Friday, July 13, 2012

The Meaning of Spiritual Ritual - Faith, Love, Music and Art in Malaysia. Funny how people get confused so easily...

Simply lovely...

BEAUTIFUL MORNING. It was a beautiful clear morning. And with very little overnight clouds, the air was refreshingly cool. Well, at least until the sun came up. But for that brief interlude of 15 minutes or so, it felt really nice.

THEN I READ THE PAPERS. Had I wanted to keep my morning bright and cheerful, I would not have opened today's newspaper. But I was breakfasting alone, so I grabbed The Sun newspaper. As I was enjoying my morning broth and beehoon noodle (we call it soto beehoon around here, a traditional Javanese dish imported from our ever-generous neighbours, the Indonesians) I came across an interesting article. See below.

What the...?

SECULAR STATE? I am not actually sure which branch of Federal or State government that hosts the Culture & Arts Department, but I am pretty sure that it's a government body. And it appears they have an auditorium. But surprisingly, their approach is rather secular because a department spokesman commented that any performance done in these auditoriums "...must not contain any elements of religious rituals either before, during or after the performance." And here I was thinking that my country was 'officially' an Islamic country. But perhaps they want to be even-handed and fair here. Not that I see any problems of the auditoriums being used for 'religious' culture and arts performances. After all, we must admit, that a large part of our traditional and folk arts and music are essentially, or derived essentially from spiritual roots. This is true, I think, regardless of whether you are a Malay, Chinese or Indian, or whether you are a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist or Christian.

NASYID NOT RELIGIOUS? The funny thing however is that the Department then proceeds to decide what is religious and what isn't. To them, Christian gospel choirs are religious. And also some classical Indian dances, because according to them, there are religious significance associated with such dance and music. But when it came to Nasyid, that traditional Malay and Muslim musical ensemble which sings worship of God and praise of the Prophet(pbuh), it isn't religious at all. Really?? The reason given is that "...Nasyid, which means chant in Arabic, is a music style famed through out the Middle East and Muslim countries. Although it has elements of religion, it is not disallowed as it is not a ritual."

You know, I have heard Nasyid, performed live or on TV. And let me assure you, that if Nasyid is not religious, then I am a monkey. Because I am clearly without the mental faculty to distinguish between religion and pure-culture. Take me to the zoo and put me in a cage.

Wait, wait... let me just upload this story,
then they can take me to jail.

DISINGENUOUS. And anyway, what the heck does a religious 'ritual' means? My friends tell me that breathing is a religious ritual (Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist mystics all agree on this point). Sitting down having tea, standing up, walking, running, working, playing, making-love and sleeping - all aspects of our life contains deep spiritual significance. The world was made as a stage for our ritual of love and servanthood to Almighty God. This is a Muslim point of view. From what point of view do these government departments make their decisions?

Raihan... a Malaysian Nasyid group. They were simply awesome.

PLEASING NO ONE. I think the powers-that-be are being unfair and disingenuous. Unfair to different faiths, and disingenuous to all faiths, including Islam. The minorities will say that the government is unfair, which is true. Muslims will say that the government's concept of religion and spirituality in Islam as being woefully bereft of breadth of vision that is the rightful inheritance of all members of the Nation of Muhammad(pbuh).

In a previous posting entitled 'Islamic State? What Islamic State? - Cure of Confusion from the Sinners' Dictionary' (Click Here to read), we talked about what it means to be a Muslim State / Country. This little ridiculous episode will fail an important test (test of fairness). *sigh* But of course the world is full of error. Yet I can still recall the beautiful morning that God has granted us for this Friday. I will remember that, and avoid getting stressed for no good reason. I will endeavour to be grateful and thankful. And this too, I believe, is a religious / spiritual ritual.

Thank You.... God.

Don't you agree, sunshine?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way


jo said...

ah gitu. we should drink more tea and stop reading newspapers.
Have a fun Friday anyway.

Milky Tea said...

Yes, gitu!

My Friday is always fun, my Sabbath lovely and my Sunday wonderful..

Keep the faith!


Ash said...

I don't read papers anymore, I never regret it. Just don't wanna spoil my day.
And true, the weather yesterday was truly beautiful, it's like having spring at your doorstep :)

Milky Tea said...


Ta very dropping by. Yes,... reading newspaper (especially the bad news, and most of them are) is like taking a bitter pill in the morning to poison your day...

But the day was indeed lovely, and the morning wonderful!