As most of you are aware of, each time we talk about Islam and ‘Muslim’ in Malaysia, it’ll definitely be associated with MALAY. What’s up with that? I find this particular formula, Islam=Malays, is not accurate at all. Just because the majority of people who profess this particular faith in Malaysia are Malays, does this means that the rest of the people who shares the same faith but do not share the same skin colours are not Muslim and should be brushed off rudely away without considering their feelings?
I have friends who came from China. They came down to Malaysia for holiday and look typically Chinese, with small eyes, flat nose and very fair skin. And yeah, you guessed it right, they are Muslim, not by embracing the faith when they’re a grown adult to get married or anything, but they are Muslim by birth. They belong to a family that had already profess the faith for a few generation, which means, they’re raised as a Muslim, and practices whatever the religion taught them to do. Which means, they too, pray five times a day, fast during Ramadan and every now and then, will go to mosque to perform the prayers. And yeah, like the ‘Malays’ they can’t take alcohol and definitely cannot eat pork too. Basically, they’re no difference from any other Muslims in Malaysia, except maybe for their physical appearance.
I feel that it’s very hard to play hostess for these friends, not because they are being difficult and demand a lot of me and my family, but because the Malay Muslims as well as the non-Muslim in Malaysia tend to stereotype and consider these people as non-Muslim. Honestly, this kind of stereotyping kinda embarrassed me.
When they give ‘salam’ (religious greetings) to the Malays, they would get awful glares from the Malays. And instead of answering their religious greetings there’ll be a question instead. And usually it’ll be, ” Are you a Malay or Chinese.” and without fail, these friends would tell people that they are Chinese, and again, they will be asked why the hell are they giving religious greetings when they are Chinese. And without failed, they would irritate and agitate me to no end.
Why? Because these people are stereotyping the Chinese as non-Muslim! Duh, excuse me, must you be a Malay to be a Muslim? Is it written somewhere in the Quran that you must be a Malay in order to profess Islam that I don’t know of? I even hear complaints from these friends that when they go to the mosque to perform tarawikh (a special prayer during Ramadan nights), they’re given strange glares and some even have the cheek to ask if they’re ‘Malay’. Eh? I must be missing something here. If you’re not a Malay then you cannot enter the mosque to pray? What the hell is this?
Same goes to the non-Muslim. Every now and then, my friends would be asked why they cannot take beer or why they refused to eat the pork meat that had been placed in front of them. When they inform people that they are Muslim, they’ll get strange look or one of those “Eh, you’re not Malay, right?” speech in return.
Then there’s halal Chinese food issue. Coming from China, most of these friends could not really adapt to Malaysian food yet, and so, they had requested me to bring them to Chinese-Muslim food centre. It was just a simple request, but I was actually aghast with their request, because I came to realize that I do not know any Chinese-Muslim food centre or any restaurant that serve certified halal Chinese food. I know there’s some halal Chinese food restaurant, but there’s too few of them, and definitely not in my area. If there’s a restaurant that are serving Chinese food, commonly it won’t be halal because there will be pork or lard in it.
I apologized to these friends, and suggest to them that they will have to settle for a Chinese vegetarian food restaurant if they don’t want to eat the spicy Malay food. They gladly accepted my suggestion, but I really feel bad for them, because they are Muslim too, but generally, the people and the environment in Malaysia is not so Non-Malay Muslim friendly. 🙁
Playing hostess for these friends for a few days really is challenging, and it really hits me that the lives of the non-Malays who converts into Islam is not so easy too. Every now and then, they’ll miss the food that they used to eat too, and imagine how they feel when they can’t eat the food that they used to eat just because they can’t find any halal restaurant that served the food that they used to eat. And to make things worst, the Malays and non-Malays don’t make their daily lives easier too because of the typical ‘Muslim must be Malay’ stereotyping attitude.
It irks me to see each time the leaders talk about about Islam, there’ll always be MALAY MALAY MALAY in their goddamn speech. What’s up with that? Are they blind or too ignorant that they do not realize that there are non-Malays who are Muslims too? There are a lot of converts who are Chinese, Indians and some belongs to other ethnicity that I doubt I can pronounce the word properly. Why is it when they talk about the rights as Muslims, they will automatically just talk about the rights of ‘Malays’?
I really would like to tell off the leaders and whoever talk about being a Muslim MUST be Malay. Shut your fucking mouth up and stop making Malaysians think that there’s only Malay Muslim out there! It’s because of you bastards that the citizens have the stereotyping attitude and make Malaysia a not so friendly environment to the Muslims who are not Malays, as well as the converts who are trying hard to adapt to an Islamic life!
Cleffairy: Tell me that everyone who goes to Mecca to perform ‘Haj’ are all Malays, then I’ll stop bitching about this bloody issue.