Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I touched a dog

There, I've said it.

Does that make me a bad person? Did attending the now infamous 'I want to touch a dog event' make me a bad Muslim? Does it indicate that I "menghina Islam" (as claimed on the front page of a daily)?

I haven't logged into my facebook account for a few days, so I was blissfully ignorant of the strong backlash against the event in social media. But I somehow sensed that things were not quite right when a family member whatsapp-ed a screenshot of the event and asked "apa perlu kempen ni?", not knowing that I had attended the event myself.

So I explained to her why I attended. And now, after reading the facebook posts of several close friends who also disapprove of the event, I think it's incumbent on me to explain myself again.

So readers, if you consider me your friend, please, hear me out. Put your preconceptions aside and weigh in my side of the story:

I first got to know of the event via fb (where else?) when somebody posted this link (http://bit.ly/1tEN58b). I then watched the video mentioned and was left feeling ashamed and outraged as well. How could we treat the most vulnerable people in our society with such disregard? That runs contrary to the teachings of Islam; We are supposed to be compassionate towards one another, especially those most in need of assistance in our society. However, our actions, as depicted in the video showed otherwise.

Though I was upset by what was shown in the video (see from 7:30 onwards), I wondered: What would I have done if I were in their place? I'm scared of dogs too, due to life-long conditioning. Most likely, I would have reacted in the same way: I would have jumped aside and avoided the blind man and his guide dog like a plague, instead of helping him. That scenario got me upset and ashamed of myself.

Thus I clicked 'Going' on the event page. The event was conceived to help people who are fearful of dogs, overcome their fear so that perhaps, in the future, they can do the right thing when they encounter situations similar to the ones in the video.

To me, that was the whole purpose of attending.
It WASN'T to showcase how "liberal-minded" I am.
It WASN'T an act of provocation.
I WASN'T willfully menajiskan myself.
I WASN'T about to keep dogs as pets, and most importantly,
I DIDN'T go with the intention of "menghina Islam".

God knows that I'm not a good Muslim, but I do try to be.

For those who disapprove of the event and have made their feelings known, please don't be too quick in passing judgments. Don't jump to conclusions by the sensationalised headlines that you read. Do not immediately assume that the organiser and the attendees have bad intentions and hidden agendas. You don't know what are in people's hearts so don't. Just don't.

One of the things that I read on my newsfeed was this: "Lepas ni kempen pegang babi pula?". I don't know whether to laugh or cry at reading that. Seriously?

Dear readers, even after reading this explanation, and watching the video that started it all, you still disagree with the event, fine. Let's agree to disagree. Just don't label and accuse people indiscriminately with hurtful words. That's not a very Muslim-thing to do.

The whole episode reminded me of this beautiful quote from the movie Chocolate:
"Listen, here's what I think. I think that we can't go around measuring our goodness by what we don't do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create and who we include."