When I was in my university days (say about 20 years ago), I remember one night when fellow college mates staged a cultural event.
There were a lot of interesting activities during the day and evening, it was quite entertaining and educational too. Standard campus affairs, of course.
The closing show was a dance performance and it started out pretty okay with a group of guys dancing to the tune of an old Malay traditional song (of which title escapes me now).
About five minutes into the performance, all of a sudden, the entire hall went dark and the air-conditioning was out of order too. At first, we all thought it was a power trip.
Just as a group of students were about to call the maintenance department, another group stormed in carrying torch lights. Much to our amazement, the guests were members from the Islamic Society committee.
Apparently, they had heard that the performance of the night consisted of a group of males cross-dressing as females and dancing on stage to entertain the crowd.
They felt it was their responsibility to put a halt to a remote activity that they considered wrong in the eyes of God. If they had allowed it to go on, a sin would have been performed and propagated.
Sure, the group of male students that performed the dance would be acting while some might say, a little effeminate.
But so what? It had nothing to do with anything.
At the risk of sounding petty, these holier than thou members of the religious fraternity had taken it upon themselves to prejudge the performance as if to say that they knew what was best for the rest of the student community.
Now, how dare they think that they are in a position above everybody else to judge people?
This was exactly what had happened a few days ago when the Federal Territories Islamic Department (JAWI) stormed in and raided a private charity fund-raising function.
This caused quite the furore when lawyer Siti Kasim, who was at the function, accused the religious authority of purposely coming to disrupt the function and wanting to cause a sensation by bringing along the media.
She also claimed that JAWI were out of their jurisdiction and that they had no right to be there without a warrant, without having the police with them, and claiming that it was a beauty pageant when it wasn’t.
Women and gender rights groups are now demanding that there be a review of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territory) Act 1997, claiming that JAWI’s action were intended to humiliate and intimidate.
Personally, I agree as I strongly feel that the prejudging people is wrong and against religion and faith.
Being righteous is one thing, but being a bully and thinking one is better than others is another.
Now, I would like to ask the same question I asked almost two decades ago.
Who made them the judge and jury of religious sins?
How dare they think that they are acting in the name of religion.