June 26, 2008

mosque and state

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:55 am by changisme

So I’ve signed up for a diving course, and hoping to see some sea creatures after those jungle walks. I met this hong kong diver who’s super talkative. She told me that Bali is so much better in terms of the number of things you can see and the prices, but I kinda want to compare the difference, plus when Yoni’s doing his 4000 meter mountaineering, I might as well do something else, as I"m not so keen on going somewhere in freezing temperature at this point.

Today, I mainly relaxed after running some errands. I went to the State Library and a Catholic church. The church was large and it seemed like most of the congregation is made up of Chinese. I later on found a book in the library that says to be a Malay (ethiically, not nationally) you have to be a Muslim. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, although I understand that if you want to convert out of Islam, by law you would be executed, unless you change your mind…. so I guess.. you could be a dead Malay and a non-muslim at the same time.

Anyway, I thought about identity issues. We all want to be part of a bigger entity because we feel more powerful, and that’s our identity. However, if you are in a society that’s based on almost everyone is of a single religion, then you don’t really get an identity out of it right? Or maybe you do? Did I feel a strong Chinese identity when I was growing up in China? I guess some people must have, I didn’t. Maybe it was just my lack of imagination for what’s beyond. Religion in this country is obviously very identity based, you automatically inherit your parents religion.  I am identified by my race and heritage and not really my belief system.

When I went to the library, I picked out a couple books on Islam and Malaysia. It’s actually quite like China’s relationship with Atheism. It seems like the concensus is that Malaysia is almost an Islamic state, but tolerating all other religions. The state spends money on Islam and allows schools to teach Islamic materials, and all Muslims are governed by Syariah law while the rest of the population is not. It seems like the tension is that people want the islamization in the people, but also want to claim that the state is fair to all religions. It’s somewhat contradictory, but it seems to work. It’s like how China tolerates all the religions but the government embraces and teaches atheism.  It made me wonder if these are better or the other extreme in Canada is better. Canada basically is so afraid to touch any religions that it’s like a housewife trying to scrub a table white, scrubbing really hard, and then when she stands up she’s horrified to find it’s slightly blue, then she scrubs some more, and she stands up again, and sees that it’s slightly pink, then scrub scrub scrub and realize it’s slightly green. She becomes so afraid that people would think she’s dirty but she can nver gets her table perfectly white. I know by multiculturalism, we want the table to be celebration of cubism, but somehow I don’t think that’s what the school system at least is undertaking.

JUst a side note, the library here also isn’t very well funded, like those in Beijing. I think the libraries I’ve seen in Canada is still the best, not that I’ve seen man6y though, so I’ll find out. Yoni thinks I’m crazy to be going into a library when I’m away on vacation in a tropical country. Well.. you know the AC there was good 🙂


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