Holier than thou?

NOV 7 — Do people, i.e. Muslim Malaysians, remind each other of their obligations every second of the day?I don’t know if it’s me but lately the conversations I have with fellow Muslims have become miniature usrahs. My Facebook statuses on quotes by non-Muslims have been marked as too Westernised. Why post Socrates’s thoughts, or even Oprah’s, when Islam is more than enough?  I just like these quotes, I say when I’m asked.

A true Muslim will only post Islamic quotes. Our religion is enough, you don’t need to go far.


Allow me to give you two more examples of how preachy we have become.

I was invited to a kenduri recently, and had brought a book along with me, titled Folklore of the Holy Land: Muslim, Christian and Jewish, by JE Hanauer, and published by Islamic Book Trust (IBT). I bring a book everywhere I go, which is why my handbag weighs a tonne!

You wouldn’t believe the flap over the book.

“Oh you can’t show that to the kids.”

“What? I can’t?”

“Well (patient eyelash fluttering), I mean (pause), is that book halal? Does it have Islamic teachings?”

The men interjected. You know, the Malay lelaki saviour thing.

“Well it did say folklore… folklore means a myth kan Dina?”

The female mullahs glared at me and spoke very patiently to their dunderhead spouses.

“We have to be careful you know. Muslims are under threat these days and we want to impart the right kind of knowledge to our children.”

“Marmaduke Pickthall edited the book,” I said.

“And it’s published by IBT, so how haram can it be?”


My younger sister is a recent hijabi (though this fact has nothing to do with this article at all) and studies linguistics and languages. Recently, she found herself in a rather interesting situation. It was a discussion on Islam, but the conversation went south. She contacted me early in the morning to ask what to do with these people. 

“You know kan sometimes plugs don’t connect with sockets kan?” I said. “Basically, those people karan (current) tak masuk. Kepala fius.

“But this is crazy. Islam is very intelligent. Why are there Muslims like this?”

“I told you. FIUS. You better don’t deal with these mullahs again.”

Finally this.

A group of friends and I were talking about stress management tips. Someone suggested breathing techniques.

A person piped up. Tak payah nak gi jauh-jauh, Islam pun ada deep breathing. Zikir je ni, bila in-breathe, Allah…. Bila out breathe, kata Hu. Tak payah nak yoga-yoga!(There’s also deep breathing in Islam. Zikir and recite Allah when you breathe in, and Hu, when you breathe out.)

Now, I do this type of breathing. It is Sufistic in nature and very calming.

Still, since when has deep breathing become religious propaganda?

We have become religious class monitors constantly needing to remind every Tom, Dick and Harry of our duties and faith.  We seem to be incapable of having a general conversation about sex, food, books, cars, health without invoking god.

I do agree that we need reminders on how to behave and act. This goes for everyone, theists or atheists. But can I have a normal conversation about books, food, sex and what not without being lectured?

Social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, have become platforms to show off how pious we are. It’s a constant one-up manship show. You know selfies? Now we have people in their telekungs taking selfies in mosques.

Maybe it’s a generational trend – this is how the younger set promote

their obedience, but I was brought up by parents who taught me that (1)

when it came to charity, the right hand should not know what the left

hand did and vice versa and (2) your religious acts are unseen. It’s between you and Allah.

So seeing people celebrating their first day wearing the hijab is very odd for me. Soon we’ll have hijab showers. Now I know coming from someone whose hair resembles a nuclear fall out, this is pretty rich and a bit too much, but I do need to know: is this a trend I am missing out, or am I just an old fusspot?

When a photo of a follower on Instagram showed how she performed ablutions, I gave up. 

There’s only so much narcissism one can take, and a religious one is way over my head. Honey, you need a shrink. May I introduce you to my good friend, Irma?

There are Muslim spiritual leaders who utilise social media very well, such as Mufti Ismail Menk and Tariq Ramadan. Sadly, most of their followers pale in comparison. I see calls to rise against the non-Muslims, written in rather pompous but badly written English. Even statuses in Malay are not immune. But on social media, everyone is a star.

But this is what I do for work: observing my fellow brethren. I’m trying to formulate my own theories on this phenomenon and for now, I am stumped.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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