Yoga Threat To Muslims In Malaysia

About a year ago, a manager in a Malaysian Islamic insurance company sent out an e-mail to all staff saying that it is haram to wish Hindu friends a Happy Deepavali (Diwali) because it is akin to promoting the religion.

That was being said by a manager. The above title was said by someone with some authority.

The above title is actually the heading from the Calgary Harald, a newspaper in Canada, and you can read about it here HERE.

I don’t know which part of Yoga that damages the faith of Muslims. I would love for someone to clarify this to me, and to millions of muslims worldwide who still go to the mosque, perform their daily prayers, after their yoga sessions.

Anyway, although I have gone for Yoga classes, I know nuts about Yoga. But I can tell you a few things. Firstly, I felt far better healthwise after attending some sessions, sex is always greater, and no Hindu mantras were being recited then. I know the Lord’s Prayer (Church of England version), I know the Litania Sanctorum of the Roman Catholic Church (although not all parts), I know the Jewish version of the arabic Alhamdulillahirrabbil ‘alamin (Blessed are you God, Lord of the Universe) which is Baruch hata adonai elo henu malech ha-olam. I also know by heart the Hindu Ganesha Vedic Shloka.

So what does that make me? A Christian, or a Jew, or a Hindu?

Being a muslim means upholding the 5 pillars of Islam. They are:

1) Profession of Faith (2 Kalimah Syahadah),
2) Pray at 5 prayer times a day,
3) Fasting a month during the month of Ramadhan,
4) Pay a tithe on property (Zakat),
5) Perform the Haj once in a lifetime if it can be afforded.

The root pillar is the Profession of Faith – that is to bear witness that there is no other god but Allah (which is also arabic for The God); and bear witness that Muhammad is His Messenger. If a muslim holds on to this root pillar, no one can say otherwise about him/her. If he/she does not perform the other four, then it is between him/her and God. If he/she drinks beer, it is between him/her and God. But to me, going back to basics, for as long as he/she continues to profess the Syahadah, he/she is a Muslim.

Going back to this Yoga issue, to me, it is a petty issue. But labeling Yoga as haram without much thought and research being put into it (much like the Tomboy issue I wrote about earlier), wil only produce negative results and a minus point for Islam. Islam will continue to be labeled as a restrictive, regressive and totally unfriendly religion.

Wait a minute? Isn’t Islam supposed to be THE way of life? The kind of life that ALL human beings would want to live by? Well, only if we go according to the al-Quran. However, the Islam that can be seen now is far from what the Quran teaches.

So, they say it is haram because of certain mantras (which I have yet to find). Silat, the malay martial arts, kicks off with mantras, invoking the spirits of certain people for strength and guidance during fights. How Islamic is that, seeking help from ungodly spirits? Isn’t that syirik (blashemy)? So, why isn’t silat haram? I am pretty sure, like Kung Fu, it originated from the Indian subcontinent as well, and was brought about during the Srivijaya era. Other malay traditions that originate from Hinduism include the bersanding where the bride and groom sit on the bridal throne; and, lighting up of oil lamps during the final days of the month of Ramadhan. These should be banned too.

While killing one’s self is also haram, no fatwa was ever made by the Ulamas (I shall come to the meaning of this word soon) on cigarette-smoking, although it has been scientifically and statistically proven worldwide as one of the causes of cancer. There are verses in the Quran to support the banning (declaration of haram) on smoking, such as:

“…he [the Prophet] commands them what is just, and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good, and prohibits them from what is bad…” (Surah al-Ar’af 7:157)

“…make not your own hands contribute to your destruction…” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:195); “…nor kill yourselves…” (Surah al-Nisaa 4:29)

Even Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said: “Whomsoever drinks poison, thereby killing himself, will sip this poison forever and ever in the fire of Jahannam (Hell).”

3 million people worldwide die from smoking-related illnesses, yet there is no unanimous fatwa on smoking. Is it because there are cigarette smokers amongst their (Ulama) ranks?

The best is of course, the issue of the favourite malay dessert called Tapai. It is actually rice fermented with yeast in the same way people ferment barley with yeast to make beer. The Tapai has between 5% to 11% (if fermented longer) alcohol content, whereas beer has between 3% to 4.8% alcohol content. Yet, there is NO fatwa whatsoever on tapai. One may argue that you can hardly get drunk eating tapai, but that is because after eating one or two, you’d feel full, and can hardly finish up more than 2 packets in one sitting. So, with such high alcohol content, why isn’t the tapai declared as haram?

It is all because the religious authorities will have trouble explaining to the masses about their dependence on tobacco and tapai that is in fact haram.

People do Yoga because of the good it brings. The form of Yoga that is being taught to the masses now is purely physical, spiritual only in the sense of serenity it brings after. One of the argumment against Yoga is why do Muslims seek serenity using Yoga while Islam provides serenity in the form of prayers? I know answering a question with a question is crap, but let me just ask this: if praying calms the mind and destresses the person, why is there a need for mosque committee members or mosque office-bearers, or people from the religious authority bodies need to smoke cigarette? Shouldn’t they be praying instead?

Let me also tell you about the time when the monastery at Saint Catherine was under the protection of the Muslim government centered in Madinah. Before the Romans came to attack, Muhammad (pbuh) forbade his men from taking revenge on the Christians at Saint Catherine, to help the injured, to repair/rebuild the damage monastery, should it get damaged.

Wait, was Muhammad Muslim or Christian? Did his men declare him an apostate? Did his men declare each other apostates for assisting in the reconstruction and repairs of the monastery?


Everyone knows how snake venom can kill or maim a human being. But if extracted and processed carefully, the snake venom can become an antivenin. Like Yoga, when derived properly, actually helps people. Unless you subscribe to this, you should stay away from expectorants.

So, leave the Yoga people alone. As long as they know whom to pray to, and who is the Messenger assigned to them, their Aqidah (faith) remains solid.

And the word Ulama, is the prural form for the word ‘Alim, meaning the knowledgable person. The root word is ‘Ilmu which means knowledge. Ulama are supposed to master around seven subjects including theology, physics, alchemy, astronomy, geography etc. However, the Ulama we have now know nothing. And all they ever do is to continue putting Islam in a further bad light.

Being Whacked On The Bed By Gong Li

I went out for ikan bakar with Wifey for lunch, before going for a haircut…or, more like cutting what’s left of my hair. I have been having this bad backache for weeks now, enduring the torture for as long as I could. Since I could no longer sit for more than 10 minutes without having to readjust the comfort level, I decided it was best for me to seek help at the usual traditional chinese sinsei outlet.

The last time I was there was more than 3 months ago. Wifey had to sit and wait while I got my back massaged. It was only for an hour then, but due to the gravity of my ache, the sinsei decided to poke me with acupuncture needles, and before I even knew it, I had more steely needles poked into me than a Hindu man would have during a kavadi-carrying session on Thaipusam day.

I arrived there shortly before 4.30pm, the time of my appointment. I quickly went up, and met the manager, who asked me the nature of my ache. In a mixture of very-halting Mandarin and English, I tried as best to explain what I was suffering from. So, a masseur sinsei was appointed to handle my case. She was this blonde chinese woman, in hot pants and white blouse, all smiles when she saw me. Well, if she was Gong Li, I would smile back, except that she’s not – she’s more like a Gong than anything else, and a huge one at that.

I hopped onto the massage bed. She scanned my back to find out the source of the backache – and it was actually the neck, and by the spine. She quickly went to work. All 100-kilos of mainland lard was transferred onto the small of the elbow while she tortured every acupressure points on my neck, shoulders, back, butt and the back of my legs. I found myself struggling to: (1) overcome the pain of the massage, and (2) keeping the ikan bakar that was threatening to jump right out of my tummy, permanently inside. Not long after, I also had (3) to keep my fart within my bowels. At some points, she would slap the part that I would stiffen up when fighting the pain and would say to me, “Lee-lacks!” If I had relaxed, rice and fish would have been on the floor, and I would have farted straight into her face.

I think she had fun putting me through the torture. Every single milimeter, including what the malays would call the urat halus where even Wifey’s elbows and knees could not reach, got scrutinised by the 100-kilo elbows.

I would usually fall asleep in the middle of a massage session. This time it was difficult. It was pure torturous pain. For more than an hour I had to endure the pain. Towards the end, I fell asleep. Either that or I had passed out because of the pain. Anyhow, exactly two hours after the session was commenced, it was completed. Half-asleep, I got up, feeling like I was recovering from a dose of general anaesthesia, got dressed and paid. She showed me where it went wrong and said the word “Bad” every time she pointed to the figure in the drawing. I felt relieved when she didn’t point to that part in between my thighs.

I walked to the car, feeling a thousand times better, and smiled to myself knowing I’d be able to whack Wifey again tonight, hopefully, without the discomfort of a backache. And if I do have one again a few months down the line, I hope it’s not Ah Gong that they will assign to me again.

National Fatwa Council Forbids Tomboyism


The National Fatwa Council has ruled that tomboyism is forbidden (haram) in Islam. The Council goes on to describe tomboys as girls who dress up or behave in a boyish manner because there had been cases of young women inclined to behave like men to indulge in homosexuality.

Back in 1992, I had a female recruit under my charge. She looked like a boy, a pretty one at that, wore jeans and pants, shirts and jackets, could beat up 3 guys as she was a silat exponent. Would you say that she is a tomboy? There was also an officer more senior in rank than I was, who looked like a butch, behaved like a guy, but liked younger guys. So would you brand her a homosexual?

My eldest daughter, Hana, is a very outdoor person. Ever since she was a year plus, I had exposed her to the world of skydiving, and now, scuba diving. She’s very active in sports at school. She doesn’t wear skirts. I know she has a boyfriend in school. So would you brand her a homosexual?

How a person dresses up does not say whether one is a homosexual or straight. A man can look very manly, dashing-looks with 6-packs and all, but most I have met at the gym who are like that are homosexuals. And branding a person as homosexual does not win points for Islam either. In fact, we might drive them away from Islam. So, is that Islamic? Is branding someone negatively an Islamic act?

We cannot stop how a person feels. For as long as the person recites the Testimony of Faith (Shahadah); pray five times a day, or tries to; fast during the month of Ramadhan; give out alms (Zakat); and, perform the Haj once in a lifetime if able to, then he/she fulfils the requirements of being a Muslim. No one can question his/her faith (aqidah). I have met a gay man whose sexual preference is undeniable. He prays more than I do in any given day, has performed the Haj, and returns to Mecca every single year for the Umrah (minor pilgrimage). So, how are we supposed to see him as?

But to brand a homosexual as that, to me, is not on. We will only further alienate these people just because of their sexual preference. In the case of lesbians, find the root cause for it – maybe they saw their mother being beaten up by their abusive father, or maybe they were molested or raped as a child – they have problems in trying to communicate with the male species due to those causes, and maybe many more that I have failed to mention here, therefore, they feel more comfortable being with a member of their own gender. Maybe they feel that another female will not hurt them the way males have hurt them.

Even in the case of transvestites: I have two cousins who are very female – not just in touch with their feminine side, but very female. One used to be a drag queen, and used to perform on stage as one; the other is still a makeup artist for local entertainers. Both are in their 40s now. While I can’t discuss much about the former, but in the case of the latter, he was brought up by his paternal grandparents, and lived amongst his aunts. They dressed him up like a girl and so on. When he went for his secondary education, his peers treated him like a female, ridiculing him at first, then got him to perform sexual acts with them.

Imagine the looks they’d get from members of the public who care less about their feelings, getting more ammunition from the Fatwa Council to further isolate them from society. Islam is a great way of life, and God is Most Compassionate. If we alienate these people through our own doings, then we go to prove how intolerant Islam is, and how zalim (cruel) our God is. The correct approach is through education and counselling. Prophet Muhammad’s methods of dealing with wrongdoings have never been harsh, but more towards making others understand the consequences and impacts of their acts on the community as a whole.

We should stop issuing vertiginous edicts that will not bring about any benefit to the society as a whole, not just the Muslim community. Maybe, we Muslims should keep reminding ourselves that the God that we worship is the God for all mankind – be they Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Indians; and any wrongdoing towards any one of them, or towards another Muslim, be they straight or gay, is a wrongdoing done to God Himself.

A Writer’s Block

Writers Block

I am suffering from it. Not because I do not know what to write about, but I have so many things that I would like to write about. And everytime my mind starts drafting a post, another event overtakes the previous ones.

One of it is about the usual same circus that we all call the Parliament. We are all guilty of choosing the monkeys that are now performing in there. And things are now getting worse when the MPs, be they from the ruling or opposing coalitions, showed disrespect the Deputy Speaker of the House. That is an insult to the institution, and such acts should not be condoned. The relevant MPs should be suspended from sitting.

The reason people want to rule, to become chosen by the people, is not to serve, but to enjoy the privileges that come with the office. We, the people. would expect MPs and state councillors have some form of decorum. No, in Malaysia that is not the case at all. Everyone’s fighting for the top-most post, and everyone is selling their ideology so that the party they represent can be in power, or continue to stay in power. And for most, it is about being able to make a few pennies here and there. A century ago, people of such stature would behave themselves, be accountable for; and even if they do make riches, it would be communal, not individual. There was no need for “contracts” to sign to represent a promise. It was always the case of “word of honour.”

Nowadays, the rich and the members of such circles of “nobilities” are not necessarily ennobled.

More than 50 years after the British left this country, its people have regressed in terms of race-relations, and it has come to a very disturbing level. 30 years ago I never heard this term called “malay supremacy (Ketuanan Melayu).” Even as it is, this race I shamely call mine, is nowhere near being supreme simply because they have been spoonfed all along, and have lost the motor functions of their hands. They will simply die if not fed by the government. They refuse to accept other languages, citing the need to preserve the Malay language in every single transaction. In the end, the malays lose out because they are only comfortable speaking in their own language. yeah, yeah, maybe the Malay language was an international language 600 yers ago, but nobody wants to buy spices from us anymore. There is nothing that the malays produce that the international community wants badly.

Everyday I would cringe whenever a senior government official makes a statement in English on national TV. I would cringe when seeing the crawlers at the bottom of the TV screen where youngsters and wanna-be-youngsters SMS something in English to the respective TV station. Worse still, having to endure such torture while listening to an English-medium radio station while being stuck in a traffic jam somewhere. Some caller with a strange accent would speak in something similar to English, and your mind works overtime correcting their grammar and sentence structure.

Okay, I’m starving right now, and the longer I stay in front of this screen, the more depressed Wifey’s going to get.

What a writer’s block!

Malaysians During The Vietnam War

Royal Malaysian Police's Senoi Praaq

Malaysia was involved in the Vietnam War. I met a veteran soldier, the late Col Syed (passed away in October 2003) of the Malaysian Army, who was an attache in Saigon before it fell.

The Senoi Praaqs (above) were roped in by the CIA to assist them as ‘translators’ when the former wanted to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the highlands people. They speak a common lingo apparently.

Anyway, here’s an old music video by Paul Hardcastle. 60’s babies should be able to remember this song:

An Advice To The Vegetables

How often do you find yourself having to wonder what’s written on a road sign because it’s behind a tree or some overgrown bush that used to be a flowerbed which was supposed to be maintained by the local council?

It really is annoying, isn’t it?

Well, with an economic crisis looming, a town in Yorkshire, England, called Todmorden, has grown vegetables and fruit trees all over the town. Best still, they are all free for anyone to pick and take home to cook! This edible landscape is a million times better than the flowers and trees that are being planted by the various local councils – they don’t cost much to grow, and you help the taxxpayers. The only thing, being in Malaysia, they’ll have to find a way to stop thieves from stealing and reselling them in some market somewhere.

Whatever it is, this is the most sound thing to do now, and I certainly hope the vegetables in the local council can and will do something similar.

If Syed Hamid Albar Is The Health Minister, The Government Will Shut Down All Hospitals

I cannot believe such a statement: a written reply such as this, could come from a senior minister:

Friday October 17, 2008
Policemen beat a retreat

KUALA LUMPUR: A police beat base located in the Chow Kit area of downtown Kuala Lumpur has been shut down because the “presence of criminals could make it unsafe” for police officers.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the beat base was located in a dirty area where police faced the possibility of being exposed to contagious diseases.

The presence of criminals also posed a threat to the safety of police officers.

He said this in a written reply to Dr Lo’ Lo’ Mohamad Ghazali (PAS – Titiwangsa).

Dr Lo’ Lo’ had asked why the beat base along Jalan Haji Taib was closed considering that vice activities were high in the area.

She also wanted to know what kind of action had been taken by the police to curb vice activities in the Chow Kit area.

Syed Hamid said police were in the midst of finding a new location for the beat base.

In an immediate response, City Chief Police Officer Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Sabtu Osman said the beat base was not shut down but relocated to bigger premises near Jalan Raja Bot.

“We moved there to provide better service as we have increased our manpower and need more space,” he said.

Dr Lo’ Lo’s question was the 30th in the Order Paper and hence did not get a mention in the House during the daily one-hour Question Time.

However, Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli (PAS – Kuala Krai) managed to raise the matter when he interjected during Azmin Ali’s (PKR – Gombak) speech during the debate on Budget 2009.

Dr Mohd Hatta said that if the police themselves felt unsafe in a beat base, it would be even worse for the public.

“Maybe it would be better to put the beat base in the army barracks.”

Dr Mohd Hatta then managed to raise the issue again during his own debate on Budget 2009 saying that Syed Hamid’s response was irrational and hoped he would clarify his written answer as this was not the kind of police the people wanted.

“The police are there to make a place safe. If they themselves are scared and run away, how can we hope for others to want to be there?” he asked.

Dr Mohd Hatta said if the place was dirty, it was up to the police to organise gotong-royong activities to clean it up.

He added the only kind of contagious disease in the area was sexually transmitted, adding that getting infected was a matter of choice.

From The Star


Get them doctors and nurses out of the hospitals too while you’re at it, dimwit!

Hang Nak Main Apa?

A jukebox

I’m sure you know how some people have the uncanny ability to converse in different dialects. Normally, they would be dialects other than their own. Some people would just try to mimic sounds, or guess how certain words would be spoken in certain dialects, and then get themselves in an imbroglio.

For example, Kelantanese (people from the state of Kelantan) have this linguistic rule that words ending in a _ang, or, _am, or _an, that ending syllable is to be pronounced as _ae (rhymes with the English ‘care‘). So an imbroglio one would get one’s self into would be going to a market buying a mango (which is Mempelam, or Pelam, in official Malay, but in Kelantan is refered to as Buah Pauh). Example:

Foreign Man: “Mek, demo jua buoh pelae dok?” (Miss, do you sell any testicles?)

Fruitseller: “Buoh pelae? Buoh pelae ado celoh kakae demo!” (Testicles? You can find testicles in between your legs!)

One can only imagine the kind of predicament one could get into.

Back in the late 1980’s when I was stationed on the island of Penang, I used to frequent the trunk road to get to and from Kuala Lumpur. Those were the days when the North-South highway was only between Seremban and Sungai Besi on the southern side, and Jelapang to Changkat Jering on the northern side. There were various roadside restaurants along the way where express buses would stop for coffee breaks and what-nots. And the ones found in Perak would have a jukebox in them.

On one of the trips, a colleague, who was a senior in the Air Force than I was, was travelling with me. We were on our way back to Penang and had stopped just after the junction to Taiping, having exited earlier at the Changkat Jering toll plaza. In that area of Perak, people spoke in the northern dialect, similar to the ones spoken in Penang, Kedah and Perlis; where the syllable that ends with an ‘r’, sounds like it ends with a deep ‘q’. And this friend of mine would have a nimiety of weird northern words peculiar only to him. He saw this fair (and cute) maiden who was the cashier – and next to her was the jukebox. Trying to impress her, he spoke loudly to me:

“Mat, bak mai dua kupang! Aku nak main juboq!” (Mat, can you give me 20 sen? I want to play the anus!)

And I am sure he could feel the malevolent gaze that came from the girl as he walked away from the jukebox, finally realising what it actually meant.