Embracing the Evil: Puritans, basking in their morality

Shia, the second largest Muslim community in the world, are being ostracised in Malaysia. Oppressed despite the constitutional right for freedom of faith, they are unable to openly practise their religion due to the blinding fury of Melayu Shafi'i Muslims in Malaysia. Stigma bred to break the Shia.

Institutionalised prejudice against those seen as "deviants" seem to be in the fashion nowadays, with heavy doses of hate speech about the so-called villainous perverted nature of the Shia.

I arrived at a small village, off the dusty roads from Sungai Pelek in the state of Selangor. I've been here, many times before, whether for outreach in rural Malaysia, or simply when the need to travel consumed my common sense.

Kamaruddin, a young man with wide rough hands and broad shoulders, smokes a kretek while toying with his car key. An anxious twitch on his jaw, as we sat opposite of the shared table. This 25 year old Malaysian of Javanese bloodline is an amateur at political analysis when not working at the imposing palm oil plantation. He's been working as a labourer for the past 4 years, and is looking forward to his engagement in a few months.

I've traded some stories of my travels in Phnom Penh and Maha Sarakham with him. Now it was his turn, though not disappointed that he chose a prejudice-filled topic: demonising the ‎Shia.

"Abang Zash, they're evil. You know they (Shia) don't believe in Prophet Muhammad." he said, a dramatic start intended to impress, somewhat.

"They told you ke?" I asked, curious why he came to that conclusion.

"No." he said, flatly. "But this what Ustaz (religious scholar) said. He will never lie to us."

"Surely you can't depend on the word of one man." I argued. "And what happened to the freedom of religion?"

"Malaysia is ours. It always has. Orang kita (our people) must protect our race (the Melayu). Our land. Everything is on us to defend." Kamaruddin said. "Islam, our sect, is the purest. And we know what the Shia did in the past. They are brutal. Violent."

I chuckled, not even concerned whether my response would insult his sensibility. Malaysia is my country too, and I fear no mortal that walks upon this realm.

"You speak of hate, Kamaruddin. Isn't that dosa (sin)?" I asked, clearly amused at his behaviour. "Don't you feel any guilt for making statements that go against your faith as a Muslim?"

He stood up, the plastic blue chair toppled and fell to the floor. ‎Anger, that flash of indignation in his eyes. How amusing that Malaysians nowadays have no patience when confronted with their hypocrisy. I sat, continue smoking my kretek, partly curious on his next course of action. He, like many Melayu nationalists, are self-absorbed with race-based fantasy and that usually leaves them proned to violent swings of erratic behaviour.

"Kurang ajar." he said to me, and walks away almost forgetting to take his Proton car key. "Kurang ajar‎" means lack of education, and usually a preliminary bark to encourage a confrontation. He disappears around the corner of the coffee shop, with his legs angrily taking him away.

Chuckling to myself, I was secretly hoping for a confrontation, as I do specialise in the art of subduing bullies, but then again, I've yet nowadays to find a man who's willing to go berserk all for the sake of Melayu nationalistic pride.‎ This sense of patriotism leaves many lecturing others for the sake of subjugation.

Hours later, after speaking to other Malaysians, I discovered that for the past few months the anti-Shia campaign has gone deep into the psyche of the Melayu. All of a sudden, it's treason against the Melayu institution if one has a different view of "sensitive" situations, whether on religion or race. 

Showing empathy towards the Malaysian Shia or respecting their views are seen as contradiction towards the institutionalised hate-the-Shia campaigns. Am I supposed to hate the Shia simply because someone or society instructs me so? Should I bow to conformity and be a slave like the rest, waiting for the master to throw dog bones at my bowed head?

A 37-year old woman told me that the Shia are deceptive and unashamedly love polygamy. According to her, a Shia wife will be rewarded with an "umbrella of gold in heaven" if she supports her husband's intent to have a second wife. Aaahh, more lies fed into the propaganda machinery, clearly the institution of Melayu Supremacy is infecting the already vulnerable minds of the Melayu. 

At this point, seems some are willing to believe anything their ultra nationalistic leader or right-wing religious scholar say about the Shia. After all, almost everyone is already in the bandwagon of hate, them thinking why not just join the spite-filled trendy masses.

Societal obedience is expected by the institution, this pillar of unquestionable authority. The Melayu, whether rural or urban, seems vulnerable to the puritanical mindset and the expectation of purging those who adopt a different view of life and faith. Seems Melayu nationalists are busy fueling the insecurity of the "supreme race" towards the furtherance of their own foul intentions.

What are we to expect then? Should we anticipate an aggressive witch-hunt ‎to demonise the Shia and force their kind to leave their own country? Or maybe nationalists prefer forcing them into "rehabilitation centres" so they can be convinced of their wrongdoings? What, no beheadings, whippings and concentration camps on a grand scale?

This unstable version of Shafi'i seems to be dogmatic; individuals leading with prejudice in their hearts, and clearly deviating from Islam's Pillars of Faith (Iman).

No, I'm not a saint, and I'm no messiah from the Melayu heaven. I embrace and sincerely show empathy, however when all-consuming hate emerges and bullies a marginalized community, then I will do what must be done, willingly, that is to bring about awareness of not virtues but senses forgotten by the masses, be it compassion, acceptance or forgiveness.

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