Thursday, 23 April 2020

Tomorrow Muslims in Malaysia should be starting to observe the annual Ramadan fast, while a global pandemic is crippling economies and wreaking havoc on people’s livelihoods. It will be an extremely challenging time for many, as savings dry up, and they lose their jobs.

As Malaysian Muslims, we were brought up to believe that fasting is a test of will and submission to God, that it humbles us and makes us appreciative of what we have. It’s supposed to make us kinder as human beings.

Every year, in the Malaysian social media sphere, anyway, we see evidence that we have collectively flunked with flying colors. This week, it’s the sudden rise of vitriol and hatred toward Rohingya refugees. It’s back to the “they’re dirty, useless, lazy, that’s why they were chased away” ugly rhetorics once reserved for hateful Myanmarese Buddhist monks and their supporters.

Well, one thing is for sure, in my book. Ramadan remains a way to collect holy points in God’s books, via all kinds of rituals that can be gamed to generate maximum returns, much like investing in the latest Animal Crossing. The values that lie behind the actual fast? Those can take a back seat.

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