The brutal attack against a transgender woman in Seremban just a week ago is a disturbing sign of times for Malaysia Baharu. The victim, who was attacked by eight men, suffered broken ribs, internal injuries and wounds on her back and head which required 7 stitches. The motive of the attack was simply disgust towards the LGBT community.
Sadly, this sort of assault is not something new. These hate driven hostilities have been happening in Malaysia for decades already, many have even resulted in deaths. It is therefore disturbing that in a Malaysia that aspires to leave no one behind in its progress, some minority groups have been betrayed in the promise of inclusivity.
What is probably most alarming about the incident in Seremban is the escalation of the issue itself, marked by the resignation of Numan Afifi, to the removal of the portraits of LGBT activists from the George Town Festival, to this. Conversations, both online and offline, with regards to this issue also reflects the striking increase in violence and animosity. Recklessly, statements by most MPs and religious figures within the country has only contributed to fanning the flames of resentment towards the community. Such tactless comments include labelling it as a “lifestyle” and suggesting that the “practice” should be kept away from the public eye.
While Malaysia grapples with reconciling its political ambitions with its social realities, we must go back to fundamental principles that is the foundation of who we are as a civilised nation in year 2018 – at the international, national and yes, even at the spiritual level.
Unfortunately, among the most cruel of violence hurled towards the LGBT community stems from those who claim to be defenders of Islam. Disturbingly, we see little difference between locals who attack LGBTs and Islamist terrorists where the brutality of both language and inhumane action is concerned. In both instances, the truth and beauty of Islam is perverted by those whose agenda is to exert control over and perpetuate cultural relativism.
On this tenth day of Dzul-al-Hijjah, we are reminded of the story of the sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), which marks the celebration of Hari Raya Aidil Adha. Central to the story is one of faith and trust in both the wisdom and the mercy of the Almighty. Though cautioned by the angels during the creation of Adam, Allah makes humans out of the best of moulds [95:4], declares that humans shall be vicegerents (khalifah) of the earth [2:30], and has granted dignity (karamah) upon all of Adam’s descendants [17:70].
Amidst our celebrations on this auspicious day, we must not forget the sacrifices of struggling single mothers who strive on a daily basis to provide for their families. The steadfastness of Siti Hajar (may Allah be pleased with her) running between Safa and Marwa to find sustenance for her child is a remarkable example of both perseverance and love – something we should all have more compassion for in our lives today.
This, of course, must also be extended to all marginalised communities in Malaysia.
Muslims are therefore in fact obligated to accord respect and honour to all fellow human beings regardless of their walk of life and gender identities. Islam teaches us that it is not right to belittle, tease, defame and be sarcastic to teach other and to call each other by offensive nicknames [49:11]. If fact, when there are disagreements between groups of people, Allah’s instruction is first to fight against the fraction which oppresses the other, and then to make just settlement between them [49:9].
In the era of Malaysia Baharu, let us not allow hatred to tear us apart as a community. Instead, we must strive to reflect the beautiful attributes of Islam and therein, the beautiful attributes of God.
Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha, from all of us at Sisters in Islam.