam, and think that listening to western music will pollute their senses. They imagine that pig’s milk, not cow’s milk, is used to make butter.
The daughter of the first PM, Tunku Abdul Rahman went to a boarding school, a Convent in Penang. The son of the second Prime Minister, Abdul Razak Hussein, attended a mission school, in Kuala Lumpur, before he was sent to Malvern College, in England, which is a Church of England (CoE) school.
Many of the Malay royal families sent, and continue to send their sons and daughters to CoE schools. Prominent Malay businessmen also send their children to boarding schools overseas; some of the children are only seven years old.
They would not send their children to study abroad, if they knew their children would be converted, or that the education in Malaysia was just as good.
These Malaysians, who went to school in England, are still Muslims.
Contrary to what some mullahs think, Mission schools, the Cross, and the Bible have no power to convert Muslims. Perhaps, it is the mullahs’ faith, which is fragile.
This happens in CoE boarding schools:-
Every morning, the boarders are woken up by the first bell, followed by a second one, ten minutes later.
Twenty minutes later, another bell rings, to signify that breakfast is served, in the dining room. No-one is allowed to miss a meal, and each person must look out for others on her table, so that any eating disorder can be detected.
The vegetarians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and anyone with specific food allergies, will have sorted-out their dietary requirements, with the House Matron, at the start of term.
During lunch and dinner, the House Mistress or Matron, will say grace, and people of other faiths, for example, the Muslims can quietly give their own blessing.
Everyone says “Amen”. The diners sit and eat together. No one bats an eyelid when roast pork is served, as alternatives are available for those with religious and dietary concerns.
There are no ugly scenes, if the kitchen makes a mistake. It is all dignified and respectable. The error is reported to the house matron.
After breakfast, the boarders must attend compulsory assembly in the main school hall. The head-mistress and head-girl, will read passages from the Bible. Hymns will be sung, psalms read, and school events are announced, at the end of the service.
Anyone who likes singing, is invited to join the choir. Those with a musical talent, can play the organ or other musical instruments. The school orchestra will make its debut at Christmas when special carol services will be held.
There are many Muslims, in these CoE schools. Some are the daughters of prominent middle-eastern, Muslim families, from Jordan, Lebanon, and Iran.
The Christian Arabs do not despise the Muslim Arabs. The Muslim girls do not fear the cross, nor do they feel a need for special cutlery and crockery, when food is served.
The schoolchildren are taught about other faiths and learn to respect people of other religions. Visits to temples, churches and synagogues are arranged. On festive days, special foods are served, so that children can understand how others celebrate their important faith days.
For instance, during Ramadan, everyone would marvel at the will-power of the Muslims who fast, despite having a gruelling day in class and on the sports field. No one makes an excuse, to be let off work or physical activity. It is treated as another, normal day. Other children will learn why Muslims fast.
In Malaysia, it is a common spectacle to see bushes emitting smoke and smoky toilet cubicles during Ramadan. At most CoE schools, there are no such worries, because smoking is an offence that is punished with expulsion.
Many Muslim girls are good athletes and swimmers. There are no howls of anguish because they are dressed improperly.
Today, many have achieved successful careers. Why? They did not have the religious and moral brigade watching and condemning their every move.
The same is not true today. For the Malay girl, an inappropriate item of clothing, or an unguarded gesture, will invite the wrath of the moral police, or the conservative busy-bodies. – The Ant Daily
Mariam Mokhtar is “a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth”.