Thursday, December 27, 2012


By Mansor Puteh

I sat on the steps outside of a bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia some years ago, when I was performing the minor Haj called Umrah.

And an Arab man drove his car and stopped in front of me. He alighted from it carrying in his hand a stack of cash which he wanted to deposit into his account, leaving his ignition key in the car, whose doors were not locked. And he also did not give me the look or tried to walk at another place to enter the bank.

This is Saudi Arabia, where Islamic Laws are fully enforced.

And compared to some countries in the west, where their cities are not safe even for those who are able and strong.

Such as at some parts in New York City where I had just left, where people could be killed over a dime, and where the front doors of many or all apartments having so many locks, that an average New Yorker has to carry a bunch of them tied to his belt.

And when it was time for me to circle the Holy Kaabah, as part of the ritual for Umrah, I left my bag which had all my things with someone who was reading the Holy Koran at the side.

But I made sure where he was, by remembering the pillar at which side of the Holy Kaabah, so I could return to him to collect the bag.

It took a while to circumambulate around the Holy Kaabah, and when it was done, I managed to locate the spot where the Arab man was sitting and reading the Holy Koran. I took my bag from him while he continued to read the book.

This is Saudi Arabia, where Islamic Laws are fully implemented.

In Malaysia, one cannot do this. Even when one tries to look after one’s things they can still be stolen by strangers.

I knew of someone who wanted to go to a toilet and she asked a Melayu woman to look after her handbag which contained among other things some pendants with holy text on them, as it is forbidden to take them into toilets.

The Melayu woman, being Muslim agreed, as it was such a Muslim thing to do, to help someone who had to go into a toilet.

But when the women alighted from the toilet, the woman was gone, taking with her the handbag.

And this is Malaysia which is supposed to be a good Muslim country. It is a good Muslim country, but there are many Muslims who are not so good.

In Japan, which is not a Muslim country, they know how to observe an Islamic way of life; they keep their environment clean and tidy; they do not tell lies and are particular with time.

I left the battery of my 16mm Arriflex movie camera on the bench when my assistant did not pick it after the train arrived and we rushed to get inside it to go somewhere.

Fortunately, instinctively turned outside and saw the battery. And there was a Japanese man who was pointing at it.

I then immediately instructed to him by using sign language to take it to the station, which he did.

And I made a stop at the next station and turned around to the earlier station where I managed to collect the battery.

If this had happened in many other countries including in Malaysia, chances are the battery would have been lost.

In Japan if one drops a phone or anything while riding on their train, all that he needs to do is to go to the railway station office where chances are the items are kept there.

In Malaysia, there is no practice of the railway or bus station having known to have kept anything.

On the contrary, even with certain agencies, their staff habitually steals things from traders who construct their food and other stalls illegally, so that they are not able to claim their properties.

In Iran, one can see stalls and shops or stores left unattended during prayer times, and nothing is stolen.

The same thing can be experienced in Aceh, which is the most Islamic state in Indonesia.

And in New York City, one can buy a newspaper by taking it and leaving the money. In Malaysia someone tried to do this practice; he left his store to go to the masjid for the Friday prayers.

However, when he returned to his store after the prayers, he discovered all his papers were missing including the money.

Malaysia has not come up to the level of New York City. And New York City has and can never come up to the level of Saudi Arabia or even Iran.

In fact, most so-called Muslim countries are not Muslim. They are only Muslim by name but not in practice.

Japan is an Islamic country, even though the majority of the people may not admit to being Muslims, but they practice Islam better and more than many of the Muslims even in the Muslim countries.

It is also ironic how many Muslims become better Muslims when they are abroad, in the west.

But, alas, they only do it because they are forced to do so by law. They do not little, make a nuisance of themselves or park their cars illegally wherever they like.

In fact, Singapore, too, is more Islamic than Malaysia in many ways.

It was much better before in Malaysia, where in the villages one could leave the house unlocked for days, with no one bothering to sneak into it to pinch things or to rob.

Now many Malaysians are so particular with the security of their properties that they have all sorts of electronic alarms, on top of the gates that are constructed in their residential areas, so much so that many Malaysians are imprisoned by their own fears.

Even then, petty crimes do happen, almost on a daily basis, all of which could have been avoided if the people practice Islam better and more.

In Japan where they do not flaunt their wealth, where everybody has what the other person has, and where their Emperor do not flaunt his special status living in a palace which is so bare.

In Malaysia where the middle class is expanding which causes the ire of those who could not get into such a group, so there is economic disparity which leads to social disparities and petty jealousy.

Petty crimes are created because of this.

In the old days, when there is on real demand for things and other worldly possession, nobody was encouraged to steal from the others who have them.   

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