Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Malay Culture and Islamic way of Life, synonymous?

I know the title of that post and the question posed in it is rhetorical, well at least for me it is but heck, I am going to say something about this anyway.

When Bonda went on vaccay in Sabah 3 weeks ago, she was having a conversation with a friend of hers regarding family, when her friend went out and stated that my family is unlike any Malay family she has ever encountered, and then she said the unthinkable.... she said that my family was 'Westernised'. Gasp, Shiver and Cringe!!! Unlike some of you blokes out there, I am NOT at all flattered  and/or proud to be mentioned in the same phrase as 'West' and/or 'Westernised' and do not like to be equated or tied with the Western world, continent, hemisphere (whatever). Instead I feel  offended rather.

You know why I was so exasperated to hear that? Because this is NOT the first time I have heard our family being labeled as that phrase which I 'shall not repeat again'. And my family had this discussion in a meeting, we actually wondered why such a label has been tied to us?

We analysed our lifestyle and principles and come to a conclusion that while our family may not be a typically 'Malay' family, we were definitely NOT westernised. Ohhh, and by the way, having a slightly better than average command of the English language does NOT in any way make anybody Westernised ok? It just means that you have good English that's all.

Now moving on, we analysed the dynamics of our family and tried to see whether what we practise is a Western trait or is a trait which is practised elsewhere.

Family Practise 1 - If you are wrong, then you are WRONG, regardless of your age, position or seniority and you can expect me to point it out so that you can apologise, fix the wrong and won't repeat the mistake

Malay Culture - I am the Boss, the older one, the more senior one and therefore I am ALWAYS right, and even if I am wrong, you shouldn't say anything to point it out because I am the boss, the older one or the more senior one. If you say something, you are being rude

The question is, is this practise a Western practise? I do not think so. Whilst it is definitely not a Malay practise, this is what our prophet s.a.w says on the matter:-

"(Rasulullah SAW bersabda : Barangsiapa dikalangan kamu melihat kemungkaran maka cegahlah dengan tangannya/kuasanya(jika dia seorang pemimpin )Jika tidak dapat cegahlah dengan lidahnya/perkataannya,jika tidak dapat cegahlah dengan hatinya.Maka sesungguhnya mencegah dengan hati adalah selemah-lemah iman….(au kama Qal)"
So with respect, I say that what my family has been practising all these years is an Islamic principle and not a Western one and clearly not a MALAY one. I mean logically also right, how the heck are we going to improve for the better and realise our mistakes if no one points it out to us? 

Atuk and Nenda points my mistakes and Bonda's mistakes out all the time, but it is not a one way street in our family. God no. There have been times where Bonda and I criticise Atuk and Nenda in the way they do things when we think they are not right. Because that is what we have been thought to do. To point out a wrong and an injustice without fear or favour. To bring it out in the open so we can be better people and improve ourselves. What I don't understand is why criticism to let's say someone in a higher position and/or older and/or more senior is always seen as a sign of disrespect?

When Bonda or I criticise Atuk or Nenda, it does not mean that we disrespect them or love them less, it just means we think they are wrong and we disagree. We can move on, stop the wrong, correct it and do not repeat it again. Is that not what the prophet has said above? I rest my case on this. On to the next one.

Family Practise 2 - We have a problem, let's have a meeting, discuss it, come to a conclusion together and move forward

Malay Culture - What problem? We don't have a problem! Let's just sweep it all under the carpet, pretend nothing's wrong and go on our merry way!

Again, is this a Western trait? Well, it definitely isn't a Malay one I tell you that. How do I know? Let's just say through personal experience. Sigh. What does Islam say about having meetings in order to solve problems?:-

فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ
“Oleh itu maafkanlah mereka (mengenai kesalahan yang mereka lakukan terhadapmu), dan pohonkanlah ampun bagi mereka, dan juga bermesyuaratlah dengan mereka dalam urusan (peperangan dan hal-hal keduniaan) itu”. (Surah Ali-Imran 3:159)

وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورَى بَيْنَهُمْ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ
“Dan urusan mereka dijalankan secara bermesyuarat sesama mereka”.
(Surah asy-Syuura 32:38)

“Kemudian jika keduanya (suami isteri mahu menghentikan penyusuan itu Dengan persetujuan (yang telah dicapai oleh) mereka sesudah berunding, maka mereka berdua tidaklah salah (melakukannya)”.
(Surah al-Baqarah 2:233)

Our prophet s.a.w also advocates meeting, openly discussing and reaching a conclusion on issues:-
by Ali bin Abi Talib RA:
مشاورة أهل الرأي ثم اتباعهم
“(Apabila) ahli syura bermesyuarat (dalam suatu perkara), ikutlah (pandangan dari) mereka”.

So, again this is not a Western trait but rather an Islamic one. What a misconception do you not think so?

I end this post by saying it is obvious to me that the Malay culture which we are so used to practising may perhaps not be very Islamic at all, but are perceived to be so (on what grounds, I fail to understand!).

And for those who think that we are a 'westernised' family, we must respectfully state that we disagree with you. 

Errr, but Nenda does have an affinity and craving for 'baked potatoes', Atuk surely misses the good ol' days in the UK where we lived for so long, I have a penchant for RPG games and Bonda does have an affinity towards soap operas, but that should not count I say! hehe.

Hope you readers have a good week ahead.

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