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Malaysia, February 3, 2000

Oddly Enough, Malaysia is Muslim

They ain't Arab though they is Muslim!

Gee, I'd hate to step on a mirinet!

Not Cinderella's Castle!
Could I trouble ya'll for a kiss?
Turning heads as they strut by
Blue is a much better color for a mosque
Not a planetarium
While in sitting on a beach in Thailand, I read Roots, and it struck me how Kinta Kunte was Muslim even though he lived in Gambia. In my mind, from the slant the US press uses, Islam and Arabs are inexorably linked, but not Islam and anyone else. To think that Africans would be Muslim shocked me.

On my way to Malaysia, I then read the Autobiography of Malcolm X (yes, an A. Huxley theme), and was touched by how Malcolm felt Islam, even the odd type practiced by the Nation of Islam, was a life-changing force for him. With this background, seeing women in headscarves and men in skullcaps here wasn't as much as shock as when I noticed they were not Arab either, but Malaysian.

Sometime around 1000 AD, as Kublai Khan's armies were charging across Northern Asia, Arab traders brought Islam to South East Asia. With the exception of Buddhist Bali and headhunting Papua New Guinea, almost all of the countries or islands between Australia and Thailand went Muslim.

Now don't get me wrong, the Anglican British, Hindu Indian, and Buddhist Chinese influences here have kept the Islamic fundamentalism that's present in Arabia in check, and though there are many Malay women in scarves, thankfully, there are plenty more in tank tops and tight jeans.

Unfortunately, I have plenty of time to notice since the mosque next door to my hotel calls the faithful to prayer five times a day, starting at sunrise!

After I stopped cursing the dawn loudspeaker, I went over to the mosque and wondered for a second why everyone was facing West. Then I realized, than unlike the USA where its East or Russia, where its South, Mecca is West of Malaysia. This mosque wasn't much, an old storefront I guessed, and one of many in Georgetown. In fact, just outside the city proper is one of the massive State Mosques built by the government.

I think I'll try and wander in the gigantic State Mosque near Kuala Lumpur, though I'll be sure not to bring along any random women I meet. As my Danish friends Suzanna and Malene learned in a St Pete mosque (yes, there is a brilliant blue mosque in St Petersburg), women are not allowed, even in scarves and pants. In Islam, it's a Man's world!

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1 Comment

In Islam, it's a Man's world!
I disagree with this sentence. In Islam, we respected women. Unlike in one of the Hindu bible, they loathe women. But Islam respected women. In malaysia alone, women are allowed to drive. Women are allowed to go out all by themselves. In terms of religions, in families, yes, men are da boss. But, in other non-religious matter, I totally disagree if people said it is a man's world. tq

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