Faithful to religion does not equal to extremism

Religious issues and beliefs has never stopped circulating our lives. Every decision in our life is guided by our religious beliefs, depending on how strong our faith is. Some people may have strong beliefs. Some are just moderate practitioners of their religion. Some might not belief in any religion or some are extremists.

For the past two weeks, religious issues arises again in the social media and in the news. Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, our Malaysian gymnast, had certainly made us proud by winning the gold medal through the women’s floor exercise routine. Young and talented, she made us stand tall in front of our neighbouring countries. But when photos of Farah was posted on the social media wearing the gymnast’s leotard, the so-called strong religious believers criticized her for wearing a revealing outfit.

“Until she’s dead too people can see the shape of her vagina and aurat,” a Facebook user, Muhammad Nur Salam commented.

Another Facebook user with the name of Amir Muhd wrote, “Just strip off your clothes lah… let everyone see.”

When most of the Malaysians are appreciating the beautiful routine performance of our young athlete, it is so sad that the first thing that these people with “strong religious faith” saw is her vagina.

We should ask these perverts whether are they really preaching what has been taught in their religion. I doubt any religion would have asked their faithful followers to look at people’s private parts.

In fact, all our Malaysian gymnasts are wearing the professional attire required for the competition.

Probably we should just force our Malaysian gymnasts to wear a ‘sarong’ like what
Facebook user Suzanna G L Tan was asked to wear in JPJ office.

As many would have known, Suzanna was instructed to wear a ‘sarong’ before entering the office due to her skirt which is just above the knees. While I agree that many public places including government offices should have guidelines for clothes and attire; those who have seen her photos on the Facebook believed what she was wearing is decent enough.

In a separate Facebook post, a man questioned Texas Chicken, a fast food chain outlet over the brand of it’s dipping sauce, “Church’s”.

He wrote on the social media, “Dear TCM … Please do explain your dipping sauce brand at Malaysia franchises … Most of ur customer is a Muslim … AND Muslim didn’t not eat food from church brands – feeling worried.”

Although there are mistakes in the English grammar, it is obvious that the man meant that Muslims does not eat foods from a church.

Little has been known that the brand name of “Church” has nothing to to with Christianity, but it happens to be the surname of Texas Chicken’s founder, George W. Church Sr.

Several months back in Taman Medan, a small group of Muslims has protested and demanded that the local church remove its cross from the building. The protesters claimed that the cross was a challenge to them and would sway the faith of youth in the area.

These group of people who see themselves as strong believers in their religion are creating unnecessary tensions in the social media. As much as I have learnt from my friends from other religion, be it Hinduism, Muslim or Sikh; it was never taught to them to be extreme.

Sometimes we just doubt whether do these critics really have strong faith in their own religion. Are they so weak that their faith can be easily influenced by a mere look at a name believed to be related to other religion, a professional gymnast wearing her leotard or simply by looking at the religious object of another? I believe it is all in our own mind.

My parents sent me to a church’s kindergarten when I was small. I was enrolled to a Methodist school since Standard One in S.K. Pykett Methodist up to Form Six in Methodist Boys’ School. In total, I have studied in a Christian-based education institution for 15 years. Although I may not be a perfect religious follower, but from the day I learnt how to pray to Buddha, I am still a Buddhist up until today.

Not any name, religious object or person can shatter one’s faith if it is strong enough. And by being strong to one’s faith, does not mean one has to be an extremist.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 19th JuneĀ 2015.

Never mix religion with politics

In the whole world, all religion including among the largest such as Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Jewish has never taught any of its people to kill nor to hurt. No matter how big a religion is or it may be superstitious, it is a set of beliefs and culture that humans look into as a principle or guidance towards life.

I am sure no one can find the origins of any religion is to attack and kill one another. We go to the temples, mosques, churches and other religious places to pray for humanity and peace. A very good case study is the recent Nepal earthquake where numerous people died and cities destroyed. Religious leaders, activists and people from all walks of life joined their hands together to pray for the dead and for the safety of the survivors. No one would have cursed or condemned these poor people in Nepal.

On the other hand, regrettably, we see extremists from the same religions that the world are practicing. These extremists manifests in all religions, the least as we have seen in the news, the major religions of the world.

We have seen the famous Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Christian terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan, Saffron terror of the Hindu nationalism and many more.

The most recent religious extremism has hit Southeast Asia when we heard of the Rohingya people trying to fled to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. It was in the news that some of the Buddhist leaders in Myanmar had instigated hatred and violence towards the Rohingya Muslims.

However, the discrimination of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar government and the Buddhist extremists is not something new.

It was widely known from the 969 Movement of Myanmar which is led by a Burmese Buddhist monk, Ashin Wirathu. Wirathu led a rally of monks in Mandalay in 2012 to promote the Myanmar President’s plan to send the Rohingya to a third country. It was also well known by the world that Wirathu has openly referred Muslims as the “enemy” and incites hatred of the people in the Rohingyas.

They may be various causes and factors to such hatred of each other in the country. But we must not let religious extremism to exists. As mentioned earlier, religion is where people look for guidance of principles in life. If these extremists religious leaders spreads such thoughts into the people, there will even be more killings of one another. It is even worse when religion is mixed with politics, which people may misuses religion to gain power.

Many of us Chinese in Malaysia are Buddhists, and I am sure that Malaysian Buddhists are all moderates as we have lived and prayed peacefully all this while. As part of one of the largest religion in the world, we must send a clear message to the extreme Buddhists no matter where they are, to stop inciting hatreds and more importantly, do not mix religion with politics.

I believe we would have such credibility to advise the world as we have lived together with Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and many other different religions.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 5th JuneĀ 2015.