This reminded me of an occasion when we were chatting with an Ayurvedic doctor in Bombay some time in 1981 and he said "Islam is a good religion, it's a shame about the Muslims". This statement was attributed to George Bernard Shaw but one cannot be too certain.
Then I remembered reading a quote by a Japanese convert : "I'm so glad I became a Muslim before I came to Malaysia".
While the ulamas are reminding us of how we can multiply our pahala (with bonus plus plus) during Ramadan, it seems a good time to talk about the multiplication of our generosity and our appetite both worldly and non-worldly.
Take this article by Cheng Sim:
|Gorging yourself for Ramadan.|
Muslim punters are titillated with -
1. "Kampung Selections" like gulai kawah kambing, opor daging hitam, ayam goreng serai. [Adult $70, Child (5-12) $40] You can also select bubur lambuk, pasembur, kerabu, daging salai, masak lemak pucuk paku, ayam dara goreng serai. [Adult $59, Child (6-12) $39, Senior Citizen (60+) $49] They also provide concessions for your maks, abahs, and Atoks - that's sweet!
2. We can now move upmarket to the super-sized-SUV clientele. On offer is "Masakan Bonda Kembali" of daging salai masak lemak cili padi Negri Sembilan, kari kepala ikan Pulau Pinang, sambal ikan bilis tempoyak and petai Perak, udang masak kailo Melaka, ayam masak tomato Kedah. [Adult $98, Child (below 11) $69, Senior Citizen (60+) $60]
3. And now for our fellow brothers-and -sisters-in-Islam with deeper pockets, you can partake of dishes from a special themed cuisine featuring 6 spices like black pepper, candlenut, cardamon, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise. No wonder our youngsters (well, the younger X generation and millenials) look lost when you mention lada hitam, bua keras, pelaga, cingkeh, kayu manis and bunga lawang !!!! You can fill your gob with ikan patin masak tempoyak, red curry beef with fruit, lamb varuval and ikan bakar percik. [Adult $138, Child (5-12) $69 ]
4. But what can be more enticing in this holy month than this almost Bacchanalian (sans liquor) feast featuring 400 dishes and 10 live stations ( apa 'tu live station ?)! What is on offer? You can plump for stuffed quail briyani, or asam pedas oxtail soup, grilled chicken and roasted goat! [Adult $188, Child $98]
And here comes the hallmark of 21st century Malaysia. You are always assured of CHOICES - in almost everything you want and do, anything goes! Social media will allow you to frame, record and annotate your preferences, your very own wishes and desires. (Where I come from, you take what's given to you - no 'yes' or 'no' or 'buts''. I guess that's why Ash is so critical - tak sporting, lah )
At the end of this Ramadan feature - you get to vote.
|What about Mama's (and Papa's) and Atok's home-cooking? (That image of a slice of bread encircling the kitten's head is obscene. Bread is food. Food is reziki from Allah.)|
Old Malaysia, New Malaysia - the inhabitants seem to live in some kind of cloud cuckoo land. They (especially our Muslim brethren) seem to have a blind spot and cocoon themselves from the dire reality of their fellow human beings outside of Malaysia - of their human rights to food and shelter and security.
Let's do some number crunching. From last year's Islamic Relief Appeal for Ramadan .....
|£75 = $404. This comes to $135 per family.|
How much does an average Malaysian Muslim family of mother, father and four children spend for a single Buffet Buka Ramadan?
Choice 1 - $274, Choice 2 - $472, Choice 3 - $552 and Choice 4 - $768.
$274 can feed 2 families, $472 for 3 families, $552 for 4 families and the whopping $768 can give sustenance to 5 1/2 families. For thirty days.
The providers and sustainers of Buffet Ramadan should choke on that comparison!
Furthermore, in fulfilling the Hajj, the fifth and final Pillar of Islam, Muslims from Malaysia expend ......
|Some Malaysians can afford multiple pilgrimages for the Hajj and the Umrah.|
Islamic Relief, in its Appeal during Ramadan last year presented these needs and the costs involved.
|£780 = $4206 for a water pump. Malaysians and Malaysian Muslims do not bear such hardship.|
|£1,905 = MYR 10,274. The Malaysian Health Service is one of the top five in the world. A visit to a Government clinic will set you back by $2 ( 37p).|
|£640 = $3454. As for schools in Malaysia, we may not have the best but all our children have a school to go to with all the necessary facilities - except this year they have to swop the age-old white shoes for black.|
Nearer home we have our own needy but we only tend to make a flying visitation during Ramadan and Hari Raya - there seems to be no inspiration for Muslim communities and the Islamic bureaucracy to provide a long-term, continuous helping hand for their poor and disadvantaged. "It's the Government's responsiblity" they say.
Just recently this story appeared in The Mole :
Perhaps this account may open up the minds and hearts and wallets and banking accounts of Muslims in Malaysia especially for those intent on collecting "brownie points" in this holy month of Ramadan?
A few months ago, The Mole wrote a poignant story about a transit home for "aged" orphans who lost their founder Che Azrul Rozi Che Rozi who died at 35. Che Azrul was a true practising Muslim who cared for his fellow humans far, far above and beyond the ibadat-pahala-dosa syndrome. He puts all our religious Ulamas and scholars, and all other Muslims (including AsH) to shame.
I looked up that story again :
........ and was pleased to know that with the help of Wan Azizah, the Minister for Women, Family and Community, they are now safe and sound and back on their feet. Thank you Zaidi Azmi for connecting us with what it should mean to be a Malay and a Muslim.
But being such a Malay and a Muslim is not only for Ramadan. It is for all time and for others far beyond our kith and kind and kin.
Peace to all for this Ramadan.