Monday, August 5, 2013

An Open Letter: Ramadhan Greetings for the Bak Kut Teh Couple

Dear Alvin and Vivian,

I hope this letter finds you in the best of health. :)

I am a Muslim.
But I love eating bak kut teh myself, a dish which Mama used to cook up every once in a while for my family.

Provocative, eh? :D

But before an angry mob is whipped up by the above statement, with the purpose of lynching a bak kut teh-eating kid such as myself (and/or his Chinese mum) for "insulting Islam", let me first clarify:
It was more like chi kut teh than bah kut teh, since it had chicken in it instead of pork.

Duh. I am Muslim kot -.-

Maybe I should be careful, though, with the "B" word.
Since the "incident" which occurred in the past month involving the mild-mannered dish comprising of soy sauce, herbs, and coincidentally pork ribs, it seems a civil war can be started by just mentioning the name of "the-dish-which-must-not-be-named".

No surprise...we Malaysians are an infamously reactive people.
(This post itself is a reaction to the whole event. Lol -.-")

The real surprise, in my opinion, is that all this is happening in Ramadhan; a month of patience and forgiveness.
Or at least, that's what it's supposed to be.

*               *               *

Once upon a time, about 1400 years ago, a Bedouin man entered a mosque.
He found a corner and started urinating.
(Pretty provocative, I would say).

The companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the mosque were not very pleased, and quite understandably, not too far off from beating up the rogue tinkler.

But before chaos could ensue Muhammad told his companions to calm down and let the Bedouin finish his "business" in the corner.

*               *              *

Funny what qualifies as "insulting religion" nowadays.
An invite to buka puasa with "the-dish-which-must-not-be-named",
a video of a lady celebrating Raya with her dogs;
are so easily taken as insults to the faith.

Calls for the heads of errant bloggers come next.

*               *               *

After the Bedouin had fulfilled the call of nature at the corner of the mosque, he was called over by Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and was told:

"In these Mosques it is not right to do anything like urinating or defecating; 
they are only for remembering Allah, praying and reading Quran," 

Then Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) commanded a man who was there to bring a bucket of water and throw it over the urine, and he did so.


Which is why we Muslims follow the sunnah; take Muhammad as a role model. 
Not as a blind cult following; but as a rational guide to life.

Eh...a rational guide to life?

Then why did so many Muslims act in such irrational ways to the bak kut teh issue?

*               *               *

And therein lies the real problem.

For me, the question:
"why in the world would these bloggers post such a stupid thing in Ramadhan??"
has an obvious answer:
"they do not know".

Just like the way the Bedouin did not know enough about Islam when he "confused" the mosque for a toilet,
Alvin and Vivian do not know enough about Islam.

Admittedly, they must have already known the fact that the consumption of pork is prohibited for Muslims, but my guess is that they did not know enough of why;
such as why we can't eat pork, and
why the prohibition means so much to us.
Or, more fundemantally:

Why be Muslim?

And therein lies the problem.

Whose job was it to let Alvin and Vivian know the answers to the above questions?
Our schools?
The Internet?

The task falls on the shoulders of every able-bodied Muslim.

We pride ourselves on following the sunnah, but the biggest sunnah of all is dakwah. Calling people to Islam.
That was Muhammad's lifelong undertaking.

But we don't do enough dakwah, do we?
And suddenly we jump at the chance to punish people for not knowing enough about our way of life.

If you ask me, that is the real insult to Islam.

*               *               *

Dear Alvin and Vivian,

I will do the unthinkable here, and apologise.

No, I'm not apologising for the fact you got punished.
That is out of my jurisdiction.

But I apologise because the situation you find yourself in,
and the actions you took to get yourselves in that position,
are both proof.
Proof of how little you know of my way of life, my Deen.
Of Islam.

For if you knew, you wouldn't have done what you did.
Of that I am sure.

After Ramadhan and Eid, I am planning to learn how to cook a few dishes from my Mama...
it goes without saying that bak kut teh is one of them ;p

I understand, Alvin and Vivian, that the circumstances are not in the favor of us meeting up. 
But I would really love if we could an enjoy a bowl of bak kut teh together one day.

Oh, but it'll be pork-free though. 
Maybe while we eat, we can have a chat as to why that is so :)