Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Malaysian Assalamualaikum Controversy

"The greeting is sensitive to some groups of Muslims. In any religion, there are extremists, moderates, liberals or conservatives groups. Although, both Azhar and me belongs to neither of those groups, we are still a group of individuals who believe it is improper for a non-Muslim to use the greeting."

Arif Shah Haji Omar Shah,
Seberang Jaya state assemblyman

The above quote was his explanation for taking offense when an Opposition assemblyman, Jason Ong Khan Lee, started a public speech with the Arabic (and traditionally Muslim) greeting: "Assalamualaikum" which translates to "peace be upon you." It means the same and serves the same function as the Hebrew "Shalom aleichem".

Arif Shah is gnashing his teeth about it and so is his UMNO comrade, Azhar Ibrahim. And the other little UMNO-bots who were present are also raging with righteous Islamic anger over being wished peace by this dirty, fucking kafir politician who does not belong to their fucking party. That's the short of it.

arif shah and azhar ibrahim
That agonised man in white in the picture on the left is Arif Shah. Azhar Ibrahim is ye olde bloke in the right.

This is a crazy déjà vu-ish repeat of that ridiculous controversy last year over the use of the word Allah© by the Catholic Herald in the Malay translation of their publications (which I wrote about, if you recall), demonstrating what total oversensitive gits a lot of Malaysian Muslims really are. Anyway, the issue grew to the degree that it was publicised on Al Jazeera for the rest of the global ummah to point and laugh at our collection of illiterate fundamentalist hicks laying claims on a language they don't even speak. It doesn't take a freaking genius to predict that something of a similar nature is almost certainly going to crop up again - because like bad stereotypes, they totally didn't learn anything from the last fiasco. Not one neuron smarter, and damn proud of it they are, guv'nor.

Also note how I casually used "Assalamualaikum" in my signature in that article and none of the Muslim commenters present said I shouldn't do so. It's as if this whole debacle was, oh-me-gosh, fucking made up on the spot!

So accusations aside, what did the Qur'an and Hadith actually say about non-Muslims using the salam as a secular greeting? Did Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbid it? Did he decree all good Muslims must be super offended when the kuffar do not know their rightful place and dare wish them peace in good faith?

Nope, I found nothing of that nature. What I did find is this hadith which can be interpreted as an injunction against Muslims initiating salam to Jews and Christians,

Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Do not give the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) the greeting first. Force them to the narrowest part of the road."

Apparently, a lot of Muslim scholars said that the salam is a greeting of honour and a non–Muslim, a kafir, does not deserve to be honoured thus. It's okay, I'm used to being thought of as subhuman by religious people all my life anyway. And no, don't ask me what "the narrowest part of the road" is. I also don't know what is north of the North Pole or the sound of one hand clapping. It's all too zen for me.

But that's not all. Surah An-Nisa' verse 86 has this to say,

"And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with one better than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner]. Indeed, Allah is ever, over all things, an Accountant."

So in summary, it may or may not be okay to wish a kafir peace and blessings on one's own initiative, but it is believed that a Muslim must return whatever greetings given to them - particularly the salam, even when an infidel offers it. Well known 7th-century Sunni theologian, Imam Hasan al-Basri reportedly said, "Initiating the saying of salam is voluntary, but replying to the greeting of salam is compulsory." Ismail ibn Kathir, a supposedly great Muslim Muhaddith, Faqih, historian, and commentator agreed that what Hasan al-Basri said is the unanimous position of all scholars.

The only real dispute in Islam-dom is precisely how a Muslim should respond to a kafir's greetings. Should a good Allah-fearing Muslim simply say "Wa'alaikum" (and upon you too) or go full "Wa'alaikumsalam" (and peace be upon you)? The jury's still out on that. Of course, greetings IZ SERIOUZ BUSINEZZ in Islam and there are still reams and reams of text on this subject I have not brought up - and you can thank me now because I won't inflict them on you.

To round this up, famous 7th century Islamic jurist, mufassir, chemist, philosopher, psychologist, scientist, and theologian, Ibn Qayyim, said: "If it is confirmed that the non-Muslim citizen (Dhimmi) said salaam ‘alaikum’ (clearly), the dictates of the principles of Jurisdiction and the rulings/evidence of the Shariah is in line with replying with ‘wa ‘alayka as-salaam’ (and upon you be peace)..." He then go on to quote the same verse 86 of Surah An-Nisa' above to justify his stance.

Jason Ong Khan Lee
Jason Ong: Next time, I'm going with "Shabbath Shalom".

My point is, Jason Ong did nothing wrong and this is all just another nutty non-troversy raised by UMNO firebrands to get the dimmer demography of Muslims in Malaysia all stoked against their political rivals. Mufti of Perlis, Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, said 4 years ago that it's totally cool for non-Muslims to use the salam. PAS religious scholar, Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, agreed. Case closed.

So assalamualaikum, Arif and Azhar. Do kindly shut up and just accept niceties offered to you like grownups, mkay?

Rules of Greeting non-Muslims in Islam 
SunniPath, the Online Islamic Academy

Kibitzing kafir,
k0k s3n w4i


dori_lukey said...


Azygous said...

When will all these bullshit end?

How about those Moslem minister using "Vanakam" or when these jokers are in Thailand uing "Sawadee Khap"?

Considering the current situation, should we claim copyright for "Gong Xi Fa Cai", or "Gong Hei Fatt Choi" too? :)

These jokers better stop acting like some foolish kids and grow up.

Liz ^^, said...

Aiyo, why do they always like to make mountains out of anthills? Like, seriously. >.<

I like your take on it. :)

Anonymous said...

Are they sure they do not belong to this group - extremists, moderates, liberals or conservatives groups? They are totally contradiction 'emselves!~

Anonymous said...

contradictin, sorry..

k0k s3n w4i said...

dori_lukey: i like your like.

Azygous: it will end once we stop rewarding this sort of behaviour by repeatedly voting these yokels into our government. and they should have an iq test for every candidate running for public office, and only those scoring consistently above the 75th centile need apply.

Liz^^,: because molehills are easier to sensationalise to the general voting public than mountains such as our economy and education system which hardly anyone understands enough to give a fuck about.

Anonymous: they also can't count.