COMMENT | Recently, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, advised Muslims in the country to avoid working at outlets that sell alcohol. As alcoholic beverages are forbidden for Muslims, he advised them to check the nature of work before accepting any jobs.
Mujahid said this when asked to comment on a video circulating on social media where a Muslim cashier working at a convenience store in Johor Bahru was harshly criticised for refusing to scan an alcoholic beverage.
While Mujahid’s advice had angered many netizens who accused the minister of reinforcing Muslims in Malaysia with deluded ideas about Islam, I welcome his advice with open arms.
You see, some few years ago, while waiting for his SPM results, a friend of mine worked as a temporary staff at a supermarket. After a few weeks of working inside the supermarket, one day he was ordered by his supervisor to carry stocks from the loading bay.
My friend however refused to do so because the boxes he was supposed to carry contained alcohol beverages. As a Muslim, he felt it was sinful to not only touch the boxes, but he felt the act of carrying it into the building was akin to promoting it.
Not willing to do something against his personal belief, my friend left his job. He did not put up a fight or protest for his right as a Muslim to work in a place free of forbidden substances – instead, he just left.
Now, although I do not think carrying boxes of alcoholic beverages is forbidden in Islam, I do however believe my friend is entitled to his personal beliefs. In fact, I have tremendous respect for my friend who decided to leave his job after realising that it was not on par with his beliefs.
Unlike the Muslim cashier at the convenience store who stayed on in her job while refusing to fulfil her duty to scan products that customers had wished to purchase, my friend did not force anyone to tolerate his decision not to carry the stocks of alcoholic drinks.
Get job that suits
Sadly, in our country, there are not many people like my friend. Some of the Muslims we have around us often wish to rub their personal beliefs in the faces of everyone around them, forcing others to adapt to their set of beliefs.
I am sure you remember the case of a female Muslim nurse who made complaints against a private hospital back in December 2015, claiming that she was terminated by the hospital management when she insisted on wearing long-sleeved uniform, which was against the hospital’s dress code.
Also, how can we forget the case of 13 hotels who were forced to change their standard operating procedures (SOP) early this year in order to accommodate Muslim staff. The SOP had initially followed the rules and regulations of international hotels, which prohibit frontline staff from donning headscarfs while on duty.
If only all of them had followed the advice of Mujahid, the Muslim cashier would’ve applied for a job at a place where she wouldn’t have had to deal with forbidden substances; the Muslim nurse would’ve applied for a job at a hospital where Islamic attire was permitted; and Muslims who study hospitality and tourism would’ve applied for jobs at hotels that allowed headscarfs to be worn at hotel frontlines.
They would have selected jobs that were in accordance with their beliefs, without forcing their beliefs upon their customers and employers.
As such, don’t you think Mujahid’s advice should be welcomed by everyone?
Well, I for one applaud Mujahid for coming up with good solid advice this time around. And I believe it is time Muslims in Malaysia learn to make wise decisions based on their personal beliefs, instead of shovelling their beliefs down everyone’s throat.
FA ABDUL is a passionate storyteller, a growing media trainer, an aspiring playwright, a regular director, a struggling producer, a self-acclaimed photographer, an expert Facebooker, a lazy blogger, a part-time queen and a full-time vainpot.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.