Friday 1 March 2013

“Silence is easy”

Found this article on the Net. It is about an issue that true dog lovers in Malaysia face and can only understand the degree of discrimination the canine species faces in this country.There should be more Malays like the author.

Why are the Muslims of this country (particularly the Malay Muslim group) so filled with hate toward the canine species?

By now, many Malaysians are aware of Pak Mie and his heroic deeds of rescuing and caring for over 500 dogs in Alor Setar, Kedah.

Most of us are amazed by his spirit, and have even rallied together to help him in his cause.

Yet a note that keeps recurring in the articles and videos that feature Pak Mie and his wife is one that disgusts me, as I’m sure it has for anyone with a heart.

Despite Pak Mie’s purest intentions, a majority of his Malay community has shunned and condemned him, labelling him as an infidel and morally corrupt.

Why are the Muslims of this country (particularly the Malay Muslim group) so filled with hate toward the canine species? Growing up, I was ill-informed and learned that Muslims weren’t allowed to own dogs.

I later understood that this was a simplified version of the teachings, and untrue. Dogs are considered to be dirty, and there are specific ways to cleanse oneself according to Islam when touching a dog when it’s wet or its feces and urine.

However, it was and had never been haram for a Muslim to own a dog.

Why the silence?

Yet it is common for many Malaysians to see dogs getting beaten, objects or hot boiling water thrown at them, and I’ve even heard of cases where razor blades are stuffed into sausages and fed to the dogs.
A friend of mine had his dog poisoned by his Malay neighbour. Dogs aren’t just considered a nuisance by this group of people; they’re a target for violence.

Still, what angers me most is not the cruelty of these misguided Malay Muslims. What makes me angry is the silence of other Muslim dog lovers.

I know there are plenty of us out there who not only is against cruelty towards dogs, but are also Muslims who own dogs. Yet whenever such disgusting acts take place, where is your voice?
Why must we keep our ownership a secret? We fear judgment and so we leave the fight for the rights of these animals to the non-Muslim community.

Last October, I lost my six-month-old Shetland Sheepdog to a hit and run. We were coming back from our morning walk, and his leash fell out of my hand. He ran back to the park near our house.

When I caught up to him, his dying body was twitching in the middle of the road, his head soaked in blood. As I cradled my baby, neighbours rushed to my side. I was touched by their assistance- one ran back to her house to get some blankets, another went to get a bag, and two other dog owners walked me home, comforting me. I am forever grateful to them for their kindness.

Jaqen was a very friendly dog. He was popular among the kids and other dog owners at our park, and would show off his ‘fetching’ skills when we played ball.

But I recall little kids who played with him asking me “Are you Malay?”, and upon my reply would say “My mother says Malays cannot have dogs.”

I would patiently correct each misinformed child but I was annoyed at how parents nonchalantly pass this information to their children.

It’s bad enough you hate dogs; must you also teach your children to do the same?

Religion as excuse

It’s not enough to punish those who are cruel to dogs. We need to make them see not all Muslims hate dogs.

We need them to stop using religion as an excuse for their crimes. We need to show our support to people like Pak Mie, and we need to make it loud and clear.

We need to work together with bodies like SPCA and other animal rescuers by reaching out to the community to educate the people on this issue, from both moral and religious standpoints.

Start young, go to the schools and get the teachers to participate as well. Teach the children that all animals should be treated with kindness and respect.

We also need to have stricter laws on animal cruelty. As it stands, the price of the fine for such crimes is way too little to make a difference.

Finally, if we can’t all devote our lives toward rescuing animals, the least we can do is to lend a hand to people like Pak Mie who spends all of his time and savings in his effort to make this world a better place. He cannot do this alone.

Let’s start by speaking up. I am Muslim. And I love dogs.

Elza Irdalynna writes about art, love, and other things she pretends to understand.
She is also an FMT columnist.

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