Living a ‘pure’ life

OCTOBER 21 — It’s not because I’m suffering from aquaphobia that resulted in me shelving the idea of spending a nice holiday on a few beaches that are still in excellent condition on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. 

Don’t get me wrong; I like water. But the recent concerns about impurities that were expressed in the public domain by certain preachers — who seemed to be very knowledgeable about what they’re saying — prompted me to thoroughly rethink about my plan to lepak on the sun-kissed beaches and to take a dip in the deep blue sea. 

Just imagine the horror of horrors that would have overwhelmed me if I swam even in a tiny portion of the vast sea called the South China Sea, which, I’m sure, contains all sorts of impurities and filth that would drench my poor Muslim soul silly. 

The effluents from the sewage system from the south-eastern plank of the Chinese mainland, for instance, would surely have been engulfed by the undercurrents of the South China Sea only to be spewed elsewhere along the coastline of the eastern part of peninsular Malaysia. 

Come to think of it, there might be a conspiracy to surreptitiously divert all the filth into our area of the South China Sea as part of a bigger geopolitical agenda of the mainland Chinese under the guise of their well-known “one belt one road” philosophy. This despite the seemingly cordial relationship between the leaders of the two countries. 

That said, heaven forbid that I accidentally gulp the contaminated Chinese sea water while struggling to re-align my green-coloured sarong against the strong undercurrent. 

It would definitely take a longer time for me to cleanse myself if I were to still insist on taking a swim. This is especially so what with my long, unkempt hair flowing recklessly over my mucky shoulder, which is the dire consequence of not being able to detect and engage a Muslim barber in town. 

Incidentally, Hindu barbers seem to have the knack for snipping away what God has planned and planted on the scalp. 

You may rightly be wondering why I don’t venture to swim anywhere conducive along the Malaysian coast of the Straits of Melaka given that my present abode is on this side of the peninsula. It’s historical, really. 

There’s too much bloodshed, and many infidels must have died in the rough sea during those olden days of Portuguese, Dutch and British conquests. Their sordid remains would surely have polluted in many ways the sea across the straits to render it haram to swim in. 

To be sure, this dark patch of the national history, disturbing as it has always been, is etched deeply in my memory. 

By the way, don’t get me started on the choppy Indian Ocean. 

This also explains why I’m very particular about eating fish and other forms of seafood these days. Which is why I’d unequivocally covet that famous Jamal’s ikan bakar, which is surely halal, any time of the day — especially if it’s free of charge. 

Besides, it is highly unlikely that Jamal would use any Hindu-owned and produced curry powder for cooking knowing fully well how sensitive, nay livid, he can be about all things haram

Even on land we have to be careful. Other foodstuff such as dairy products also require the keen attention of God-fearing Muslims. Milk, for example, needs close scrutiny for its halal-ness: whose big udder does it flow from? Is it that of a cow owned by a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian or a Bahai? 

If eventually it has been established that the cow indeed belongs to a Muslim, another question however has yet to be addressed: does it belong to a Sunni, a Shiah or a liberal Muslim, never mind other sects in Islam? But, then, that sectarian quarrel can wait lest the milk curdles. 

At the risk of sounding racist, any form of physical contact with non-Malays (and also non-Muslims) can be cumbersome and problematic nowadays. This is well exemplified by a simple visit to a dentist. 

Believe you me, the pain of having to surrender your mouth to a stranger, especially a non-Muslim, is as excruciating as having your big canine tooth removed. 

Although the gentle hands of the dentist are well covered by tight gloves, you can never tell where they’ve been prior to the after-lunch appointment. 

This is not to mention the many instruments used in the intrusive procedure. Even the paper cup can be a subject of nagging suspicion of it being reused by other patients. 

Against this backdrop, I can now fully understand why the haste — unfairly regarded by some detractors as indecent — by certain Malay-Muslim women to offer dental services and perform like a dentist even if it means acquiring the vital knowledge and skills via YouTube. Indeed, these concerned women very well knew the urgent needs of the Malay-Muslim community — and so did a politician or two. 

It thus stands to reason that given the uncertainty — and impurities — of life, one is tempted to firmly cling to every word uttered by the impeccable preachers in our restless desire for moral guidance and soul-saving for now and hereafter. 

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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