15 December 2011

Non-halal books? What’s next?

DEC 15 — Muslims can now can look forward (or backward) to bookstores having halal and non-halal sections nationwide.
Publishers get ready. Books about yoga, the poco-poco dance and even Lee Kuan Yew’s “Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going” will be placed in the non-halal section. 
If you haven’t heard, Jakim has declared Lee’s book haram.
But do not worry, no rush, you still have ample time. It took Jakim nine months before they realised Lee Kuan Yew’s book was not suitable for Malaysian Muslims.
According to The Malaysian Insider15 books/magazines were declared haram by Jakim. Upon going to their site, I found out that one of them is “Majalah Tora Aman Doraemon — Kisah Penciptaan Dunia”.
Though Doraemon made the cut, romance books by Mills and Boons, books like “Poem of the Man God”, “The Da Vinci Code”, “The Anarchist Cookbook”, “Misteri Nusantara”, “Koleksi Cerita Hantu Asia” did not make it to the list.
And if I may add, anyone reading and believing in Doraemon needs a trip to Tanjung Rambutan. 
Lee Kuan Yew’s book may be offensive to some but then again it is not compulsory reading. I know I am pushing the fantasy further but even IF it is made compulsory reading, Jakim should not have banned it but instead pursued legal and civil way to deal with the matter. 
They must realise that we are not a country of mullahs and ayatollahs, but a constitutional democracy that protects the civil rights of everyone, and yes that includes Muslims.
Muslims are therefore free to choose what to read and insinuating we will become less of a Muslim just from reading certain books, or doing yoga, is very, very insulting; demeaning and superficial to say the least. 
Books, works of art, public debates are essential to critical thinking, problem solving and the maturing of a society. It creates a nation of critical thinkers who look for and find answers outside the box. Banning books no matter how controversial they are cannot be the answer, what more in the name of protecting Malaysian Muslims. 
The country needs thinkers, at this juncture now more than ever.
Controversial works usually define an era, and are remembered many years later. Remember “Ulysses” by James Joyce, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, or even our own “The Malay Dilemma”? Each is significant in their own way, marking the evolution of mind and the progress of society it represents. Such books are thought provoking, and require a certain level of intelligence to comprehend. 
We do not want this action by Jakim to be a precedent which, if left unchecked, will lead us to follow in the footsteps of the Chinese during the Qin Dynasty where they burned books and buried their scholars, or the Nazis when they burned Jewish literature, or the Spanish conquistadors when they destroyed the Aztec codices.
Muslims nowadays are preoccupied with issues that do not bring benefit to them. The Star, on December 8, 2011, wrote that the Saudis refuse to let their women drive because that would result in them losing their virginity paralleled with a definite surge in prostitution, pornography and divorce.
I wonder what kind of cars they drive in Saudi Arabia. 
We in Malaysia must stand up and say NO to these moral police, and make our voices heard by those attempting to trample our civil rights. Religion should be between man and God, and no good can come from “holier than thou” people trying to facilitate this sacred bond. 
If Jakim is serious about dealing with social ills, then please start with the smokers, Mat Rempits, drug addicts and the rampant corruption in the country. Hold seminars, talks, counselling sessions to stamp out these ills instead of sitting in a group discussing about banning Doraemon. 
Get the Muslim kids to do well in school, teach them extra languages and equip them to go the extra mile for the nation. Educate them beyond skin colour, and the superficial dogma that stigmatises the Muslim world today.
Besides, we should be sensitised from all the insensitive comments made by our own politicians by now, to bother about what an old politician down south has to say about us.
Move on Jakim, or move out.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist. Click here for full news


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