Ungracious citizenry of the (seemingly) enlightened realm

I am talking about the western world, by the way.

Warning: you will be frustrated by my repetitive use of the word ‘west’.

To prevent myself from saying ‘west’ too loosely, I should limit the word to Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and much of Europe.

Okay, the last one still makes it a bit vague. But, it is more precise than saying it is where white people live. Unless you are a racist, one believes non-whites can be westerners. Being one is all about the heritage, after all.

Anyway…

It is no secret the most jingoistic westerners love to boast how their countries are the bastions of freedom on earth. They love to boast how humans from all over the globe flocking in to live in their safer, freer, more democratic and more progressive homelands. They actually have a point, though.

We have to acknowledge the west is indeed the most civilised realm at the present time! It is the most free regarding speech and religions, the most democratic, the most accepting of diversity, the most children-friendly, the most feminist and the most sexually liberated territory there is.*

Of course, there is no better way to celebrate what makes their homelands great by murdering them!

They believe immigrants are uneducated and unenlightened. This is why they want funding for schools, universities, the arts, science and public broadcasting to be slashed or, even better, defunded entirely! To be truly enlightened, one must give heed only to religious and political indoctrination, absorb their messages earnestly and execute them in one’s daily life!

They believe Muslin extremists are the greatest threats to global religious freedom. That’s the reason why they propose religiously discriminatory legislation. It literally makes sense to fight bigotry, which every Mohammedan is guilty of as confirmed by everyone’s favourite opinionated public figures and bigoted uncles, with bigotry. As we all know, the only way to kill fire is by adding more fire!

They believe ISIS-loving commie feminazi SJW libtard cucks hate democracy! Ultimately, they feel obliged to support a man who proudly undermines the sanctity of trias politica and they are openly grateful of the Kremlin for sabotaging the election!

They believe ISIS-loving commie feminazi SJW libtard cucks are the greatest menaces to freedom of speech! Of course, they have to make an exception. Restriction of speech is ungodly when it torments adherents of old-fashioned, Judeo-Christian family values. If it torments their enemies, then it is godly. There is no better way to protect freedom of speech than robbing it from the people they constantly accuse of threatening it!

They believe Muzzies are the biggest misogynists. Therefore, they must vote for politicians who dismiss gender pay gap as a myth, insist on upholding the innate moral superiority of patriarchy, slut shame ‘slutty’ women while glorifying ‘slutty’ men and oppose abortions because every birth, even ones resulted from rapes, is a divine gift and vaginas must be regulated by old men as women are too incapable to make decisions about their own bodies!

They believe we should execute harsh punishments to sexual predators. But, instead of doing libtard craps like implementing sex education, voting sexually abusive politicians out and condemning victim-blaming attitude, the only way to crush sexual predatoriness is to uphold heteronormativity and cisnormativity. The only way to accomplish that is to keep dehumanising the LGBT communities!

I can do this all day…

Back then, I used to deified westerners as illuminated demigods whose intimate lives intertwined with flawlessness. Slowly, I realised how they were also puny mortals like the rest of mankind. Nowadays, I see them as a swarm of some of the most ungracious organisms in existence!

I mean, some of them are too mentally deficient to appreciate their heritages’ finer attributes; when they are not suffocating themselves with propaganda, they senselessly enjoy unrefined entertainment which they fervently regard as sophisticated.

With that in mind, should we be surprised by their incapability to treasure their motherlands’ comparative modernity? You know, one of the things that makes them glorious in the first place?

Even though my family is not rich, my life is still very privileged compared to most Indonesians’. I didn’t need to have a part time job when I was young. I was able to study abroad. Food and housing were never an issue. Eventually, I become a spoiled, jobless twenty-something man…

…And, in a slightly off analogy, many westerners are just like that. Breathing among what can be described as liberalism drive them into the orifice of depreciation. They don’t know how it feels living in more oppressive lands. Ultimately, they have no hesitation to deny the ‘others’ the privilege they have been enjoying since birth.

Maybe, depreciation is the problem… or maybe, it is just sheer idiocy.

What those pitiful creatures deem as cultural brilliance definitely include anti-intellectualism, zealous traditionalism, religious fundamentalism and soppy jingoism. You know, the things enlightened individuals deem as cultural retardation. The things that hamper the growth of third world countries.

Admittedly, I do sound pontifical and I should refrain myself from declaring the conclusiveness of my sentiments. But, can you blame me for acting like this?

All the things I said above aren’t just a result of momentary sentiments. They are the results of observation that commenced long before the rise of the alt-right movements! I have watched countless videos, read countless articles and interacted with countless western individuals online. Those thoughts slowly materialised over the passing of many suns! The more I know, the more I am disenchanted.

Even so, I still view the west with a high regard. Despite everything, it is also the place where most of my cultural heroes are from, the place where I intend to reside in indefinitely. But, do you know who still have remarkably strong faith in the west? Refugees!

In spite of the hateful rhetoric of public figures, many refugees are still heading to the west to chase a safer life! Obviously, no matter how ignorant and hateful it can be, the west looks heavenly when juxtaposed with the tyrannical, bloodthirsty old countries. But, that’s just one reason.

Savages seem to make up the majority of westerners. They don’t. Their voices command the conversations because they have the loudest megaphones, in part thanks to their detractors’ recklessness. In fact, I am willing to bet they are outnumbered by kinder and more open-minded beings.

If the degenerates are indeed the majority, it would be a lot harder to legitimize any glorification of the west. It would be a lot harder to advertise the American and European dreams to citizens of the third world. The west would be where people are flocking out of, not flocking into.

As much as I despise Eurocentrism and Americentrism, the abundance of enlightened souls in the west is something every gracious individual must cherish…

…and it is pathetic how they are the ones being condemned as degenerates by their degenerate fellow countrymen.

*Obviously, those claims are debatable. In the west, it is easy to find someone getting triggered every time he/she hears a foreign language. In non-western countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, such person would be considered pussies, too weak to handle petty differences. But, in the contemporary west, when sectarianism arises, it won’t be as easily widespread and violent.

While feminism has a stronger footing in the west, it is also the place where right-wing figures still openly believe women are destined to stay in the kitchen and to use their vaginas only for child bearing. Can’t say anything about other countries. But, in Indonesia, such misogynistic rhetoric are almost unheard off. At least, not in the mass media.

Compared to the other regions, the west seems to have best sex education, where sex shaming is not as strong. Well, I should allude to Japan, a paradoxical land where poor sex education and extremely sexual cartoons exist alongside each other. Admittedly, some depictions of sexual acts are morally questionable (and it deserves an essay of its own, assuming I want to do some research). But, others also depict extremely kinky yet consensual sex acts; if it is enough to conclude using just one fact ( it is not), then it seems Japan is a place where kink shaming does not exist.

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What can non-Muslims do to combat Islamic extremism?

*puts on a mask*

It is simple: just whine! You are a non-Muslim. Unlike Muslims, you don’t share any labels of identification with the Muslim extremists.; there is no satanic supernatural connection between you and them. So, none of your actions can and will empower them. You can do shits like giving weapons to Saudi Arabia, giving Muslim extremists too many platforms on the media and even declaring them as the only true Muslims and you still won’t empower Islamic extremism! Believe me, all non-Muslims have to do is to whine and whine.

Actually, there is one extra thing you can do: harass Muslims! If they dare to talk about anything other than Islamic extremism, accuse them of shameless apathy! If they dare to react negatively against figures who demonise them, accuse them of hate speech!

If they really care about Islamic extremism, they should talk about it literally 24/7, making it their sole priority in life! If they really care about Islamic extremism, they should be willing to be stripped of their human dignity! Harass the fuck out of them!

All the while, you can still suck Muslim extremists’ dicks and nobody can smell your dick breath.

*takes off the mask*

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What can Muslims do to combat Islamic extremism?

*puts on a mask*

It is simple: just deny that it is Islamic! It does not matter if the extremists are motivated by certain interpretations of Quranic teachings. It does not matter if they sincerely see themselves as Muslims. Islamic extremism is not Islamic. Therefore, it is not a real thing and the only way to combat a non-existing entity is to deny its existence!

There is one thing that my fellow Muslims still fail to acknowledge: the allegedly ‘Islamic’ extremism is bad because it ruins our image, NOT because it violates our rights as human beings to be treated humanely. Denying the existence of ‘Islamic’ extremism is one big step. But, it is not enough.

Online, the least you can do is to like AND share every single positive article and video about Muslims. You also have to write hate comments against articles and videos that portray Muslims in negative lights, accuse them of anti-Muslim bigotry if you have to! Who cares if those articles and videos are truthful or not? Who cares if there are actual victims of extremism? Why the fuck should I care about their slaughter? Why the fuck should care about the survivors scarred for life?

Truth and morality are not important! Good PR is the most important thing and will always be! It is literally everything!

If every Muslim does as I say, the myth of ‘Islamic’ extremism would be gone for good.

*takes off the mask*

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I am a Muslim… and I love Imam Tawhidi

*puts on a mask*

Why? Because I am a self-hating Muslim. I love how he will do anything to pander to anti-Muslim factions. He supports Trump’s travel bans that wrongfully target certain predominantly-Muslim countries. He supports far-right political figures who hate Islamic extremism because it is Islamic, not because it is a form of extremism. Heck, he even espouses the dishonestly-defined version of Taqiyya, therefore convincing the bigots even more that the peaceful majority is a myth. I love stripping myself of dignity.

In fact, I believe that every self-respecting Muslim should be self-hating. We Muslims must love receiving hatred from anyone who wish for our extermination. We must love the idea of being fascists’ token Muslims. We must love the prospect of sucking bigots’ wet dicks.

We must love the prospect being put down as subhumans!

*takes off the mask*

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No, I am not Charlie

Two years since the Charlie Hebdo massacre and I still refuse to wholeheartedly declare I am Charlie.

Why? Because I believe condemnation of violence does not command us to ideologically align ourselves with the victims. Yes, I am offended by the publication’s mean-spirited vilification of my Islamic faith and fellow Muslims. But, in spite of my hurt feelings, I still cannot find any moral justification for the killings whatsoever. Cynicism has yet to kill my sense of humanity.

If I have to choose a slogan, I would choose I am Ahmed instead. Apart from Ahmed being similar to my last name (albeit with a different spelling), it is also the first name of the Muslim police officer slain by the terrorists. A Muslim died while defending the publication who derided his faith. I cannot see myself enlisting to any law enforcement agencies. But, I should thrive to be just like him, defending everyone’s right to express themselves, no matter how horrendous their thoughts are.

But, some people think my view is not good enough. In fact, people have accused of me supporting the massacre. They believe that my refusal to call myself Charlie makes me an apologist of terrorism. A violence-loving, freedom-hating extremist. I am not sure about you, but I find the accusation blatantly problematic. Hypocritical, to be exact. Hypocritical in various ways.

First, the supporters of Charlie Hebdo love to call themselves freedom lovers because they defend blasphemy. Just like many self-proclaimed freedom-lovers, they try to silence the critics of the blasphemers. How? By smearing, of course. They fail to realise that freedom of speech is a two-way street; it is not a prerogative of the blasphemous ones.

Second, they also see themselves as the humanity-loving. Yeah, no. Their reaction to statements like mine show the complete opposite. They imply that any resemblances other than simply being humans are prerequisite for sympathy. They imply that they would not sympathise with any victims of violence if they are different from them. Humanity-loving my ass.

I just realise something. Besides the slandering and two-facedness, Charlie Hebdo supporters are also guilty of something else: glorification. Actually, glorification is such a soft word. Idolatry is more like it.

Somehow, its staff getting massacred makes them worthy of worship. Somehow, that tragedy makes it the most honourable publication in the world. Getting killed by extremists instantly makes you a hero. Yeah, again, no.

Should I even bother to dismantle this faulty logic? If you are assassinated because your works count as activism, you die a hero! If you are assassinated because you were being offensive just because you could, you don’t die a hero! Not every victim of acts of inhumanity is virtuous. Harsh, but true to life. Do you seriously believe being a victim elevates your moral standing? Your morality is defined by how you treat others, not the other way around.

Okay, I need to end this soon this before I give my detractors more dishonest ammunition.

Once again, I still condemn the killing. But, I am still not Charlie and probably never will. It does not negate my condemnation of the violence. In fact, it shows my sincerity. It shows how I still have a sense of humanity for anyone, even for people I deeply loathe.

A brief description of the outlooks of Indonesian Muslims

Based on a university assignment I made recently. Improved and translated from Indonesian:

Ahok is charged with two years of imprisonment for a blasphemy he was never guilty of. Habieb Rizieq, who blatantly and clearly insulted the Christian faith and desires for Sharia imposed on every citizen, has yet to be touched by the anti-blasphemy legislation. Worse, Ahok is considered to be the nation’s divider and Rizieq to be a unifier by some Muslims.

Unfortunately, this injustice is not surprising. First of all, Islam is the biggest religion here, venerated by 87.18% of the population; so easy for the majority to rule. I obtained the data from a census published by the Central Agency on Statistics (BPS) in 2010. Minority religions were also mentioned. But, the balance in religious studies was not always embraced.

Overall statistic studies of the whole country published in 2016 mentioned the numbers of government-run Madrasahs (Islamic schools) along with their students and teachers; there are also numbers for the people who did the Hajj (pilgrimage). Same thing with the 2015 and 2014 publications. The studies were executed to comprehend different aspects of the country’s life, including its ‘key socio-demographic’ characteristics, as stated in the introduction page of every said publication.

Demographic studies should include every single section of a society, not just the majority ones. Other religious groups are not mentioned at all while the study of the Muslim one is quite in-depth. The Indonesian government seems to treat the others like step-children. Maybe I look petty for making a big deal out of statistical researches. But, that lack of impartiality is also shown in the government’s administrative works.

From its name alone, the ministry of religious affairs should serve all religious groups. But, in reality, they only serve Muslims. The ministry is being ruled by Muslims, including the ministerial rank. If they only want to serve Muslims, at least they change their name to ministry of Islamic affairs. No need to be deceptive.

Of course, I cannot completely accuse the government of making Islam the golden child. Besides it, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism are all officially recognised. Despite being dominated by Muslims, the ministry of religious affairs still possesses organisations that represent minority religions. Publicly-funded universities affiliated with other religions can still be found. Ministerial positions can still be held by non-Muslims. Despite the tendency to be religiously one-sided and to mix religion with politics, the Indonesian government has yet to be tainted by Islamist ideology.

I also believe the problem can also be found on the people. In the post-Soeharto era, Syahrin Harahap notices how the Indonesian society possesses three distinct images: harmonious, open and fair interreligious image, secular, liberal and western-oriented image and conflicting, in tension and terroristic image. (2006, p. 32-43).

The observation shows how a nation, especially one as diverse as Indonesia, always consists of distinct collectives. But, at the same times, those said images are very black and white and I find that unnerving.

Indonesian liberals are not thought to prioritise harmony even when they openly oppose religious sectarianism; Ulil Abshar Abdalla even supports the Ahmadis. We also forget about how, as I mentioned earlier, Habieb Rizieq is being praised by so-called harmony-loving citizens. The mask we wear is often deceitful.

Rationality, which is embraced by some Muslim thinkers, is considered to be a highly-western thing. Such assumption gives the impression that rationality is antithetical to eastern cultures and most Muslims are easterners themselves.

Rationality is also not considered as a factor for openness. Rational thinking is just a path towards blasphemy, a path towards atheism. As a result, many Muslims see it as something that we should refrain ourselves from embracing.

We also forget about how popular the western culture is in Indonesia, even among citizens who oppose liberalism. Even the Islamic pop culture is highly westernised, with its commercialism and hedonism that attract conservatives’ distaste (Saluz 2009).

In addition, a load of preachers have attained celebrity status. Every sermon is a generous money generator. They also have appeared in countless commercials. In many ways, they are not unlike the televangelists from the United States, a western country.

Those liberal thinkers are considered too westernised because they studied in western universities. People with such petty assumption don’t realise how modern Islamic education in eastern countries is based on the western one; Islamic universities in the east have followed the results of the Bologna Process. Oh and Gus Dur graduated from University of Baghdad and Quraish Shihab from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. They studied in Arab education institutes. Why weren’t they accused of being too Arabised?

Besides accused of being too western, the liberals are also labelled as secular, despite how open they are about their religious beliefs, how often they give religious sermons and how some of them teach in Islamic educational institutes. Besides, can we guarantee all of those opponents of liberal Islam pray five times a day, do the zakat, fast every Ramadhan, abstain from alcohol and pre-marital sex?

The images shown by Syahrin Harahap, despite referring to the ones foreigners see, also exist among Indonesians. We love to stamp black and white labels on each other, not realising how humans are more complex than we like to imagine. I also feel Syahrin Harahap used the wrong approach to this issue.

I appreciate how he acknowledges Muslims’ extremism problem. But, at the same time, he was an apologist; he seemed to blame the rise of fundamentalism on forces from outside the Muslim world by stating that Islam is an inherently peaceful religion.

As a Muslim myself, I would love to believe that. But, in reality, those extremists genuinely believe their views are completely aligned with Islamic teachings. We should accept the possibility of our beloved religions being far from perfect.

I do agree with his proposal that teaching globalisation studies to students will help combating domestic extremism (p. 43). It is true the ideology was born overseas and spread from one country to another. But, the academic discipline does not cover the whole issue; it does not study how something spreads internally once it reaches a country.

I propose for all Indonesian Muslims, including the moderate ones, to take a look at themselves in the mirror regarding how we decipher Islamic teachings and how we treat our fellow human beings, especially ones whose outlooks contradict ours. Even though the moderates incite neither violence nor discrimination and will call out anyone who do so, their tendency to make infidels out of liberals and unwillingness to admit Islam as the inspiration for extremism have already given birth to possibly long-lasting negative consequences.

Like it or not, the moderates are indirectly responsible for the injustice that befalls Ahok.

 

 

Badan Pusat Statistik 2010, Hasil sensus penduduk 2010: kewarganegaraan, suku bangsa, agama dan bahasa sehari-sehari penduduk Indonesia, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2014, Statistik Indonesia 2016, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2015, Statistik Indonesia 2015, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2016, Statistik Indonesia 2016, BPS, Jakarta.

Harahap, S 2016, ‘The image of Indonesia in the world: an interreligious perspective’, The IUP journal of international relations, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 30-44.

Saluz, CN 2009, ‘Youth and pop culture in Indonesian Islam’, Studia Islamika, vol. 16. no. 2, pp. 215-242.

The vanity of material rites

As a child, I used to find Ramadhan extremely gruelling. It was very easy for me to feel hungry and thirsty. Just add blazing tropical sun for extra torment. But, that was all physical. Emotionally, it was a different story.

Even though my body was drained of any will to live, I had this inexplicable emotional satisfaction. It was the same feeling that I experience after watching a motion picture work with conflict-afflicted, yet heart-warming story (I did say ‘inexplicable’, didn’t I?). Every fast break was sublime. And then, the end of the month arrived.

Idul Fitri, which is the Indonesian name of Eid al-Fitr, marks the end of Ramadhan. It is meant to celebrate the end of the arduous fasting period. But, the most important of all, it is meant for us to forgive and be forgiven by our fellow human beings. A wonderful climax for such sublime spiritual feeling. Then, growing up happens.

The older I get, the less I experience such feeling. Criticalness and cynicism are slowly killing it. I’ve become doubtful of the faithfulness of any positive emotions that pop culture wants us to feel. They are like sugary shells: they can be left out hollow or filled with snake venom. Then, I dragged that attitude up even further to other aspects of life, including religions.

Let me start with fasting. For believers, fasting is meant to show what hunger and thirst feel like, it is an act of self-restraint, a test of our will power. Supposedly, an ability in getting through the process is a sign of spiritual achievement. For many years, I was imbecile enough to believe that. What happens at fast breaks is anything but spiritual.

A fast break is what it really sounds like: the time to break from fasting. A few glasses of drinks and a tiny assortment of snacks, accompanied by our gratefulness for the simplest sustenance we can get. Main meal to be eaten later on. At least, that’s my ideal fast break. Most other people are of no integrity.

For them, it’s all about self-indulgence. Greasy snacks and diabetically-sweet drinks. In total, the ‘snacks’ equal to two highly-calorific and innutritious meals; oh and there’s still a main meal afterwards. There’s no gratitude, only perverse sense of duty to partake in gluttony. Fasting is just a mere chore. Oh and the gluttony doesn’t stop there.

Most religious holidays I know always involve feasts. They are meant to encourage gatherings with everyone, especially with our loved ones. From my experiences, foods can bring people together, even the ones that don’t always meet eye to eye. But, it is naive to expect that during Eid.

Once again, we feel obligated to engage in lecherous food orgies. Most of us only visit houses that provide buffets. Whether we are close or not to the hosts, that doesn’t matter. What matters is the food they provide. Food and money in green envelopes to buy new clothes. Oh, remember when I said how Idul Fitri is about forgiveness? Yeah, just another lie.

We ask our loved ones for forgiveness, they ask us for the same thing…and then, we proceed to wrong each other literally seconds later. Our lyrical words are nothing but showmanship, hiding a nature so malicious that Satan would be thrown off his balance. Living in a gratifying make-believe is more important living in sincerity. Oh, and speaking about dishonesty…

I am very much guilty of the ‘sins’ I mentioned. I see Ramadhan as a mere chore and gluttony is the only reason why I love Eid. In fact, I’ve been (almost proudly) inconsiderate towards many rituals for quite some time. So, I am not entitled to be (self-) righteous about them here. But, I am entitled to be outraged by how we still put confidence in the claimed spiritual benefits.

Ramadhan fails to encourage self-restraint and appreciation of the most basic sustenance. Idul Fitri fails to nurture genuine familial bonds among us. Enforcing compulsion to rituals is impotent in cultivating their supposed benefits. In fact, as I’ve said before, they’ll become mere chores and additional justifications for hedonism. We cannot achieve spirituality by solely immersing ourselves in the corporeal realms. Sounds reasonable enough? Well, not for the self-proclaimed enlightened ones.

They, the individuals who tyrannically equate rituals with spirituality, see themselves as the enlightened saints who have masterfully unraveled the divine they avow to dearly love when, in truth, they are utterly skin-deep organisms who commit sacrilege by stripping down the highly enigmatic and ethereal transcendence into meagre physicality.

But, for all of that, they’ve got the audacity to denounce us, the rituals loathers, of disgraceful sacrilege that they themselves are unabashedly guilty of. Naturally, what can one expect from ungodly self-admiring mortals of imaginary importance? Clearly, anything but humility and self-consciousness.

Okay, I need to wrap it up before I blow up my rant even more.

No, I am not saying that rituals are inherently worthless; regardless of my frustration with religious holidays, I still love some rituals like the daily Islamic prayers. What I am saying is……different strokes for different folks. No matter how cliched this idiom is, its merit still stands.

Your experiences are personally yours. Never ever force others, not even your fellow believers, to observe your favourite rituals, let alone shaming them for not feeling the same profundity. You are literally one human being among a sea of billions. Unless you suffer from a severe case of self-admiration, you cannot seriously think you are the sole bearer of sacred truth.

Also, is it appropriate to observe rituals for hedonism’s sake? It is a question I am not ready to answer yet. But, I am certain that it is inappropriate to dismiss the existence of hedonistic tendencies among the participants.

The tangibility of rituals is also a vulnerability against hedonism. There is no doubt some observances are deeply contemplative. But, you cannot pretend the ones purely motivated by worldly pleasures do not exist. Acknowledge that simply physical observances won’t enhance our celestial existence. Be honest, for God’s sake.

Oh, and I do not understand the hate for hedonism. Like, why? We live in a material world all the frickin’ time. Even the most pious among us have engaged in it more than once. Eating our favourite foods, having fun with family and friends. They are earthly pleasures. They are hedonistic. Hedonism is inevitable.

Those bad apples….

stock-photo-basket-of-apples-isolated-on-a-white-background-55809220

It seems everyone has an opinion about the Muslim world. Many believe that most Muslims are extremists. Some of them usually refer to stats based on a small sample of Muslims and snub other stats who show contradicting results. Either that or they use the fantabulously infallible evidences: the anecdotes; even evidences unearthed by thoroughly-executed scientific researches are nothing compared to personal experiences of individuals with filthy lenses.

Then, there’s another kind of bigots. They believe extremists are a tiny minority…which the peaceful majority are responsible for. They believe the entire Muslim world is a literal formal organisation, with subservient and well-connected members, complete with clear-cut ranks and lawful centralised authorities. What a wonderful smoking gun; now they have grounds to blame all Muslims. Conspiracies, always too good to be true, don’t they?

They refuse to admit that Muslims are, in fact, an actual religious group, consisting of distinct individual human beings that mostly aren’t affiliated with each other. We have an assortment of Islamic denominations, sub-denominations and movements which many of us refuse to join in.

We don’t acknowledge the same authorities. They can be celebrity clerics, organisations, ministers of religious affairs or even some obscure preachers who settle in some obscure mosques in obscure neighbourhoods or villages. Heck, many of us don’t even acknowledge any religious authorities at all; we are content with our private spirituality. Should I mention there are over a billion of us on earth? That would be a management catastrophe, wouldn’t it?

Those extremists are indeed venomous bad apples and ought to be taken care off. But, if you want to throw tantrums to Muslims, make sure they are actually guilty. Berate Muslims who are aware of extremism and yet do nothing about it. Berate Muslims who consciously empower its growth. There are lots of them to choose from.

But, it’s glaringly idiotic to think you can berate any random Muslims. Guilt by association is a real fallacy. If you don’t know how stupid that is, just imagine a person who blame every ingredient in the kitchen, including the sugar, for salting his food. For me, it’s less about stupidity and more about prejudice. But, that’s a topic for another time.

At this point, you probably think this article is all about Muslims. Well, to an extend, it is. But, my main concern here is more about the so-called collective guilt. For next example, I will discuss about the police. American police forces to be exact.

American right wingers are notorious for being liable of such fallacy. I do admit they are not the only culprits; even western leftists can succumb to idiocy (or prejudice). The reason why the Right infuriates me in this matter is their hypocrisy.

In the US in recent years, there is an increase in public awareness about police corruptness and brutality. Outrage is loudly expressed. Demands for accountability also increases. People don’t want legal immunity for anyone with uniforms. Then, the Right chime in to defend.

They dismiss the concern as nothing but paranoia, the dignified outrage as nothing but tantrum. They believe there’s nothing wrong with the police forces; cases of corrupt and violent officers are isolated incidents. Just a few bad apples, they say…

No, they are not just a few bad apples. Police forces are actual formal organisations with obedient members, clear-cut ranks and centralised authorities; you know, attributes that the Right unfoundedly think the entire Muslim world has. With such characteristic in place, it’s very definite that a few cases of immorality can be blamed on the entire collectives.

For every few sinful officers, there are approving colleagues, indulgent or sinful superiors, slacking internal affairs officers, inept trainers and recruiters, or a combination of any of them. They all have the legal power and duty to thwart the diseases’ growth. But then, how can function when they’re already infected? They would rather quarantine the healthy ones instead.

I know some of you (if people read my works at all) will start accusing Muslims of silence. Usually, I’d tell you lot to google first before vomiting oral excrement. But, in the end, when you do admit our lack of silence, you will always say we aren’t doing enough. How can our efforts pay off when we’re not supported?

In predominantly-Muslim countries, the authorities love to dismiss the concern of pluralist Muslims while being too lenient towards the extremist ones. Worse, they may even prosecute those pluralist Muslims instead. In the case of Central Asia, the authorities implement anti-extremism legislation so discriminatory, it would potentially affect the innocents. In the west, it is not any better.

Western Muslims are frequently ordered to report extremist individuals. When they do (and many of them will without being ordered to), their words of concern are dismissed as something of no importance. Therefore, the empowerment of extremists is also the fault of non-Muslim westerners.

I explicitly stated that Guilty by Association is a fallacy. Well, that applies to every group on earth, including the police. Unlike the entire Muslim world, it’s logically sound to condemn entire police forces. But, like individual Muslims, it’s logically unsound to berate any random police officers you encounter; their innocence and guilt cannot be assumed.

An individual is literally one person who has his/her own thoughts and feelings. A collective consists of different and contrasting individuals; in some cases, one or a few individuals may completely reign over the other members, influencing the group mentality. Individuals are not collectives and collectives are not individuals.

Frankly, I’m not surprised the American Right embrace this double standard. I mean, they are conservatives. Fearing and demonising the ‘others’ is literally one of their hobbies. They also have a fetish for people in uniforms; they commit a fallacy called Honour by Association, which is also a good topic for another time.

Yes, I just stereotyped other American conservatives. Well, fair is fair. If Muslims can be stereotyped, why can’t we stereotyped them?

Oh and before I end this article, I have to defend Roman Catholics as well.

When anti-Muslim bigots think the Muslim world is a strict formal organisation, anti-religious bigots have the same in mind about every religious group! They literally believe that every single one has deacons, bishops, priests with worshippers on the lowest rank. They seriously base their judgment on skewed understanding of Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.

First of all, Roman Catholics are literally ONE religious group; them alone cannot be used to understand the entire global religious scenes.

Second, ordinary worshippers are indeed members of the church. But, they are not included in the church’s official strata.

Third, even if you include the priests, bishops and deacons to the entire Roman Catholics collective, it would still be an informal group of people. Contrary to popular belief, religious people -including Roman Catholics- can be rebellious. There are ordinary Roman Catholics who openly detest the church’s views; even high-ranking church officials can be deemed heretical by fellow believers. From my personal lens as a Muslim, some contemporary Roman Catholics seem to have mutual and very lax relationships with their priests; I wish Muslims share the same thing with our clerics.

Oh and anti-religious sentiment is also a good topic for another time.

Life under the crescent-bearing Garuda

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*puts on my personal lenses*

I was born and raised in Indonesia, a predominantly-Muslim country which also has the biggest Muslim population on earth. It has been hailed as a progressive Muslim. I beg the differ. First, the government only acknowledges six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. Native religions? Sikhism? Judaism? Our government is not secular -and kind- enough to recognise them. Too bad. Oh and Islam is the golden child.

There are publicly-funded Islamic universities; you won’t find non-Islamic religious ones funded by taxpayers. Formal events have brief Islamic prayers. Broadcasters air Islamic calls for prayer. Mosques can get away with their loudspeaker abuses. TV stations re-schedule their shows every Ramadhan. There are quite a few Islamic political parties. All presidents have always been Muslims. The ministry of religious affairs has always been dominated by Muslims. Of course, favouriting Islam makes us vulnerable to hardcore Islamic conservatism.

More Indonesians think women should wear hijab. Islamism is getting popular. Increasing religious bigotry and homophobia. Increasing anti-Semitism. Islamic moral police grow like fungi in wet seasons. Some universities are accused of letting extremists brainwashing students. More Indonesians think Islamic identity is inherently Arabic. Aceh has provincial Sharia. There are ISIS supporters. So much for being a progressive Muslim country, eh? Progressive haven it is not. So, it is right to call it an extremist one, right? Right? No, it is not.

Indonesia is admittedly heading the path towards extremism. But, it has yet to reach the destination. With female modesty, for example. Some workplaces ban hijab. Few female TV personalities wear hijab. Hijab is not enforced in some Islamic schools. Hijab is still seen as a backwarded cultural practice, not a religious one. Some hijabis are trend-followers, not devout believers. Okay, then. Hijab is not widely-accepted. How about atrocities against religious and sexual minorities?

Religious discrimination and homophobia are indeed rising. The former can be really violent at times. But, at the same time, the situation is not as horrific as claimed. We still have religious pluralism. Mind you that we still recognise other religions. Some regions are still predominantly-Christian and Bali is still predominantly-Hindu. In predominantly-Muslim ones, there are many non-Islamic places of worship and educational institutes; some Muslim parents send their kids to Christian schools. Non-Muslims have held high-ranking government positions. Indeed, all of our presidents have been Muslims. But then, all of them are also of Javanese descents; Javanisation is also an issue here. Our homophobia and anti-Semitism were born out of cultural conservatism; only now Islamic radicalism is a major factor. We were already homophobic and racist even when we were much more secular.

Secular. Yes, Indonesians can be secular, even some of the most devouted ones. From 2000 to 2004, I attended two Islamic schools. Despite the compulsory prayers and all-Muslim student body, the atmosphere was very secular; students openly enjoyed hedonistic entertainment and not all girls wore hijab. Our entertainment in general is very secular. Islamic one exists as a niche market. Islamic political parties flopped at the previous national election. Every time a netizen demands state Sharia, others would remind him/her (sometimes brutally) that Indonesia is a multi-religious country and has always been. The moral police here is like Westboro Baptist Church: widely-known and widely-hated. We still appreciate our Hindu and Buddhist heritages, like Garuda, our national symbol. Out of 34 provinces, only Aceh is Sharia-plagued. No, Aceh does not represent the entire country. Okay, I need to stop.

I admit that Indonesia is a wrecked ship that needs massive renovation inside out. Government’s permissiveness of radical Islam, centuries-old racism and homophobia, corruption, horrendous education, endangered heritages, fragile economy, anti-intellectualism, I can go on all day! But, likening Indonesia to Saudi Arabia is just delusional. You cannot cherry pick information that pleasure your prejudice g-spot and pretend you are in touch in reality.

I admit that we don’t know everything about our own countries. But, that doesn’t mean foreigners can make shits up. A foreigner who has never been to Indonesia claimed he knew everything about it; when I said “everything”, I meant only the bad ones. Where did he get his info? His cherry-picking of carefully-selected news articles and his Indonesian friends of dubious existence. He swallowed their words easily like an obedient child. I refuted his friends’ claims and he accused me of blindness. But, I should not be angered by him and his likes. Their intellectual dishonesty drastically lower their position in the rank of creatures and their brains usage.

Update: this article was written last year, long before Ahok’s blasphemy case started. Now that he is wrongfully convicted, Indonesia is heading even closer to religious darkness. But still, Indonesia is still far from being Saudi Arabia. Pakistan, maybe. But, not Saudi Arabia. Again, the Muslim world is diverse.

Another update: Recently, there was a news about the opening of the first Catholic state university in Indonesia. The first Catholic state university, NOT the first non-Islamic religious one. A quick google search showed me that there are a handful of Protestant, Buddhist and Hindu higher education institutes in the country. Even though the ministry of religious affairs is still annoying dominated by Muslims, it seems I really underestimated the religious section of Indonesian government.

 

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Open the dictionary for “moderate”

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Extremist Muslims want to behead you while the moderates want them to behead you.

Literally what many netizens believe. It’s expressed in comments and memes, often accompanied with photos of scary Muslims. I’ve spend most of my life living among moderates and that’s a dangerous slander. In fact, violence really offend them. You may as well spit on their faces (arousing for some of you, I am sure). It took me too damn long to unearth the cause.

One day, I found an article with this headline: Woman Beheaded in Broad Daylight in ‘Moderate’ Muslim Nation While Police Watch.

The Muslim nation it refers to is Saudi Arabia. Yes, that devilishly-medieval, everyone-must-be-Muslims, women-must-wear-tents Wahhabi nation is considered ‘moderate’.

I know the apostrophes are meant to be sarcastic. But, it implied that some people actually believe that. What kind of dead-from-the-neck-up dimwits are they? The kind who needs to learn proper English.

‘Not radical or extreme’ is what the ‘moderate’ means! A moderate Muslim would never justify any kinds of violence. A moderate Muslim would never sympathise with Islamists and Jihadists. Ever. No, I’m committing neither ‘No Scotsman Fallacy’ nor political correctness. I am not being apologist. What I’m doing right now is presenting proper understanding of the word.

But then, I doubt it’s simply about poor language comprehension. Genuinely clueless, they are not. They know what they are doing. They possess genuine hatred. Period. No commas. No buts. They will do anything to justify their hatred. That includes making shits up.

And succeeded, they have. The so-called ‘dangerous moderates’ is already a widespread idea. That and the dishonestly-misinterpreted and exclusively-Shia Taqiyya. PB and J for the prejudiced ones.

Don’t you dare criticise them, though. They think they’re entitled to do anything. Their rights to hate are more important than reasons and truths. That’s the essence of freedom, they say. Calling them out is the same as silencing them, they believe. Bigots sure have big sense of entitlement, don’t they?

I’m not a moderate. In fact, I consider myself a progressive (-wannabe) Muslim. Ideologically, I clash with moderate Muslims. Many are still brazenly unreasonable, homophobic, sexist and too easily offended. They still refuse to admit that Islamic extremism has anything to do with Islam.

Far from being progressive. They shouldn’t be the anti-extremism front line. I believe they will ruin our war against extremism.

But still, they are not violent. They are horrified by violence, probably way more than the people who demonise them. I even dare to say many are pacifists. For them, the idea of ‘sinners’ must be dealt with inhumane brutality is inherently ungodly.

Obviously, the moderates’ own bigotry shouldn’t be tolerated. In fact, I believe we should encourage them to be more progressive. As they are peaceful, it is probably easier to encourage (not ‘force’) progressivism to grow in their minds and hearts. Maybe I am just in the clouds. But, I do believe they have strong likelihood to make excellent allies.