Monday, February 14, 2011

Why Ayaan's Infidel feels so personal

I wrote this a while back also:

As always, religion has ALWAYS been an issue with me. Well, not because I am denying the notion of the human need to have a religion, but it's about the way I think or I see things is...unconventional.

I know I don't have a "religious" family, they never bug me to pray and what not, but they're not freethinkers either, I think.

I am very much aware that I lack religious knowledge (despite the fact that I almost always get A's on my Agama) and religion is only implemented loosely. Don't take it the wrong way, they do teach me morals, like what's right and wrong to the extent that I am almost overprotected. And I assure you, I don't go around rubbing boys' arses, mind you.

But due to bad experiences with supposedly "religious" people, I become hard-hearted and ironically prejudiced to this group of people. I can't help it. Sometimes, you just can't get along with certain people. As acquaintances, colleges, yeah, maybe you'd swallow your ego, but as a friend, a bosom buddy, a life partner? oh no...

I don't wear a tudung during primary school, and no, I don't pray, and I don't go to Sekolah Agama (it's a school where you go to during after school sessions to learn about fekah, and stuff like that) and I speak in English all the time because I'm so influenced by the American cartoons and I read storybooks and my parents insist that I speak and write in proper English. To these people, I'm weird. I've been weird for like, forever, I don't know whether it's my upbringing, or my destiny, or my environment (this seems least likely) or am I inherently weird.

And just because I don't wear a tudung, I don't pray, I don't go to Sekolah Agama, all those Ustaz and Ustazah see me as a problematic kid. The fact that I speak English is also another reason why they think I am so "distant" from God because they equate English to Christians and infidels. I get teased at, yes, by my fellow friends too because they all go to Sekolah Agama. (I think I'm jinxed because I always end up in a 100% Malay batch. Thank God, I'm in Taylor's now). And yeah, most of them including the Ustaz and Ustazah are not that proficient in English. These people also keep freaking me out with "oh, you're going to go to hell if you don't wear tudung."

In Standard Two, I started writing stories featuring foreign characters. I have never used a local name in my stories in primary school, which further led these people to believe that I idolize Western figures, and their religion. How close-minded these people are. I was treated like I was a traitor to my own race and an infidel. I admit, sometimes I hated being a Malay, I thought that they were the lamest race around. Whoa! Hold your horses, don't shoot me for lack of nationalism yet. I had always dreamed to go overseas since my parents were overseas graduates as well. I planned to go to the US and never return, because I thought that Malaysia sucked pretty bad. Hey, I was in Primary School!

Then, I went to Faris Petra, which is like an ultra-Malay community. I started questioning about God, about why was I born a Muslim, what if I were born with some other religion. Like, I didn't want to be a Muslim only because I was born a Muslim, I want to be a Muslim because I CHOOSE to be a Muslim. Some people took it the wrong way and thought that I was planning to convert to another religion or something. The fact that those people spread rumors that my mom was a convert and she divorced my dad to revert to her previous religion did little to help my reputation. I actually got sent for counselling. I was treated like a potential murtad or something. Yes, I had a few discipline cases since Form 1 that I didn't pray and stuff like that. I get called to the warden's room to write statements and confession letters and stuff like that.

So, the question of God and why was I a Muslim just died there and then, I try my best to follow the religious teachings there, but I was still being my rebellious self as usual. I did the wajib ones, but the sunat ones I didn't do. However, I did find myself enjoying reading the Quran. I khatam-ed it on my own, but only once, and that was in Form 1. Reading the Quran gave me solace. I don't understand a thing what I was reading, but somehow, the sound of the recitations and how those hurufs just roll of my tongue, it felt good, it made me feel closer to God than prayer ever did. I had it in me then, that I wanted to be "good".

I never actually stuck wearing tudung until I was in Form 4, maybe the end of Form 3. The tudung still came off when I play golf. But out of all my siblings, I actually stuck with the tudung, because I have always been bogeyman-ed (is there such a term?) that not wearing tudung will send you to hell. In Form Two I had this crisis which left me confused and challenged my morals. That was when I found out that societal morals may not necessarily align to the morals you're brought up with.

Early in the year, I told a friend about my religious predicament, not praying and all that. I was touched because HE CRIED. He said he didn't want me to go to hell. I've never even given a damn about myself and here is someone who cried about my potential afterlife. It got me thinking, but I didn't think about it much back then.

By the end of Form 2, I had the rebellious urge. It wasn't just some normal rebellious urge, I actually had the courage and craziness to be more vocal. Basically nothing much happened in terms of Religious crisis happened. But, in Form 4, Cikgu Mad had asked "Are you proud of being a Malay, if so, why?"

It got me thinking again. Obviously, when I first came to Faris, I had tried my best to resist Kelantanization, but to no avail, it stuck on, even now, and Kelantanese have proven to have the strongest nationalism spirit. hahaha. I did identify myself as a Malay, a Kelantanese Malay, yes, although my I/C stated my birthplace is in KL.

My perception of these religiously-upright people "softened" slightly as I see all these KISAS kids and SMAP Labu kids in English debate and they were REALLY good, which slammed my perception of "warak" people think English is evil and therefore incapable of English speech.

I entered a few essay competitions and read up about how the Malays have been progressing and I delved into political reading and I partly understand the nature of human beings,of politics, of character flaws, specifically in Malays and such. It made me hate certain qualities of being a Malay, but I came to terms with it, because my idol, Dr. M. was a Malay, and he has proven me wrong, unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the rest of my fellow Malays.

It just seems saddening to associate words such as subservient, close-mindedness, lemmings, laziness with my own race. It's typical stereotyping, but why do people stereotype in the first place? Because there is evidence that points that way. Okay, I think I've strayed from the actual topic of Religion, I got caught up in the chronology and how my thought process developed over the years.

In Form 4 and Form 5, I mostly complied to the religious teachings to stay out of trouble, but I still got myself into trouble, a different kind of trouble, but I will not elaborate.

---crap! I've spent hours on doing this post! I kept getting distracted by Facebook-----

Oh yeah, and due to my lack of "warak-ness", I am completely useless as authority in the masjid, i.e. to shut the kids up. I used to do all sorts of stuff as well in the masjid, but towards the end, I actually found peace in masjids, and I actually miss it now because I concentrate on my prayer better when I'm at the masjid.

Exit High School. Enter Taylor's College.

I think a lot about religion. About what's wrong what's right. What was taught. How I was brought up and how my environment was. My morals, my standings, the society.

I meet all sorts of people. During my school days, they seem to have drilled in my head that not covering your hair is wrong and girls who don't cover up are bad, go parties, has zero religious knowledge and sleep around. Then, it surprised me and returned me to my senses to NOT be judgmental of people. These girls are not all bad, not as what these people usually say.

I'm not being delusional here. People think that these chicks ditch the tudung because they don't want to. Actually they do want to put it on, but you know how when you have a crush on a guy but you just hold yourself back from saying "hi" to him? Okay, maybe thats not a good analogy, but there has to be a reason why they are holding back. Maybe it's the way they were brought up? Or the way they were approached when told to cover up? The thing is, there are many variables which you can't control, it's not one-dimensional, it's not as simple as she's not doing it because she doesn't want to. It's not as easy as that. You have to take into consideration of not only the environment, not only the upbringing, but you must also know that human beings have different thought processes.

I know I tend to generalize, but it's actually not as easy as that.

Then, there came the aurat debate, whether or not one should cover one's head. I was exposed to the different views of how religion can be interpreted. It opened my eyes to how myopic my interpretation of religion was in my school days, that I have obeyed for five whole years despite my upbringing. Not to say that all of it was bad, no, but I have assimilated it with my new findings and I filter it, taking in what I think feels right to my moral and fundamental understanding of my religion.

I was brought up in school that all these alim people's words were law, and those who go against it are like infidels, refusing to comply to religious obligations. And as I grew up, I lost my innocence, as explained in the previous post, not all values match up. Even those that appear to be "good" may not be good, and people are oblivious to this, because we are all so hell bent on following rules blindly without thinking whether it was right or wrong. I met many muslims with different standings on their religion and I finally get the chance to mix around with non-Malays.

So, anyway, to conclude (I have been spending two days on this post alone=.="), my stand on religion:

1. My first source is the Quran when it comes to interpreting commandments, then comes the sunnah. I demand the sunnahs are strong sunnahs.
2. I believe in rationalizing religious obligations based on the purpose of the obligation in the first place instead of merely "oh, because the Quran says so." In this way, I understand the reason why I'm doing all those religious obligations, instead of just blindly following it.
3. I see religion from its fundamentals instead of from one ulama's interpretation of it.
4. I believe that my religion is not restricting and flexible. Meaning, I can accept any interpretation of the religion as long as it does not stray from what is stated in the Quran or sunnah.
5. I definitely don't want to be one of those Muslim extremists.
6. I believe that God encourages us to question, even religion, so that we further explore religion in depth in order to reach a deeper understanding of the religion. So, that is why I love debates on religious issues.
7. I am interested in comparative religion and interfaith dialogues. I see it no harm to study other religions.
8. I approach a religious issue logically and from the perspective of the current situation we live in and compare it with what the Quran says, whether it is applicable or not.

oh, and regarding a few issues, these are my stand:

1. I'd prefer a girl who does not cover her head but dress decently instead of a girl who wears a head cover but I can trace out her shape.
2. I don't believe in conspiracy theories to fuel hate towards other people or other nations. Violence is never an answer (although I can be quite violent sometimes, but that's just my anger taking over).
3. "Tudung Rahib" or so they call it are okay as long as it covers what is needed to be covered.
4. Tudung labuh tu tak perlu if you already cover what is needed to be covered. If you nak pakai, ikut suka hati, but don't force me to wear it.
5. I don't believe in race or religion superiority.

I guess that's about it, I suppose, I'll just add on if I remember anymore. Facebook has disrupted my train of thoughts once again!

2 comments:

afiq kun said...

okay, this is interesting.

couldn't agree more with your last 5 points, tak suka marah-marah orang sebab ikut trend, sebab most of it based on niat, and niat tu benda yang kita tak leh nampak.

BTW semoga kita sama-sama berjaya mencari jawapan :)

dan oh, kenapa yang ni font kecik? tak nak bagi orang baca eh? jk hehe :P

Nana said...

"tak suka marah-marah orang sebab ikut trend, sebab most of it based on niat, and niat tu benda yang kita tak leh nampak. "

tak paham.

"kenapa yang ni font kecik? tak nak bagi orang baca eh? "

I copy pasted it from another place where I wrote this in, and malas tukar font.