LETTER | May 10, 2018, was a very special day for Malaysians. For those of us who voted for a change, it meant waking up to a renewed sense of pride.
Because, let’s face it, for the longest time, so many of us have been feeling quite embarrassed by our own country.
For so long, Malaysia has made international headlines for all the wrong reasons: corruption, fraud, misappropriation… it had become difficult to face the international community without feeling a bit of shame for allowing such exploitation to fester in our country.
So, in this 14th general election, we changed that, because, truly at the core, our love for this country speaks louder than our urge to just run away from it.
And so we did.
And we thought that given the questionably low bar set by the previous government where connectedness with the community was concerned, it would be pretty hard for a political party that claims to be people-centric to let us down.
So excuse us for feeling disappointed that it has come to this, because we voted for a progressive New Malaysia that is eager to be recognised by the rest of the world for all the right reasons. A Malaysia that we can be proud of.
We did not vote for a Malaysia that condones oppression, silencing and fundamentalism.
We did not vote for a Malaysia that wishes to travel back to the medieval times of public cruelty and torture.
It is appalling that not only are videos of the public caning currently circulating via social media, but also that there are people encouraging this to be normalised in the country, to a point where caning should not be something that people are shocked by anymore, according to the Terengganu state executive councillor.
It is indeed a disturbing sign of times when a state government actually wants people to be desensitised to seeing other people get publicly humiliated and hurt.
It is even more troubling that Islam is being used to justify such conditioning of the community.
In the Holy Quran, Allah s.w.t. tells us that, “those who love (to see) scandal published (and) broadcast among the Believers will have a grievous penalty in this lifetime and in the Hereafter” [24:19]. In fact, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said that it is wicked for someone to demean a fellow Muslim (Bukhari).
Every human being, by virtue of being descendants of Prophet Adam (peace and blessings be upon him), has been granted dignity and honour (karamah) [17:70] and this is something no one can deny. We are obligated to recognise that all humans are Allah’s vicegerents (khalifah) on this earth, for even when questioned by the angels, Allah tells them that “I know what ye know not” [2:30].
To be respectful of each other’s dignity is so sacred, that Allah tells us that it is wrong to defame and be sarcastic to each other or call each other by offensive nicknames because we can never know if they could be better people than we are [49:11].
Surah Hujurat goes on to explicitly tell us to avoid suspicion, because to even be suspicious of another person can be considered a sin and this includes going out of the way to spy on each other behind their backs [49:12].
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) himself tells us not to search for each other’s faults, “for if anyone searches for the faults of others, Allah will search for their faults,” (Hasan Sahih (Al-Albani)). Even in doing so, the Hadith goes on to say that, “If Allah searches for the fault of anyone, They will be disgraced in their house,” – such is the grace and mercy of Allah who dislikes public humiliation and mockery [104:1].
It is about time that we stop using Islam as an excuse to exert oppression onto others, and accept that Islam is and must be known foremost for its gentleness, kindness and mercy.
Some of the most sacred names of Allah are Al-Ghafoor (The Most Forgiving: mentioned over 70 times in the Holy Quran), Al-Rahman (The Most Merciful: mentioned 57 times in the Holy Quran) and Al-Raheem (The Most Compassionate: mentioned 115 times in the Holy Quran). So mighty is Allah that They can forgive every (other) sin from whomsoever They will [4:116] and Allah, in fact, loves to forgive (At Trimidhi and Ibn Majah).
This is the beauty of Islam which must prevail over everything that we do as a people and as a country.
This is what our country must be known for.
This is the country that we want to be proud of.
MAJIDAH HASHIM is communications manager for Sisters in Islam. She can be reached on Twitter at @majidahhashim.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.