Monday, June 26, 2006

The meaning of love Part II

I used to think that there exists "The One" for me. Someone out there who is perfectly compatible with me, our characteristics match and where my weakness is his strength.

Statistically, there should be such a person. Assume half the world population is male (3 billion). Further assume that 4% of that are gay (not 10%, which most people tend to wrongly quote from the Kinsey report), which means 120 million people.

Thus, the chances of me finding him is 1 in 120 million. Which is almost equivalent to a big fat zero. Also, there are so many variables, like he should be born geographically near me and not in an Eskimo tribe, he ought to be born in the same generation as I am and not 50 years earlier or later, etc.

Not to be cynical, but being practical, the way to solve this would be to make someone the one. This is something we can do, we can control, and not leave it in the hands of fate or coincidence.

As such, when Harvey asked me whether I am sure about my feelings for CF, I could only say, "I am happy when I am with him now. I love him and want to make him happy. The only thing that I am sure is my feelings for him NOW."

I believe in making the person I am in a relationship is, "The One".

Before that, he enquired about my first love. Which, even though I have had two relationships, I wouldn't call them relationships now, as they weren't what I would call as such in my definition. Or even love.

As I said earlier, I was probably in love with the notion of love itself. I wanted everything about love which I have seen in movies - stuttering words, weak knees, electrifying gaze and 200 heartbeats per minute.

Don't mean to disappoint you guys who still have that idea, but in reality, it was never like that for me.

Or maybe it's just me.

Harvey was a little erm ... persistent with his questioning. "How can you not be sure? Previously, you weren't sure with your earlier relationships, but even the current one you aren't sure?"

Nothing is certain. Only the present is.

I would like to have more certainty too, but CF is going to Canada for at least three years. Three years is a long time.

Though I must admit that Harvey's sister's experience with long-term relationship, whereby they managed to stay together after three years apart, was encouraging.

If CF were to have finished his degree currently, I could be fairly more certain of us and our future.

Not that I don't have faith in us or him, but in this case, I think only time can tell.

In addition, CF shares the same opinion. The present is the only certainty. Of course, he really hopes that we will still be together after he graduates.

And so do I.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


I met my second Malaysian blogger, Harvey, today. When I found out that he is going to be here, the first thing I thought of doing was to bring him to watch C.R.A.Z.Y with me.

As it is, I couldn't find anyone to watch the movie with. I can't possibly ask my straight colleagues to go with me and some of the bloggers have already watched it last week.

Before that, I have gone online to check out the movie and it has received good reviews at IMDB and here. It was even named best Canadian feature film at the Toronto International Film Festival.

So my expectations were raised. And I was not disappointed. Warning: There are some spoilers ahead.

C.R.A.Z.Y tells the story of a boy named Zac Beaulieu (who was damn cute as a seven year old and even yummier when he grew up) who was borned on Christmas in 1960. He was the fourth of five boys and his Dad seemed to love him more than Zac's other brothers, as Dad would bring him to eat some special french fries.

His older brothers could be packed into neatly boxes - eldest Christian was a bookworm / nerd, second one Raymond was into drugs and sex and Antoine was the jock / sportsman.

Zac didn't fit into any of these. In addition, he has a gift of healing people, especially burns. He also shared an emotional psychic connection with his Mom.

Things between the Dad and son turned sour when the Dad found him wearing a robe and some of his Mom's jewelry.

I found this to be a little stereotypical because gay men are just gay and most of them don't want to wear women's dresses. I don't deny the fact that there are gays who are like that, but definitely not many.

Probably I am being nitpicky, because how else is the Dad going to find out about Zac's orientation when he's only seven? There were some earlier signs like Zac wanting a tram for a toy and him holding a billowing tissue from the car's window.

From then on, small things like Zac getting into a fight would be viewed approvingly, as it is considered manly. And this was how the Dad consoled himself, or rather choose to deny the truth.

As Zac felt that he has lost that special relationship with his Dad because of his sexuality, he prayed every night to Jesus that he might be cured. "Please don't let me be ... "

When he was fifteen, he liked his cousin, Brigitte. It wasn't clear whether he really liked her because he really did or felt that he should like someone without a penis. Zac got jealous whenever Brigitte's boyfriend was around.

There was a schoolmate, Michelle, who liked him but Zac would not allow things to go further, because "it might ruin our friendship". But out of a need to redeem himself in his father's eyes, to meet his Dad's expectations, he finally went out with Michelle.

Things between father and son seemed to have returned to normal, till Dad saw Zac with a guy coming back home.

When questioned, Zac denied anything happened. But the Dad refused to believe him.

Thre was this scene in the bathroom, between the two parents which I found hilarious.

Dad: It can't be right for someone to want to stick his pecker into another's ass.
Mom: You seemed to have a short memory.
Dad: Well, maybe once.
Dad: Twice? But who's counting?
Mom: More than twice. And I should know as I am counting.

Predictably, he was sent to a psychiatrist. And this was where Zac demonstrated how he himself has internalised homophobia. Dialogue taken from IMDB.

Zac: Do I look like a fag? Do I talk with a lisp? Strut like a peacock?
Shrink: Nice idea of homosexuals you've got there. They're not all like that.
Zac: They all become that way. Sooner of later.
Zac: This is a waste of time. I'm not a fag. I'd rather die. [looking at the shrink, uncomfortable]
Zac: It's just a fugure of speech. Isn't it obvious? Being happy and healthy, or miserable and fucked-up. It's a no-brainer.

Which I feel clearly showed that being gay is NOT a choice.

There was another time, when Zac was 20 and he was seen by someone to be kissing Michelle's boyfriend. The truth was he did not; they were doing something called the shotgun, where a cigarette is inverted in a person's mouth and the other person inhale the smoke produced, which of course has to be done with both lips almost touching.

Dad: Be a man for once in your life and tell the truth!
Zac: What do you want to hear? That I'm gay?! A fag?! That I suck cock?! Yes something happened but not with him. You know with who. Nothing happened earlier (which referred to the incident that got him sent to the psychiatrist). But I would've fucking loved it if something had! Fucking right!

Sometimes, a person can only see thing one way and couldn't believe otherwise, even when the truth is staring right at him.

Overall, I find the movie to be excellent. The acting, storyline and soundtrack were superb.

However the direction is less than tight. At more than two hours, some of the things could have been taken out. All is forgiven as the lead actor is pretty cute, so the length just provides more time to do look at his handsomely boysih face. ;P

For myself, I don't quite relate to the film. For one, I have no intention of impressing my Dad by proving that I am masculine. Perhaps because we didn't really have that special bond to begin with.

Or that the stage of denial and making myself change seemed so distant now. Aargh! But I am not that old what ...

Secondly, the religious theme is a bit too strong for me. As Zac shared the same birthday with Christ, quite a few things were put to faith to change. Like how Zac would equate surviving walking home in heavy snow would mean him overcoming his asthma. And like how he tried to do the same thing with walking across the desert to overcome his homosexuality and almost died as a result.

Other than that, I would say that the movie portrayed the issue of coming out and coming to terms with one's sexuality as best as it can. It is even funny at times, like the situations that Zac got himself into. The struggle, the uncertainty, the need to be accepted by parents and peers, the need to fit in, etc were accurately and ably carried out.

Oh, and I definitely love the songs in the movie. Even the French ones.

"I want to be like everyone else."

"Thank God you never will."

Harvey liked the film a lot, as he said he could relate to it. Probably he would blog about it too.

As a reviewer said in a free Singaporean daily,
Nevertheless, the mainstream movie deserves praise for tackling the stubborn persistence of homophobia in a so-called liberal society. It's just unfortunate that such an old storyline remains relevant today.

Ultimately, it's no one's fault if a son or daughter is gay. The Dad would usually not know how to deal with it (a boy should be like a boy; there's no two ways about it); the son or daughter would have a difficult time to deal with and the Mom would be stuck in-between.

I leave you with the theme song of the movie, Crazy by Cline Patsy, which was also the Zac's dad favourite song.

Crazy, I'm crazy for feeling so lonely
I'm crazy, crazy for feeling so blue
I knew you'd love me as long as you wanted
And then someday you'd leave me for somebody new
Worry, why do I let myself worry?
Wond'ring what in the world did I do?
Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you
I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying
And I'm crazy for loving you
Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you
I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying
And I'm crazy for loving you.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Eye candy

Last Saturday was my company's Family Day. It was held at Sentosa. We were divided into a few teams and had to move from one place to place to play games with health-related themes. For example, we had to match food with the amount of fat they contain, eat so-called scary and horrible but yet healthy food like bitter gourd, etc.

Basically easy stuff. Have to skip a bit, jump a little, run for a while. ;P

Anyway, that was not the point of this post. What I wanted to share is that out of the seven tasks we had to do, my team missed out one. As in, we didn't even go to that station at all, where we were supposed to get wet either by playing frisbee (I have no idea how) or kayaking.

A bit unlucky, as that station was manned by two guys. Cute ones, I might add. All the other stations were manned (womanned?) by girls.

Needless to say, I only found out about this after the whole thing was over.

We gathered after that and while waiting for the results to be announced, we had lunch. I went to the bathroom to well ... use the bathroom and who should I see?

Yup, the two of them. One was tall, about six feet, with glasses but he doesn't have the nerdy look. The other one was shorter but still quite good-looking.

To me, the taller one was cuter. And he was shirtless. ;P

They were both talking and I was washing my hands at the basin, I could see them in the mirror which was in front of me.

I was thinking of staying longer so that I might drool at admire his nice and well-defined body. No other way but to strike up a conversation.

"Hmmm, so the two of you were in charge of the kayaking task? My team missed out on that ler."

"Yeah, we were. How come you missed it? It was very fun .... "

"Yeah, too bad. So how come you're taking shower here? May I join? Aren't you going home after this?"

"No, we are going out somewhere."

So far, it was the cuter one who has been talking. Not sure whether they are gay or better still a couple, as they do make quite a cute pair but it didn't matter.

The point was that I got to stare admire longer.

I went home pretty tired and with a little something which I won during the lucky draw.

That was indeed a memorable day.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The meaning of love Part I

Most people would say that love is a feeling. But feeling changes, it’s ephemeral. One day I can be really happy and up-and-about and the next I could have wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

The feeling of love makes me feel like doing mushy and romantic stuff. Nevertheless, the act of love or a loving gesture, even without the feeling of love, can induce the loving feeling.


For example, even when I am feeling upset, I would still show concern and care for my partner. I would still hug him, touch him, ask how his day was, even when I don’t feel like talking or am too tired.

Without realizing it, the feeling of love would come. Which explains why love can be nurtured. And also arranged marriages.

Not that I am a proponent of the latter.

I am one who is expressive and don’t see the point of keeping my feelings in a bottle. We’re humans after all and we’re creatures of emotions, not a piece of brick. Obviously, this would mean that people can read my emotions well, especially if I like someone a lot.

Call me a romantic or what, but I do believe that love can makes me want to do great things, impossible things, silly things. It energises me and gives me strength. Listening to my partner’s voice makes me feel good and warm inside. It elicits the desire to make him happy and contented always.

This is my style of love. I believe in living and loving passionately. Which of course would entail painful heartbreaks as well if things don’t work out. I realized it’s a little reckless, but still ….

I trust him completely. Someone said that love is like giving one’s heart to another and trusting that he won’t break it.

For me, I don’t see the point of loving another if I still want to hold back a part of myself.

True, it may be wiser to hold back something, just in case the other person does break my heart, to lessen the pain if it were to happen, but then, isn’t life about living fully?

In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage. - Robert Anderson

A marriage without conflicts is almost as inconceivable as a nation without crises. - Andre' Maurois

“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. – Tolstoy

Maybe I expect too much. Maybe I should lower my expecations, for the sake of us.

P/S Just want to write down my thoughts and feelings. Don't worry, both of us are OK. ;P

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Coming out anniversary

I’ve never been that close to my family. Probably of the wall I have erected around myself about being gay, a part of me which is shielded from them to avoid confrontations and conflict. It’s like living a double life.

It’s still difficult to open up now, not for lack of trying but of habit. Just when I thought that things would improve as she knows of my relationship, I had to move here to Singapore to work.

Last Sunday was the anniversary of my coming out to my Mom. She knows what am I doing now and who am I dating.

That doesn’t mean that she approves though. When I was back in KL over the weekend, there was something that happened between CF and I which made me really unhappy. Mom being Mom, she knew what I was feeling even though I tried to act as normal as I could.

Or maybe I was trying hard enough. I looked distracted most of the time.

She thought that CF and I had broken up or something like that. She consoled me by saying in Chinese “loh tak hei yew fong tak tai”; that I should learn to let go and move on.

Well, that sounded like the right thing to say if I had broken up right? But then she went on to say that why don’t I try dating the opposite sex and who knows, I might have feelings for them.

Not again.

It was a strange coincidence that exactly one year later from my coming out, she should say something like that. I am not saying that I am blaming her for not accepting yet, but I am still hoping that she will soon.

Obviously, she only has my interest at heart and should things in life don't turn out well, I know I have her on my side always.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

There are bad news and good news

Sorry for the lack of postings.

Anyway, these articles leave me speechless. I really wonder which planet did the Perak Mufti come from? He is also the person who last year suggested that HIV positive people be sent to an island to live as not to infect others.

Articles have been edited for brevity.

Tuesday, 13 June
Mufti: Beware of pluralism and liberalism

IPOH: Elements of liberalism and pluralism have crept into the thinking of some so-called Muslim intellectuals, and this could affect the Muslim lifestyle, said Perak Mufti Datuk Harussani Zakaria.

He said discussions on polygamy, the faraidh system, revision of the Quran, setting up of an Inter-Faith Commission and abolishment of Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, were getting louder as more Malaysians were embracing liberalism and pluralism.

“If left unchecked, liberalism and pluralism will be difficult to control,” he said in his keynote speech Purifying Islam from Liberalism and Pluralism at the Ulama Convention 2006 here yesterday.

Harussani said Muslims, whether policymakers or ordinary people, should know that liberalism and pluralism were alien to the fundamentals of Islam.

“The intellectuals and leaders must be aware of the threats to Islam posed by these elements,” he added.

He proposed that Islamic countries set up a body to monitor the influence of Western thinking and culture.

I have no idea how pluralism is an alien concept to Islam. Didn’t Muslims and non-Muslims live peacefully and harmoniously together in Madinah, where the Prophet set up his base?

As defined by Wikipedia, but taken from this blog, religious pluralism is a loosely defined term concerning peaceful relations between different religions, and is also used in a number of related ways:
► as a synonym for religious relativism; that one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and that some level of truth and value exists in at least some other religions.
► as a synonym for ecumenism. At a minimum, ecumenism is the promotion of unity, co-operation, or improved understanding between different denominations within the same religion, or sometimes between different religions.
► as a synonym for religious tolerance, which is a condition of harmonious co-existence between adherents of different religions or religious denominations.

More outrageous words from him.

Wednesday, 14 June
Ulamas want kongsi raya celebrations reviewed

IPOH: Ulamas attending a conference here want several practices such as the “kongsi raya” celebrations and open houses reviewed to ensure that they do not contradict Islamic laws.

Ulama Conference 2006 working committee chairman Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria said this was necessary because the National Fatwa Committee had decided that celebrating the festivals of other religions could erode the faith of Muslims and could lead to blasphemy.

Harussani, who is also the Perak Mufti, said the resolutions passed included asking all state Fatwa Councils to set up their respective action committee specifically to respond to views put forward by practitioners of liberalism and pluralism, which attack the faith of Muslims.

The Government was also urged to set up a monitoring body made up of academicians and ulamas to stop the spread of liberal Islamic thinking, especially through the Internet.

“I’m also made to understand that followers of liberal Islamic thinking are waiting for this resolution so that they can draw up a new strategy to counter it,” said Harussani.

Good thing he’s not someone really powerful. At least I don’t think so. Be that as it may, surely there would be some people who would be influenced by what this ulama said.

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt - Mark Twain

I end with a positive article.

Salib Dan Patung Hindu Dalam Masjid Amalan Biasa?
04 Jun, 2006 21:05 PM

BANTUL (Yogyakarta), 4 Jun (Bernama) -- Pasukan Bulan Sabit Merah Malaysia (PBSM) yang ke sini dalam misi membantu mangsa gempa bumi terkejut bila melihat kewujudan salib dan patung Hindu dalam sebuah masjid ketika hendak menunai solat zohor di sebuah perkampungan dekat sini hari ini.

Seorang anggota pasukan PBSM, Jeffrey Hassan berkata setelah pasukannya memberi bantuan rawatan kepada mangsa-mangsa di perkampungan Gepoko, mereka bersiap-siap untuk melakukan solat zohor.

"Saya bertanyakan orang kampung di mana letaknya masjid dan mereka menunjukkan arahnya.

"Tapi, alangkah terkejutnya kami, sebaik masuk ke masjid kami lihat sebuah salib, lambang penganut Kristian, dan patung Hindu di dalamnya," kata Jeffrey.

"Kami tak jadi solat, lalu bertanyakan orang kampung bagaimana perkara sedemikian boleh terjadi," katanya.

"Itu biasa aja. Sememangnya telah lama kami lakukan begitu. Kami di sini berkongsi melakukan ibadat dalam satu masjid," kata seorang penduduk.

"Pada hari Jumaat masjid itu digunakan oleh orang Islam, Ahad oleh orang Kristian dan Selasa untuk orang Hindu," katanya. --BERNAMA

Basically the article says that some of my fellow countrymen, who were looking for place to pray, were extremely shocked to find a cross and a statue of a Hindu deity in a mosque in Yogyakarta.

When they asked the locals, they replied that it's a very normal practice since ages ago. On Fridays, the mosque is used by Muslims for prayers; on Sundays it is used by Christians and on Tuesdays by the Hindus.

How's that for pluralism! That is definitely not going to happen in Malaysia anytime soon.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Changing the Muslim mindset

I find the article below extremely enlightening. I know that Malaysia is conservative, but I didn't know that the other Islamic countries are that progressive.

The article is below. The cached link is here.

Changing the Muslim mindset
19 May 2006
Zainah Anwar

IN a seminal speech on Islam Hadhari and women's rights at the Women's Institute of Management last year, the Prime Minister said the biggest stumbling block to women's progress and development in the area of rights and equality relates to mindsets and attitudes towards women.

To an audience of high- achieving women, he admitted that there were "elements within our society who are uncomfortable with the advancement of women. They try to obstruct the progress of women through barriers and strictures legitimised in the name of religion or culture."

In making a plea for ijtihad (reinterpretation), he stated that "the problems confronting contemporary Muslim societies today are not the problems of the sixth century, and the solutions do not lie with the notion of a Syariah purportedly final and complete 1,400 years ago, particularly in the case of women".

"The notion that the Islamic concept of law is absolute and hence immutable has resulted in intellectual inertia among some scholars, noticeably on the subject of women and, sadly, in a continued injustice towards them.

"When the history of the 21st century is recorded," he said, "let Malaysia be mentioned in the context of not only progress and achievement for the country but also the advancement, empowerment and emancipation of women."

We in the women's movement could not have asked for a stronger, clearer policy statement from the Prime Minister. The challenge remains in how we translate these words into deeds. This is a tall order for Malaysia.

The statement last week by the Mufti of Johor, Datuk Noh Gadut, that it is forbidden for Muslim men to be house-husbands is a reflection of the mindset the Prime Minister was talking about.

Changing realities stare us in the face and our religious leaders and Islamist ideologues are stuck in an understanding of gender roles and Islamic knowledge constructed within the social context of the mediaeval age. They do a disservice to Muslims and the country.

Many Muslim scholars, whether from this region or from the Middle East or South Asia, are puzzled how Malaysia could be so modern and progressive in many ways when the many Muslims they meet at academic meetings and international conferences are so conservative the ologically and ideologically.

For those who admire Malaysia's success story, the absence of academic rigour and the dogmatism displayed are painful and embarrassing. They are beginning to question the international assumption that Malaysia is indeed the model progressive Muslim country it is touted to be. At the economic development level, yes, they say, but at the Islamic scholarship and ideological level, it is a perilous no.

A member of a team of Islamic officials sent by the Government to visit several Arab countries to look at their laws on apostasy said he was surprised to find the ulama there far more enlightened than ours, and that not a single country he visited prescribed the death penalty for apostasy.

He said every single Arab scholar he met was unequivocal about the Quranic injunction that there can be no compulsion in religion. A personal change of faith does not merit any form of state punishment.

Dr Hiba Rauf, the well- known Islamist woman leader from Egypt, asked me at a meeting in Cairo two years ago why Malaysian students at al-Azhar University were so closed-minded.

She was surprised as she had thought Malaysia was modern and progressive.

This same observation was made by an Indonesian activist who studied at al-Azhar. He said every single Malaysian student he met there, "down to the last 8,000th", was "ultra-conservative".

He took it as a personal challenge to engage with them, spending hours in long debates on women's rights, democracy, human rights, differences of opinion, all using arguments drawn from Islam's rich theological and juristic heritage.

Some of them, he said, did change their opinions, or were at least willing to debate and think more critically on these issues.

He observed that the closed- mindedness of the Malaysian students was not so much ideological but largely because they were exposed only to conservative traditionalist thinking in Islam.

He said they had never read the more enlightened works of Islamic scholars, from the classical period, let alone contemporary times, that he had been exposed to as a student of Islam in a Nahdlatul Ulama pesantren and later at the State Islamic University in Jakarta.

The students' mindset, he said, made them easy targets for recruitment into Pas and Islamist movements pushing for the supremacy of Syariah rule.

While the Islamic institutes in Indonesia are already producing the second generation of enlightened progressive scholars, policymakers and activists who are challenging and resisting demands for a hardline understanding of Islam and calls for an Islamic state and Syariah rule by newly established militant and conservative Islamist groups, Malaysia is hard-pressed to find such progressive individuals educated within our Islamic education system.

The failure of the Government's Islamisation project to produce enlightened thinkers and activists, or Islamic laws and policies is largely due to the absence of the intellectual capital needed to spearhead the agenda.

In pushing his Islam Hadhari project, a modern and progressive Islam, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must search for the enlightened software — the first- class mindset — that is so necessary to drive the change.

In the wrong hands, his Islam Hadhari agenda — just as with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's Islamisation policy — could be hijacked by the Maududi and Syed Qutb ideologues and the traditionalist ulama who still dominate the Islamic establishment here.

There are lessons to be learnt from Indonesia and Morocco, in education reform, and from Iran, where an Islamic revolution has failed to deliver on its promises of justice, freedom and prosperity.

So too from among the many Islamic scholars who have been forced to live in exile in the West because their lives were endangered and their houses firebombed by fellow Muslims back home.

Many of these scholars are now at the forefront of the new Islamic scholarship emerging in the last 15 years or so, generating new possibilities of meaning in our engagement with the Text and the Tradition in the light of the realities of our lives today, the circumstances we live in, and the challenges we face.

In Indonesia, besides the abundance of progressive scholarship by their own thinkers, new writings by Muslim scholars in English, French, Arabic and Persian, are translated into Bahasa Indonesia within months of publication.

They are consumed voraciously by students, scholars and activists, huddled together in numerous "diskusi" (discussion) groups on campuses, in pesantren and in the community.

The writings of feminist Islamic scholars such as Amina Wadud, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Asma Barlas, Leila Ahmad, Fatima Mernissi and Riffat Hassan, and even Sisters in Islam's letters-to-the-editor and Question and Answer booklets are among student reading materials in courses on Islam and gender, contemporary Islamic thought, Islamic jurisprudence and Quranic Interpretation.

Gender studies are integrated into every discipline.

The Gender Studies Centre in the Islamic universities in Jakarta and Yogyakarta train teaching staff and students in gender and Islam.

The undergraduate and graduate programmes offer courses in Gender and Theology, Gender and Islamic Jurisprudence, Family and Gender in Religious Perspective.

A new Master's programme in Gender and Religion has been introduced at the State Islamic University in Jakarta.

In courses taught by these progressive scholars, a diversity of opinions from a diversity of sources and periods are studied and debated.

Students are taught to understand critically and analytically the methodology and processes of textual and legal interpretation within historical and contemporary social and legal contexts.

Law is not taught as dogma, but as socially constructed within particular times and circumstances.

The source may be divine, but the knowledge produced is a human construct to serve the cause of justice of that period.

None of the Islamic studies or Islamic law faculties in Malaysia comes close to this pedagogy, even in offering a basic course on Contemporary Islamic Thought.

This is not surprising.

An ideological battle is taking place between those who demand an Islamic state asserting different rights for men and women, for Muslims and non-Muslims and those who believe in a democratic state with equal rights, fundamental liberties and justice for all, and who celebrate the blessings of this multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.

Where Islamic studies in Malaysia is concerned, the Islamic state ideologues are in control.

At the street level, the mob rule displayed in Penang last Sunday took this ideological battle to another level.

The police, in asking law-abiding citizens engaged in a rational and peaceful discussion on constitutional matters to consider aborting their meeting, set a dangerous precedent. Those who threatened peace and public order were allowed to prevail over those who believe in dialogue and the Constitution.

Go read the comments by some Malaysians here, where they said that the author should start wearing a headscarf first before telling others to change and think.

For example, someone said that "She can't even bring herself to cover her own aurat, yet she has the cheek to be a self-proclaimed defender of Islam. At least wear the tudung first, then speak out all you want Zainah."

Why should a person's choice to cover up or not even matter, when she is making a lot of sense and merely reporting what is happening in other parts of the world? Does not wearing the scarf make her statements less true?

Our Malaysian society is obsessed with physical appearances. They really believe that the clothes make the man.

It's only true to a certain extent.

Someone wearing a kopiah is deemed religious, even though he could be buying the lottery every week. A Muslim woman is considered religious if she covers her aurat, even though she might be cheating on her husband.

I believe that what a person does and how he acts, as more important.

In fact, even actions can be misleading. What if someone won a tender to build a mosque, but the tender was gotten by giving some extra money?

The point being that nothing is ever black and white. The fixation on clothes is a feeble attempt of someone who doesn't want to know deeper, who doesn't want to make an effort to know the other person better, who just takes things at face value.

Basically, someone who doesn't think for himself. Believing in things just because everyone thinks so or because he has been told as such.

Women covered head to toe = good and pious. Women wearing mini-skirts = bad and promiscuous.

Life is not that simple. It never is.

In addition, I have always believe that things that need defending means that it is weak in the first place. Like masculinity 1 2

With all the things that have been happening in Malaysia, from Moorthy's case to the cancelled forum in Penang, things does not look too good, especially for non-Muslims.