Not too long ago, we had the protests against the Interfaith Commission (IFC), Article 11 and the powers of the civil court over religious (read: Muslim) matters being tested by one high profile case after another.
And we also had a proclaimation a while back by a govt cleric that joint celebrations of Hari Raya and another festival like Deepavali (Deeparaya) or Chinese New Year (Kongsiraya) were haram or contrary to the principles of Islam. Now his colleagues have recently pickup up the baton and reinforced the religious policy-makers' opposition to free mutton curry and pampadam at your neighbour's house.
And it seems like religious intolerance is like bad weather. When it rains, it pours. Deeparaya is being picked on again. Employees of Takaful Insurance have been told not to wish their customers "Selamat Hari Deepavali".
One time, it's funny. Two times, the joke's getting old. Now, I'm not so sure if a Muslim's akidah or faith is really so fragile (as the clerics would have you believe) that if he just so much as stands next to a guy wearing the wrong perfume, he will end up doubting the existence of the almighty.
I just don't know where this intolerance is coming from. But then again, I am a godless infidel, no less.
Why are these clerics so concerned about LOOKING religious in public, rather than truly BEING religious in their homes and their hearts? Why is so much importance placed on superficial FORM, and so much less on true SUBSTANCE?
And why are the clerics focusing on only certain aspects of Islam? Why focus only on the covering of aurat (modest dressing), close proximity of males and females, adultery and public displays of piety? Where is the practice of universal values that Islam prescribes? Why, in comparison, do the clerics speak so little about the values of fairness, justice, honour, charity and respect?
And I cannot understand why these clerics are so afraid that muslims will lose their faith due to such trivial and inconsequential things like wishing his friend happiness on their day of celebration, or joining in SOCIAL festivities which main purpose is to promote friendship and mutual respect, not evangelism.
Is a Muslim's faith so easily shaken? Most my muslim friends are the most pious and god-fearing people I know. I just do not accept that they go home lesser muslims after enjoying a hearty halal meal at my non-Muslim home during Chinese New Year. And I suspect... that they don't accept it as well.