23 December 2010
Too Much Christmas for the MUI?
Can there ever be too much Christmas cheer? Yes!
It would seem that the Indonesian arbiters of all things Islam and Muslim, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), has decided that Indonesian malls have gone overboard this year. The malls have gotten so far into the Christmas spirit that Indonesian Muslims are offended by the constant bombardment of the message of giving and peace. The MUI has a serious problem with this fat white pagan in a red suit with a long-flowing white beard, he is everywhere!
Muhyidin Junaidi of the MUI has said that this constant bombardment of Christmas cheer will lead to a very negative backlash from Indonesia's Muslim majority. According to Junaidi, the logic is obvious, Muslims do not celebrate Christmas and as such having it constantly shoved in their face would be tantamount to proselytising. Ah, Pak Junaidi, the only incitement being promoted here is by you! But, if we were to take Junaidi's logic to a logical conclusion, then all celebrations must be muted in order to not offend those that do not practice a particular faith or celebrate a particular day. Then gain, what I think Junaidi is saying is that it is OK where that celebration is being conducted by the majority. But, when it is being conducted by a minority it is then OK to discriminate against the majority and stifle their constitutional rights to celebrate.
Or perhaps, Junaidi is simply saying that any money these malls make by capitalising on the Christmas theme at this time of year is haram. Surely, the MUI could issue a fatwa that bans Muslims from putting red sprinkles on their Starbucks coffee or something. Seriously, the great majority of Indonesian Muslims that I have had the pleasure of knowing and calling friends are not offended by this time of year. They do not have to practice or even participate in the rituals that are Christmas, but they are more than happy to tolerate those that do. It is as simple as give and take; it is about mutual respect; it is about focusing on the big issues and not sweating the little stuff. It really is too bad that the MUI cannot get in touch with the vast majority of Indonesians practicing a tolerant and moderate form of the Islamic faith.
But, let's assume for a minute that a Muslim sales promotional girl was forced to wear a "Santa's little helper" outfit. And, let's assume that this is something that she finds offensive. If this young woman was fired for not wanting to wear a Santa's little helper outfit on religious grounds, then I would have a problem with that. She should simply be moved to a position that does not require her to don the Christmas garb for the duration of the festive period. Until, it reaches a stage where people are getting fired for not wearing Christmas outfits as part of their job description, then Junaidi is really only stoking the fire of religious intolerance.
To the MUI, all my Muslim friends, colleagues and acquaintances are good Muslims and good people. They are not disturbed by the fat guy in the red suit.