Combating vigilantism: Sisters in Islam responds to ‘sock gate’

We must protect Malaysia's cultural harmony from distorted ideologies


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By Sisters in Islam

On this auspicious day of Nuzul Al-Quran, commemorating the momentous occasion when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received the first revelation of Islam’s sacred book, the Holy Quran, it is imperative for us as Muslims to reflect deeply on our current situation.

This urgency is heightened considering the recent ‘sock gate’ controversy, which has left us profoundly disturbed by the events that have unfolded.

We must remind ourselves of Malaysia’s intrinsic strength, rooted in its kaleidoscope of cultures and races – a testament to our profound diversity.

Yet, amid this richness, sinister forces lurk, attempting to unravel the fabric of our society with their warped vision of Islam.

Certain politicians, hungry for power and relevance, have shamelessly exploited this controversy to portray themselves as champions of a version of Islam – one that stands in stark contrast to its true essence of inclusivity, peace and justice.

While the act of printing the name of Allah on a sock is unquestionably disrespectful to Muslims, it is but a terrible oversight of the supermarket chain involved.

However, the aftermath of this debacle has been nothing short of calamitous for a nation that prides itself on its diversity.

Vigilantes, masquerading in the name of Allah, have emerged, setting a perilous precedent toward religious extremism.

It is appalling that such brazen behaviour continues unchecked, with the authorities appearing lethargic in their response.

The recent incarceration of individuals like Chiok Wai Loong and Ricky Shane Cagampang for their online comments on the controversy is a glaring indictment of justice and freedom of expression in our nation.

READ MORE:  Probe socks issue instigators for criminal offences

While these individuals faced swift punishment, vigilante groups roam free, acting as judge, jury and executioner. This stark double standards in law enforcement reeks of the erosion of the rule of law.

Moreover, the opportunistic exploitation of sensitive issues by politicians has fuelled a dangerous ‘lynch mob’ mentality, suffocating dissenting voices and deepening societal schisms.

The rantings of faceless individuals on social media must not be used as a pretext for vigilantism, for such actions only tear at the very fabric of our society.

In his book Islam: Basic Principles and Characteristics, Khurshid Ahmad eloquently defines Islam as the “embodiment of the code of life,” a divine guide bestowed upon humanity by Allah.

Islam, at its core, champions the equality of all humanity, transcending barriers of colour, class or race. The Quran’s poignant reminder of unity in al-Imran (3:103) serves as a beacon of hope in these tumultuous times.

Ayah al-Imran 3:103 beautifully states:

And hold firmly to the rope of Allah and do not be divided. Remember Allah’s favour upon you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts, so you – by His grace – became brothers.

However, certain factions in Malaysia have propagated a distorted interpretation of Islam – a divisive and race-based ideology that betrays its foundational principles. They have hijacked Islam, reducing it to a tool for their selfish agendas.

The harsh reality facing Malaysia today is that we have veered off course from our foundational narrative. Politicians, driven by narrow agendas, have prioritised religious symbolism over the cherished values of multiculturalism and inclusivity.

READ MORE:  Failure to act against vigilante groups encourages mob justice

Instead of fostering understanding and dialogue, we are now ensnared in a quagmire of intolerance, where dissent is stifled and alternative perspectives silenced.

This dangerous trajectory has tarnished our nation’s reputation and undermined the very democratic principles we hold dear.

Yet, amid this turmoil, a flicker of hope remains. Malaysia’s redemption lies in embracing the true principles of Islam – justice, fairness and compassion.

Our leaders must heed this call and steer the nation toward a future where diversity is celebrated and harmony prevails.

It is time for Malaysia to reclaim its identity as a bastion of multiculturalism and tolerance, rejecting the divisive ideologies and self-serving politicians that threaten to tear apart the very fabric of our society. – SIS

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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Gursharan Singh
Gursharan Singh
28 Mar 2024 11.47am

Public and private vehicles owners worldwide commonly display verses from their respective holy scriptures on or in their vehicles and even houses shops business premises
Considering that some of the places may be used for purposes which may be suspected to be not in line with the religious teachings would that not be perceived by some as being contrary to the teachings of the holy verses.

Just a thought. Bless all