Friday, August 20, 2010

To fast or not fast?

I was shocked with this article I read on the Malaysian Insider stating "Malay rights group Perkasa wants the Grace Church Shah Alam and its pastor investigated for planning to stage a Christian play in Muslim-majority Shah Alam during the Ramadan fasting month".

Goodness Gracious!

This is the EXACT same thinking of that someone who told me I shouldn't say "I'm pigging out at a Malay eatery" otherwise "some people will get the wrong idea that pork is being sold at the halal restaurant."

You think this is dumb?

Remember the movie 'Babe'? Yes...that cute little piglet who warmed the hearts of many viewers with his irressistable innocence and charm? Well, in 2005, Perkasa also wanted a ban on this movie because the lead 'actor' is a pig - haram for the muslims. I also read somewhere that the word PIGMENTATION was censored in a documentary because the first syllable is 'pig'.


And in 2007, Guardian pharmacy did not offer Piglet as part of its Winnie the Pooh gift redemption promotion.

As JacquelineSurin of thenutgraph rightfully sums it up,

"What do these events tell us? They tell us that there is a creeping, even if not concerted, effort by state and non-state players, to determine what is publicly kosher and what is not. It doesn’t matter if nothing in Islam actually prohibits non-Muslims from staging a Christian play during Ramadan, drinking alcohol, eating pork and watching a pig character in the movies.

The bottomline? Public space is no longer everyone’s space. It’s theirs — those Malay Muslims who believe that their imagined sensitivities alone give them the right to deny others access and use of public spaces"

She adds,

"The ban on “Allah” and the three other words is no different from what Perkasa is doing in Shah Alam. A publicly-used word, like publicly-shared spaces, only belongs to Muslims. It’s as if these Muslim state and non-state actors are declaring, “Our space, not anyone else’s. Our word, not anyone else’s.”

And because their demands have no historical, cultural or legal legitimacy, they resort to demonising non-Muslims, accusing them of crimes and ill-intentions. And they use the powers of the state to impose and enforce ownership over “our space” and “our word”.

And so the biggie isn’t that our political landscape is littered more and more with irrational demands and wild allegations from certain Malay Muslim quarters. The biggie is that increasingly, there are more and more concerted attempts by these forces, which include the Umno-led federal government, to take over shared public spaces."

Hmmm... I agree with her to a certain degree.

Recently, someone asked me why do I fast during the Ramadan. I answered her, "why not?'"

Looking at her disturbed expression, I gave her my 'short form reply';

" For vanity reasons. I want to lose weight and detox my body"

She still looked confused.

And so I shall explain.

Most of my friends are muslims. In fact, someone very, very dear and close to me is muslim and since we share the same house, plus our maid is muslim, it made things easier to fast and berbuka together. Since she's also concerned about her weight, we both take turns cooking healthy dinner dishes.

So yup. I try to observe the full fast timetable from sahur at dawn till the breaking of fast during Maghrib in the evening. But ask?

During Uni days, I fasted because the canteens were closed and I didn't feel 'nice' eating in my dorm as a sign of respect to my muslim roomie. Plus, I spent most of my money on my 'ride' (Honda NSR 150!) so, fasting also enabled me to save on lunch money.

While I was doing my Masters, I was struggling with finances - I was traveling to and fro from Penang to KL for work. Afterall, someone had to pay for the fees and rent, so I was very thrifty with my finances - and that was why I'd fast not during Lent and Ramadan only, but on a regular basis to save a bit of money.

As soon as I met my (then) bf-turn-hubby, I only fasted during Sundays before receiving the Holy Communion and during Lent. With Ryan, it was hard to resist food -- he loved his food and our 'dates' was usually seeking new eateries and new dishes to test our palates with. We enjoyed our 'food' quest adventures together and I have always been a happy eater, so pounds piled on and it showed in our wedding pictures! =). I was also doing quite well then, so I was comfortable.

A few months later, I went through some trying times. And with that came depression. It wasn't long after that I sought for renewal of spiritual guidance. With penance and a lot of love from those who matter, I prodded on to fasting - for self reflection and to help me understand myself better during some spiritual exercises.

That was 3 years ago, and ever since then, I have tried to be more kinder in my approach to life. And to apologise to those who I have hurt and to forgive those who have chose to hurt me. With this, I have changed my perception to certain things - which includes my reason for fasting.

We live in a multi-cultural community - but not many truly take the initiative to understand one another. Being one who has been on the spectrum of ridicule and scorn, fitnah and horrible speculation - I want to make sure I do not make that mistake of not trying to understand two sides of the story.

I was told that during the fasting month, the iblis, syaitan and jin are tied up in hell - so God gives you the reprieve from the devil's work during this Holy month. So any shortcomings and wrong comes from your own doing. You can't blame the work of the devil, so to speak.

So patience and tolerance is put to test, besides pulling away from the desire to eat, drink and for (married) adults - to refrain from sexual conduct (and thoughts).

Just for the same reason we Catholics fast during Lent, I am also fasting this Ramadan to have a greater appreciation for what I am blessed with - a roof over our heads and food on the table. A job that pays the bills and a family who loves me, a partnership that is filled with understanding and an able body that is healthy and active.

It also allows one to build a sense of self-control and willpower, which can be beneficial throughout life in dealing with temptations and peer pressure. I know this act can also be like a training ground to keep anger from flaring and evil thoughts to permeate our souls. Oooh...there have been times when I wanted to retaliate - when I hear some absurd stuff being said about myself and those I love... but I'm going to let God handle gossipmongers. You can't change the narrow mindedness of humans but you can pray not be like that.

And best of all, I am allowing my body to detox itself in every sense of the way. From physical cleansing to mind and soul. There is also a greater sense of gratitude and generosity as well as forgiveness present - especially during the breaking of fast. When the whole family/ group of friends come together to eat and berbuka bersama.

During lent, we fast a 'different' way. One light, small meal is eaten in a day. Drinking water is still allowed, but the basis is to refrain from the norm (eg:if you prefer sweet drinks, drink plain water. If two scoops of rice is your normal intake, take half of it instead). Catholics also fast on obligatory days like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In fact, some abstain from meat - especially on Fridays. (easy for me since I'm not such a big fan of meat anyway =))

So fasting the 'muslim' way is an eye-opener for me. I want to understand how it is done. Obviously Ramadan will not mean the same thing for me as it does for my muslim friend and relative because I may 'lack' the spiritual meaning which Muslims apply to it, but the physical way it is conducted is the best way for me to understand it...for now.

It also comes back to the communal aspect in which I 'berbuka' together with the rest of the household/group of friends. I might be the only catholic waking up for sahur alone in my home, but I am comforted knowing that there are many doing the same thing- and that feeling is priceless and endearing to say the least.

TriciaYeoh, who fasts as well, summarizes it so well:

“The communal experience is a beautiful thing that we sometimes lose in an increasingly individualistic society. But if we were to think bigger, then communal also means looking out for the nation’s best interests. Those who are fasting should be reminded that there’s a greater purpose out there and the borders between races ought to thin. It’s all the more essential for everyone to step into the shoes of the ‘other’ in this time and age. We all have to make these efforts, these baby steps.”

AMEN to that.


  1. masih ramai orang Melayu Islam di Malaysia ni yg cetek akal, they pretend as if they know so much about this religion they were born into, but sadly they know almost nothing. Ini termasuklah "orang2 atas" yang mempunyai kuasa, tapi kurang ilmu. As a muslim myself, saya sangat sedih dengan situasi ni. When a friend ask me about Islam, i usually say "refer to the Quran and Hadith of the Prophet, sbb orang Islam sekarang hanya Islam pada nama"

    Thanks for this post Daphne :)

  2. good read. There are some Muslims who dont even fast in the month of Ramadan. I really respect your effort and the way you think. Just make sure u dont pass out :)

  3. Hi Daphne, thanks for sharing. You reminded me of a few posts I put up on Lent and fasting, you may check it out if you wish :)


  4. peace be upon you.

    i agree. haha yeah i think that's kinda dumb. sure us muslims are not allowed to eat pork/lard. but that doesn't mean we have to be so anti it! in fact when i was younger i loved "piglet" in winnie the pooh :D

    but i don't get it. the word pig should not be a topic of debate! who cares if you use the word pig? true, it is the thinking of the malay muslims that we are talking about. i pretty much am fine with the word. its the object, not the word -_-

    but you see, auntie Daphne, in my opinion, the reason the muslims are so against the usage of the term "Allah" to be used by christians to refer to God when they preach is because they might refer to their God, right? I mean, in case of Islam, god is one but in Christianity there's the trinity. (cprrect me if i am wrong.)So it pretty much would bring much confusion to the old makcik-makcik melayu who just take everything as true- whatever they hear. lol yeah.

    and yes, fasting helps in detox! ;) Thanks for bringing out this topic, was an enjoyable read. may we be blessed.

  5. Pon, Amen! :)
    It's the org yg narrow minded people yg buat all this propaganda and probably doesnt understand English as much.
    It is already stated in the Quran that, nearing the end of time, there's lotsa of Muslim not many have Quality.
    Dont worry, everything happens for a reason.

  6. I second that, Ms ysmnn.

    Yet another nice post, Daphne.
    Pigs are still one of God's creatures. Just don't touch or eat them that's all. Even if you do touch them, there are ways to go about it.

    As always these days, it's the Muslims. Not ISLAM. It's a perfect and beautiful religion. Some of us muslims (myself included) always seem to put a shame on our own religion without even realizing it. How ignorant are we..

  7. hmm exactly! and how can the so called "authorities" make such rulings? even God mentioned 'pig' in the Quran. except in arabic. no difference, aye? we've got to be a little bit more intelligent- muslims nowdays.

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  9. some of us (the muslims) claimed that the christians are being insensitive by using the word "Allah" but aren't we being insensitives to the hindus everytime raya came along by publicly flaunting the "upacara korban" for cows?

    why is that some of us only notice the actions of others before looking at ourselves in the mirror first?