Some people claim that being a Muslim is hard, but they are wrong. If you are Malay and Muslim, and live in Malaysia, you do not need to think, as your life has been charted for you. The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and Umno Baru have mapped it for you, with the help of the Ministry of Dress, the Ministry of Thought, the Ministry of Speech, the Ministry of Morals and the Ministry of Sex.
In fact, the government has a plan for you, right down to your supermarket trolley. Having the correct, colour-coded ‘halal’ trolley will ensure that your shopping is not contaminated, even though haram items like pork are in cans, and whisky is in a bottle.
When your mother was admitted to hospital, she had to fill out a form to state her religion. As soon as you were born, your birth certificate indicated your religion. There is no need to fuss over which religion to choose. It has been decided for you.
Nowadays, Malays would have to wear special modesty pants when giving birth. They were especially designed to hinder the woman, the baby and the midwife. A fine piece of engineering from Jakim.
In the exceptional case of being born to non-Muslim parents, all it takes for you to become Muslim, is for one parent to convert, and he converts you, too. In Malaysia, the convert parent always â€˜winsâ€™ in a child custody case.
When you go to school, you attend agama classes, whilst your non-Muslim friends have moral lessons. Your mother keeps complaining about a neighbourâ€™s son; â€œHeâ€™s brilliant at reciting the Quran, at such a young age, but he is a devil incarnate, and could do with a dose of moral education.â€
Very pushy Muslim parents want their child to be assured of his rightful place in Heaven, and will arrange religious classes after school. In the olden days, the ustaz came to the house to teach the fundamentals. Today, courses at â€˜properâ€™ establishments may cost a few thousand ringgits, per year.
When you reach the age of puberty, you will be circumcised. You should be thankful that these days, a doctor takes care of the snipping, and not a half-blind, elderly friend of a relative, who uses a blunt razor.
You take up rugby, to appear more manly. You hate contact sports, but adopt this game because your effeminate cousin, who lives in Terengganu was sent to boot camp where his â€˜girly tendenciesâ€™ were beaten out of him.
You are now a teenager. Your whole life has been spent playing with boys. You wonder why you blush and your heart beats faster when you encounter pretty girls at school. When the one you fancy brushes past you in a corridor, and your arms accidentally touch, you refuse to wash your arm for days. The contact sent electric shocks down your spine. The poor Malay girl wonders if she will become pregnant.
Choices in life are easy
If you are a Malay girl, the choices in life are easy. You cannot enter beauty contests, or do gymnastics. You cannot wear swimsuits. You cannot hold hands, or sit beside your boy-friend, in aÂ ‘couple-seat’ or â€˜love-seatâ€™ in a cinema. You can wear the tudung with tight jeans and a figure hugging top. No-one minds, as long as your hair is covered.
You want to have â€˜funâ€™ with your girl-friend, but you canâ€™t afford a five-star hotel, so you book yourself into a â€˜rumah tumpanganâ€™. You fear a â€˜Jakim raidâ€™ so you canâ€™t perform.
Frustrated, you decide to go for a romantic drive, and if you suffer from â€˜kereta rosakâ€™ you donâ€™t have to call the local automobile association (AA), because Jakim will turn up uninvited. Theyâ€™ll give you a lift to the nearest lock-up and three choices; you marry the girl, or pay a fine and be jailed, or endure six months of religious indoctrination, and wear white robes, whilst â€˜theyâ€™ knock some religious sense into you.
Fast forward to when you want to marry. You must attend a marriage course and pray you are selected for the one held in France. Men hear weird stories about being told how to hit their wives, where it does not show. If you are a woman, you are told the 50 ways to satisfy your husband.
You set up home, and hope you are not transferred to Terengganu, where the MB wants wives to produce at least 12 children. If you were to miss Friday prayers, you would be paraded through town, in a hearse.
You have the seven-year-itch and plan to remarry, and you know your wife will object. It is no hassle. You nip across the border to southern Thailand. They are very liberal there.
You are now elderly, obese and suffering from double-incontinence. Your fourth wife often goes clubbing, or shopping, and does nothing to alleviate your pain. She was only interested in acquiring a â€˜rumah bangloâ€™, credit card and â€˜sebiji kereta sportâ€™.
Dejected, you shuffle off to your first wife, so she can care for you, dish out your 23 pills per day, and make sure you are pampered, and properly fed.
(True tales compiled from the lives of various Malay Muslims.)
Photo credits: Malaysiakini