Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sacrificial ritual begs respect | Free Malaysia Today

Sacrificial ritual begs respect

Jeswan Kaur | October 31, 2013 
 
The issue is not that the non-Muslims are against the practice of Hari Raya Korban; the problem is when discretion is thrown out of the window in the excitement over the korban.
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We are a nation divided, mostly owing to the unscrupulous politicians and bigots who never tire of instigating Malaysians of different faiths.

With the country now split between ‘what’s right’ and ‘what’s wrong’, harmony and unity between the people have become endangered, making it impossible to bridge the racial gap that threatens to drown Malaysia’s cherished asset – her diversity.

While the nation suffers an ‘identity crisis’ due to the never-ending racial slurs and ‘misrepresentation’, chaos over respect for the respective faiths continues to reverberate.

Barely two weeks after the Court of Appeal dismissed the Catholic Church’s fight over the use of the word ‘Allah’ in its weekly publication, a new racial row has erupted.

This time, the issue revolves around the Hari Raya Korban/Hari Raya Aidiladha/ Hari Raya Haji slaughtering of cows, a practice which in this country is done in full view of the public, in any space available.

To say that the ‘open air’ ritual leaves many people aghast is an understatement. The situation is made worse when the television stations showcase the slaughtering process time and again.

This year’s Hari Raya Korban turned controversial when several non-Muslim parents took umbrage over the slaughtering of cows in schools in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

The parents complained that sacrificing cattle in schools was an insensitive move and inappropriate to schoolchildren.

This well-meaning concern however did not sit well with the Malay zealots of this country, who then raised the issue of the Hindus’s carrying the kavadi openly during the Thaipusam festival.

Unlike the killing of cows, the kavadis or decorated carriers are not brandished just about any place the devotee pleases. Still, attacking one another’s faiths and demeaning cultures simply to prove a point leaves the country in a very vulnerable position.

Scary revelations

When Deputy Education Minister (II) P Kamalanathan said the Education Ministry has never allowed the slaughter of cows in schools, why did the truth upset Malay supremacist group Perkasa?

Perkasa Youth chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris via his blog unleashed his anger and launched a personal attack on Kamalanathan.

“The parliamentarian P Kamalanathan’s statement that the korban ceremony cannot be carried out in schools is an act that insults the Malays and all Muslims,” Irwan wrote.

It is worrying to note the myopic approach groups like Perkasa continue to use in defending Islam and Malays.

How is stating a fact downgrading the country’s official religion or hurting the sensitivities of Muslims?
Going by the conundrum that as erupted as a result of the cow-slaughtering in school, it brings to light some very frightening revelations:

Does a dominant race have the exclusivity to do as they please, wherever and whenever, even if there is no authorisation to do so?

Why was the deputy education minister’s statement viewed as a threat by defenders of the Islam like Perkasa, to the point that it threatened to turn the tables against Kamalanathan in the 14th general election?

Was butchering cows in places of learning a ‘wholesome’ affair?

Did Perkasa forget about the sentiments of the young non-Malay pupils who would have been terrified watching the butchering of these animals?

Sacrificial ritual begs respect

Muslims take the Hari Raya Korban very seriously; and they should, going by the message that the day brings.

But what is both an irony and a paradox is that this very act of remembering the willingness of prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his young first-born son Ismail as an act of submission to Allah’s command and the young boy’s acceptance to being sacrificed is now being turned into a ‘temasya’ or a state sanctioned ‘fun fair’ with tents pitched at the least decent of places to carry out the slaughterings.

The issue is not that the non-Muslims are against the practice of Hari Raya Korban; the problem is when discretion is thrown out of the window in the excitement over the korban (sacrifice).

To justify putting the cows down on school grounds as a way of educating Muslim students as was done by a BN MP was the worst insult to a sane person’s intelligence.

Shabudin Yahaya (BN-Tasek Gelugor) desperately tried to outdo Kamalanathan and portrayed the slaughter as a practical lesson for the Islamic Studies subject.

“The cow slaughtering is not a regular slaughter, it is part of the (school’s) subject and korban is in the Islamic studies subject taught in schools as part of Fiqh (jurisprudence).

“It is a practical lessons on how to properly conduct a slaughter and it should be done,” said Shabudin.
In this regard, does Jakim or the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia not have any ‘enlightening’ words to share?

Trying to take digs at the other races is not going to soothe the country’s fuming racial fires. Nor is scaring children through the butchering of cows in broad daylight going to make them empathise with what Hari Raya Korban is all about.

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.

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