Recently there was conference of Muslim clerics ('ulama) in Malaysia that came up with 22 resolutions (some call fatwa). Among them being that it was not allowed for Muslims to conduct a joint celebration of festivities, which has been a common scene in Malaysia and Singapore for the last few years. In the last few years, we have seen some religious festivities like Hari Raya (Eid), Deepavali and Chinese New Year coinciding in dates or at least occcuring very close to each other, perhaps even 1 day apart. This is primarily because of the way the Islamic calendar operates versus the calendars subscribed by the Chinese and Hindus. The celebrations and festivities were great fun because everyone shared their festivities and learnt about the diverse cultures and faiths.
Anyway there were some interesting articles concerning the issue. In a comment made by Rose Ismail entitled "Is Our Faith That Fragile", she said "A joint Chinese New Year-Hari Raya gathering, where I would probably eat an orange, a handful of peanuts and a biscuit or two, should not turn me into a traitor of the religion". She also said "It seems to suggest that our faith in God is so fundamentally fragile that, on the slightest pretext, we can be persuaded to jump ship". You can read her article here.
I agree with Rose. Why do these austere clerics think that celebrating such festivities would make us Muslims weak in faith. It's absolute nonsense. I mean if the Muslims were to celebrate their festivities within their own confines, then where is the da'wah? How do we make others understand Islam? How can we expose others to Islam and Muslims? So, when others don't understand Islam, then we can only blame ourselves.
Zainah Anwar also wrote a stinging article concerning the ridiculous fatwa. She wrote in "Making Taboo A Cherished Tradition":
WHAT next on the laundry list of the forbidden? On Tuesday, it was pluralism and liberalism that posed a danger to the faith of Muslims. On Wednesday it was kongsi raya and open house. Tomorrow will it be the Barisan Nasional multi-ethnic coalition system that is haram because such close co-operation might undermine the faith of the Muslims in Umno.
So what else will those bent on turning this country into a theocratic dictatorship focus their attention on next?
The Ninth Malaysia Plan has been launched. National priorities and challenges have been identified and everyone is rolling up their sleeves to get to work. And what did some of our ulama do? They met for two days to declare so much of what we love and celebrate about Malaysia and being Malaysian, as threats to the Muslim faith. What else could be in the 22 resolutions passed by the Majlis Muzakarah of our ulama this week? What among the 11 fatwas passed by the Majlis Ulama Indonesia or from the thousands in the Wahhabi catalogue of fatwas did they decide to adopt?
Read the rest of the article here.