Wan Nor says: It has been years since some of us have checked out. Perhaps more than a decade. Yet, we wait in line for the gates to open and finally let us through. Yesterday, the postman brought a letter. It was signed Indira. Who is she? She sent us words of love and compassion. She sent us words of strength and hope. Who is she?
You, the so called learned religious leaders, were given the chance to do good. Yet, you took each chance, every opportunity, and turned it into a force of evil. We wanted to include you into the progressive fabric of this multi-racial, multi-religious country. We accommodated your limitations. We offered you a dignified pathway to self-development and social status. We empowered you.
And what did you do to us? You set up your own legal system, a system that clearly conflicts with our Federal Constitution, selectively enforcing your man-made rules onto us, locking us into a sect that we never asked to be part of. Here we are, locked up, waiting for the gates to open.
Do you remember me? I’m Baby Bint Abdullah. My parents were in love. They couldn’t contain their passion for each other; I was conceived, a love child. Then the nightmare started for them. Papa wanted to declare his mistake and make it right. But he was hounded by you. You chased him down and humiliated him and mama. You denied my right to carry Papa’s name. You tattooed a life-long stigma across my forehead. It could have been different; you could have practiced dignity, but you chose to disgrace!
Do you remember me? I’m Shukur. You told us that it was compulsory for a Muslim to be circumcised. At the age of five, I lost the tip of my penis to the holy knife. You said it was God’s will. You said not to take action. Your ritual has left me less a man. With no other options, I chose to live a life of celibacy. Each year, I read my story in the newspapers. Each year I have a different name. It could have been different; in the age of science and medical discovery, you could have told us the truth that it is not written in the divine book, that this was merely a ritual.
Do you remember me? I’m Ravi Abdullah. I divorced my Hindu wife. I was afraid to lose my children because I am without income, and without a home. You advised me to convert to Islam, and to convert my children behind their mother’s back. I’m now a fugitive, on the run. My children hate me. It could have been different; you could have practiced family honour and compassion, but you chose force, deception and cold-heartedness.
Do you remember me? I’m Pak Kaseem. I’m no longer in the world. I’m with the hundreds of children that got burnt, the children that you used to make money off. I have found peace, after a life long struggle to fight persecution and cruelty. What were you afraid of? I was an old man seeking the truth. I was a man in search of freedom to uphold the truth. Did you really need all those officers? Did you really need all that might, to hold my fragile bones down? It could have been different; you could have chosen communication and understanding, but you chose to shut down my voice, you chose intolerance.
Do you remember me? I’m Madam Chee, mother to Chee Abdullah who died in an accident. I gave birth to him. His name was Simon. My late husband, and his late father built an empire, a great business that sustained our family in joy, wealth and spiritual balance. My late husband left everything to Simon not knowing that Simon would soon pass in an accident with his wife, my daughter-in-law. Upon their death, your falcons swept in and denied my rights and my grand children’s rights to his fortune. You said it was Islamic Law. You gave it all away to people who are undeserving and have never done a thing in support of my son and his wife. I’m 83, and I work at the canteen for a living. It could have been different; you could have chosen justice and to uphold the rights of decent people, but you chose injustice and you denied us our rights. All in the name of your religion.
Do you remember me? I’m Nur. I was raped at the age of thirteen. You forced me to marry the man who raped me. It was to save the face of our family and our religion. Well, today I don’t believe that there is a god, I am what you would call an atheist. What god would put a child through this torture? What god would offer a child a loveless life of endless beatings? They say that if I were to take my life, I would end up in hell. I am already in hell. You put me here. It could have been different; you could have chosen proper medical and psychological attention for me, after the rape, but you chose further brutality.
Do you remember us? We are Mr and Mrs Muhammad. You banged on our hotel door at 3.00 a.m. Your officers forced their way into our room, whilst I was still in bed clad in nearly nothing. You hit my husband then took photos of me while you forced me to dress in front of your people, video cameras rolling. I’m traumatised with daily visions of the men who insulted my modesty. I’m devastated to be constantly reminded that indecent photos and videos of me are out there somewhere. It could have been different; you could have chosen proper enforcement against real crime, but you chose to satisfy your sexual voyeur needs, and intimidate and harass innocent couples.
Do you remember me? I’m Ahmat. I’m dead. I hung myself. I couldn’t recover from the mental disorder after I was raped and sodomised by my teacher who taught me to recite those verses. It was too much for me to bare. After my death, they covered up the crime, and they made me an example of fire wood that would forever burn in hell. Well guess what, upon my death, the universe embraced me. I’m not in hell. But I miss Mummy and Daddy. It could have been different; you could have chosen spiritual enlightenment, but you chose propagation of chronic ignorance by religious teachers who are unqualified and have no ethics or morality.
Do you remember us? We are your victims!
Yes, you locked us into a sect that we never asked to be part of. Your sect practices a religion that we can’t recognise. You have invaded our society with your version of Islamisation that has nothing to do with Islam; you have invaded our space calling yourselves Muslims, yet, you haven’t a clue what being muslim is about.
You could have made Islam in Malaysia a dignified, mind-opening, spiritual journey.You had the chance to uplift, yet you chose to oppress and suppress through chronic ignorance and fear. You have breached universal laws of human dignity.
We were never part of your sect. Yet, here we are locked up. Millions of us, who do not belong to your sect, who do not share your oppressive, ignorant ways. We do not and have never professed your religion. If you do not unlock the door, we will burn it down. You can’t keep us prisoners anymore. Here we are, locked up, knowing that the gates are about to open. You wasted your chance! Your time is up!
Indira, we don’t know who you are, but we thank you for your letter of hope and strength and compassion and perseverance. Thank you! God bless you and your children. Once the gates are open, and we are free, let’s have a barbeque party.
Disclaimer: The stories in this article are fictional.
(The views expressed are those of the contributor)
NB: Pics are from stock archives
Wan Nor writes under the byline, “Hard Questions By Wan Nor”.
Wan Nor, PhD, scientist, born and raised in Britain. Through her deep sense of commitment to Malaysia, she seeks workable solutions in this climate of uncertainty and, at times, hopelessness.
For her full profile, please see this link.