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Saturday, November 05, 2011


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No one can ever call you a coward, dude!

I wrote a post somewhat similar I think, a while back, on my personal blog. It's encouraging to see I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

John Ling

Very good write-up, Fadz. I especially like this bit:

Like usual, I'm looking at this from all possible perspectives. Homosexual act is a sin, just as theft, murder and adultery. Islam, Judaism and Christianity are religions of the Almighty. We have been taught to accept and follow all the rules to the latter. For over 2000 years such systems have worked and preserved our civilization. If a pious follower accepts homosexuality, what happens then? Is adultery also permissible? Is abortion all right just because the parents are not ready to have a child? Is it all right to perform a prayer while drunk?

These religions are not like Buddhism, where we can pick and choose paths that suit us. We have to accept everything that is taught, because if we learn deeper, we will see the wisdom in each lesson, in each rule. Take one out, and we might as well have anarchy.

In the same vein, though, what do you think of slavery in reference to religious practice in the past 2000 years?

I ask this because the Torah, Bible and Koran treat slavery as a divinely sanctioned practice, and they go to great lengths to detail the relationship between slaves and masters. It's a natural order; a natural hierarchy. Slaves may be freed, but only on the consent of masters.

Yet, in recent times, we have abolished slavery completely, consent or not.

What are your thoughts?

John Ling

By the way, I came across this article recently: http://www.ansible.co.uk/sfx/sfx107.html

What are your thoughts about the declared differences between 'genre' and 'literary'?

Fadzlishah Johanabas

To be honest, John, since physical slavery has never been a part of my life, I've never given it any thought. And since I don't really know Quran well, I cannot quote its verses. Wikipedia it is cheating.

What I know about slavery in Islam is that only non-Muslim PoW and the children of slaves can be kept as slaves. The part where slaves can be made into concubines is surely interesting, but I think throughout Quran, fair and humane treatment of slaves is mentioned. Slaves can also be freed by their owners as an act of benevolance.

I think all these verses point to how well we should treat others, even those we own. It's sad how grown children treat their elderly parents, sometimes no different than slaves; sometimes even worse than that.

Personally, though, since slavery has been phased out in most parts of the world, and I've never been exposed to the act, I wouldn't know how to reply to your question. Even if there will be another religious war outbrake, and I actively take part as a soldier (and somehow survive it), I will take in slaves if it means saving their lives, because, once they are mine, I have the absolute right to free them.

During the time of Prophet Muhammad, non-Muslim PoW were either taken as slaves or killed. Because of this, people who abhored killing had the option of preserving life.

John Ling

Yes, those are fair points.

It's certainly true that slavery was once an accepted practice within Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It was practised uninterrupted for 2000 years.

But in recent times, slavery has been abolished completely, in secular contradiction to what the Holy Books have to say on the matter.

Is it possible, do you think, that religious views about homosexuality may similarly be erroneous?

Fadzlishah Johanabas

Soz. Went out for breakfast with the family. Now, on to the second part: my thoughts on the differences between genre and literary.

For years literary writers have looked down on genre writers, and they still do. Just how like people who wear luxury watches like Tag, Rolex, Omega and Panerai will scoff at people who wear Swatch. The expensive watches, though will last for generations, are freaking expensive and not accessible to the general population. Swatch will last for years, and is a good brand, and most important: it's affordable (accessible). Then you have imitation watches that are dirt cheap and will last you a month or two at most.

The same applies to writing. Though a lot of literary fictions become classics, not many people can digest them. Genre fiction is accessible to more people than literary fiction will ever do. Now, with self-pubbed ebooks, you pay 99 cents per book, and if you don't like it, you just don't buy from the same author. 99 cents is not that much to lose.

What's important here is not how other writers look at your works, but how you look at them. In the article, Margaret Atwood didn't seem to be proud to be affiliated with Science Fiction, because back then, Science Fiction was considered the lowest tier of fiction. Now people actively look for Science Fiction. If you're not proud of your own work, if you don't love it, then how can you expect others to do the same?

The things I post on my blog, not everyone will love them. People are sure to look at me differently, but that's the risk I took and understood when I wrote the posts. And as a writer, I will never be a literary writer, as I don't read literary fiction. I used to favor bombastic words and purple prose, but I've learned from my mistakes and the language I use in my fiction is simpler, easy to understand and follow, more accessible. I'm happy where I am as a writer, and what matters is how I love my stories, and should a reader or two love them, I appreciate it with all my heart. If other writers gloss over me (like what's happening now) or look down on me, it doesn't matter, so long as my stories are good enough to be traditionally published, and that people get to read them.

John Ling

That's true, Fadz.

The difference between low art and high art, as I've been told, comes down to critical approval. For example, if a particular novel featuring telepathy is written for mainstream sensibilities, it's called 'fantasy'. But if it's written for the upper crust, it's called 'magical realism'.

Fadzlishah Johanabas

I do not know about other holy books, but in Quran, slavery is not a commandment. There are guidelines on what to do should a person have slaves. There's nothing about encouraging people to actively procure and trade slaves. When slavery was abolished in early 20th century, no one went against the holy books. That's what I think. Of course, I might be wrong here.

On the other hand, all the books are clear on homosexuality. Even the tale of Lut's people sends a clear message. Yet, I used to wonder as a child--and I still do now--the fairness of condemning good people to eternal hell just because they're not from a certain religion. Jews think all other people will go to hell, Christians think that infidels will go to hell, Muslims think that kafirs (non-Muslims) will go to hell. I believe in Afterlife. I know you will pay for all the crimes you've done in real life, and get rewarded for all the good. Will people like Mother Theresa be condemned to Muslim hell? Or each religion has its own Heaven and Hell?

Then I came to the conclusion that God is fair. God is not vindictive; far from it. Despite all the sadness I've witnessed throughout my years as a doctor, I've seen miracles, I've seen God's mercy, and I've seen how strong people can be despite all their hardships. God is fair.

I read LGBT stories. Sadly, most of them are angry ones; battles on self-acceptance, battles on public acceptance, anger on a lot of things. Not many stories focus on the beauty of relationships. I love writers like Brent Hartinger and David Levithan because they talk about relationships and not about being gay or bisexual. Have you read David Levithan's "How They Met, and other stories"? It's an amazing collection of short stories.

I want to believe that everyone deserves to be happy. If two consensual adults of the same sex choose to find happiness together, and respect that not everyone shares their values, why should it be difficult?

When it comes to gay marriages, though, the sanctity of well established religions has to be respected for the greater good. Just like buying insurance. There are strict rules, and if you already have illnesses like cancer, cyanotic heart disease, end-stage renal failure, you'll have an almost impossible time to look for health insurances because insurance companies have to protect their own interest as well. They'll definitely lose money and fold should they be lenient. There are things you just cannot change in order to maintain the integrity of the greater good.

If you understand the risks you're taking, and are willing to take the risks, then live your best without insurance. Maybe you'll have a peaceful, happy ending, I can't tell the future. That's between an individual and God.

I'll say this again: God is fair. I refuse to believe that a kind, generous and benevolent man who contributes to the society will rot forever in hell simply because he's gay. We are only humans; we do not have the ken to understand God, and if there are those who claim they do, they're idiots.

John Ling

Do you think that religious laws should take precedence over secular laws?

For example, within some hadith, Prophet Muhammad prescribes death as the only punishment for homosexuals.

Is it something that should be practised? Or, again, are such views just wrong?

Fadzlishah Johanabas

That, my friend, I really do not know. It's best to be left for those who have deeper knowledge of religions and laws.

Religions exist as guidelines for us to lead moral, peaceful lives. God also gave us brilliant minds to think and adapt. If animals can learn and adapt from collective memories, why can't we?

I really want world peace, and I don't mean it in an afterthought, Miss Universe interview kind of way. But before that, I have to find my inner peace. We all do.

John Ling

Thank you for your thoughts and comments, Fadz. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain things to me.

Fadzlishah Johanabas

Anytime, John. I'm not sure if you can call it explanation, though. They're just my personal thoughts, and I'm among the least pious people. That's why I'm wary when it comes to citing and quoting Quran. It's not my place to do so.

John Ling

No worries, Fadz. I appreciate you giving gay people a fairer go than most other Malaysians I have encountered, and that means a lot.

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