If we could just remove all forms of anger from the equation, things could have turned out differently, says Majidah Hashim.
I am almost afraid to ask this question: have we become an extremely angry people?
As I am writing this, Allahyarham Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s body had just touched down in Kedah, his final resting place. Cries for justice are trending over social media.
Just a week ago, we were once again shocked by the death of a transgender woman in Klang. Some say it was a hate crime. Some say that it was a theft. Either way, neither condition justifies being beaten to death.
And just weeks before that, the country’s social media circulated allegations of groups who have pledged blood to spill upon those who “undermine” Malay supremacy in the country – many of which featured hurtful language and frightening threats of physical violence.
All this is on top of the many, many incidents of intrusive violence in our country including the emergence of brutal vigilante “patrol groups” which continue to recklessly terrorise our communities.
In a Malaysia that is supposed to have woken up to a new age of hope and a renewed sense of justice, where is all this anger coming from? Is the fabric of social justice in our country really that bankrupt that we must now take order in (literarily) our own hands?
Or are there deeper, more systemic issues causing upset and stirring all the wrong kinds of sentiments at the expense of social order?
In Surah al-Hijr (Chapter 15), the angels were commanded by Allah to prostrate before Adam, which they all did, with the exception of Iblis [15:31]. Iblis compared his creation (out of smokeless fire) to be superior to that of Adam (out of clay) and refused to bow to him [15:33].
For this reason, Allah banished Iblis from heaven [15:34], who retaliated by vowing to mislead humans and create chaos on earth [15:39].
The sum of human history has been enraged by evidence of Iblis’ work since, with the most potent poison of choice being hate and anger.
Islam tells us that the strong are not those who wrestle well. The strong are whose who are able to control themselves when in a fit of rage [Sahih Muslim, Book 32, Hadith 6313].
In a narration by Abu Hurairah, a man approached our beloved Prophet and said, “Advise me!”
Our beloved Prophet responded, “Do not become angry.”
The man asked the Prophet the same question again (and again) and everytime, our Prophet responded, “Do not become angry” [Sahih Bukhari, Book 73, Hadith 137].
Malaysia is on the verge of being known as a pretty angry country, and it is important that we figure out why.
Is it really because the social contract that lends a sense of order that our country is built upon is so delicate that the slightest glitch would cause us to fall completely apart?
Or are we genuinely threatened by the ambition of becoming a more globalised nation?
Or is the “peaceful transition of governments” that had been the praise of the world really just a state of immobilised numbness – and that this anger-charged dissatisfaction is the real, albeit delayed, reaction to the Pakatan Harapan win?
If we could just remove all forms of anger from the equation for just a moment and replace the anger that was present in all the scenarios with a reasonable chance of understanding and even compassion, I do believe that things would have turned out differently.
Because it was anger that killed that transgender woman in Klang and so many others in Seremban, Kuantan, Ipoh and other places in Malaysia.
It was anger that instigated so much social media hate speech.
It was anger that caused the temple riots in Subang.
It was anger that made us turn against one another.
And it was anger that killed Allahyarham Muhammad Adib.
Majidah Hashim is communications manager with Sisters in Islam (SIS). She can be contacted via Twitter at @majidahhashim