Darn those pesky evil spirits!
|Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com|
JULY 20 — I know so many Malaysian Muslims who do things that have no basis in Islam so much so that I find it scary to think that these are the thinking moderates of the religion.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Caveh Zahedi, a documentary filmmaker whose work I have admired for some time.
He was premiering his latest film, “The Sheik and I”, at the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival and I was, of course, there too.
The film, which was about his experience making a documentary for the Sheik of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, was very funny and over the top.
The film can’t run away from the fact that it deals with Islam, and at the end of the day, the film was banned for blasphemy and Zahedi was threatened with a fatwa.
But it isn’t the film I want to discuss here. During the question-and-answer session at the end of the premiere, someone asked Zahedi if he is a Muslim.
The son of Iranian immigrants to America, he said that he is a Muslim, but, not in the traditional sense. He referred to himself and his family as just superstitious Muslims.
“We never pray or observe any Muslim practices. All we do is kiss the Quran before going out every day so we won’t get into accidents,” he said.
That made me laugh and I couldn’t help but compare this to what happens in Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country.
One thing that many Malaysians do is to keep a copy of the Surah Yasin in the car so that they can avoid accidents, as if it offered an invisible force field.
Of course, the Surah Yasin is a holy scripture and it has spiritual meaning. But a printed copy of it in your car isn’t going to help much if you decide to check your Facebook page while you are behind the wheel!
It’s also just like how some parents of little babies who cry a lot at night get talismans or amulets with writings from Surah Al Kursi to help “protect” their babies.
Get real, folks! Or better yet, get educated! The baby is probably crying because he or she is either:
a. hungry, or
b. suffers from colic
The best solution to deal with these problems is to either:
a. feed the baby, or
b. give the baby a spoon of Gripe Water or rub some eucalyptus oil on his/her tummy
Listen to what Prophet Muhammad said,
“May Allah not fulfil the hopes of the one who wear a charm” and that “incantations, amulets and spells are syirik.”
Don’t start thinking the baby is crying because he or she has been possessed by evil spirits because you got back a little late in the evening from the park the day before.
Again, I’m going to take my cue from the Prophet who said,
“There is no ill-fortune in the month of Safar nor do evil spirits exist.”
The only real danger of being in the park too late at dusk is getting dengue from those pesky Aedes mosquito bites.
We can even refer to the Quran for this (about evil spirits, not Aedes mosquitoes!) because it says in Surah Al Hadid:
“To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; it is He who gives life and death; and He has power over all things.”
“No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before we bring it into existence; that is truly easy for Allah.”
No “evil spirit” is going to burst into flames if you start waving the Quran around like a mad man (those Indonesian horror movies you saw while growing up are just that — movies!).
What helps is to actually have faith, learn and understand what the Quran says and what the religion stands for.
And by doing so, you’ll know that Islam isn’t magic. It’s something much more. It’s rational, intellectual and quite cool actually.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.