I'll start off with the clamp first.
It is now the school holiday season here in Malaysia. During this time, Muslim parents who have young sons are planning for the `rites of passage' ritual for their boys. It is circumcision time... an anxious time of their life for the young boys. Sometimes the parents, especially the moms, are filled with anxiety and worries too.
The process of circumcision has changed a lot. The trade of the traditional Tok Mudim is dying away as most parents nowadays send their sons to private clinics. Doctors can even now offer their young patients the option of using circumcision clamps as opposed to the standard` snip and stitch' method. The clamp is a device that helps simplify the process because there is no need for sutures or dressings. The cut also tend to heal faster.
I've read some negative reviews about this particular method but having chosen this option for my youngest son's circumcision a few years ago, I can attest to its advantages. The clamp method is now widely used in Malaysia and some other developing countries. Not many people know that this device, commercially known as the Tara Klamp, was invented by a Malaysian doctor.
We'll come back to this subject a little later. I want to touch now on the subject of creed and colour.
Creed and colour relates to religion and race. In Malaysia, these two issues are so intertwined in the fabric of society and hardly a day pass by without something about race or religion being discussed in the mainstream media. The last few weeks have been no exception. I'm of course, talking about the decision of the National Fatwa Council regarding yoga.
Many blogs have touched on this issue and I do not wish to delve too deep into the merits of the decision itself. I just wish to share my observations based on what has been reported in the papers and the views and opinions of other bloggers. So here goes, in simple point form :
1. The National Fatwa Council cannot issue a fatwa or edict that is enforceable nationwide. Jurisdiction on Islam is a state matter.
2. The practice of yoga is not haram as long as it is not accompanied by mantras or chants that equates with the divinity of Allah swt.
3. The announcement by the council is a case of poor planning and foresight. Otherwise the Prime Minister and some Sultans would not have seen fit to publicly give their views on the matter.
4. The announcement has caused over-reactive response from both supporters and detractors. The response has come from non-Muslim individuals and communities too.
I do not think that this is the end of the story yet. I believe the Council could have handled this issue in a much better manner. While I appreciate their intent in issuing the directive (primarily that the Muslims who perform yoga do not become deviated in their faith - terpesong dari aqidah), they could have adopted a more thoughtful approach. The Gazer of Navels has an excellent example of how it could've been done -> here.
As I've said, many non-Muslim groups and bloggers have entered the discussion on this directive. This has prompted some Muslim groups to react by saying that `This is none of your business!'. Many Muslims are even chiding other fellow Muslims for questioning the ruling.
In my view, when it comes to issues like this, we Muslims cannot prevent non-Muslims from airing their opinions. Malaysians are not an exclusive society of this or that race only. What ever happens to one race could affect another... it's just a question of degree. We cannot fault our non-Muslim friends from showing their concern. What's important is the way this concern is raised... again we are back to the question of approach.
Similarly, Muslims cannot hold on to the position of exclusivity. By shutting out discussion, we are hindering the process of understanding. If we wish to attract other people to our religion or at least to understand it better, we should be encouraging interaction rather than building walls. We have to recognise that opinions and efforts of individual non-Muslims have their merits too.
Which now brings me back to the story of the humble circumcision clamp. After sending their sons to be circumcised using the clamp method, not many Muslim parents realise that the inventor of this device is a non-Muslim doctor. Dr Gurchran Singh won the Gold Award for his invention at the Geneva Exhibition in 1996.
Dr Gurchran donated thousands of his clamps to the young boys of Acheh in the aftermath of the tsunami. It's simplicity of use meant that the clamp was ideally suited to the non-hospital environments available in Acheh. This story of the good doctor helping out our neighbours in need was recorded by the Discovery Channel. Something that all Malaysians can be proud of.