Muhibbah Tag: Muhibbah in Life; Seperated in Death...

I've been tagged by the one-and-only Mob1900, the poster-master of the blogosphere, for the Muhibbah tag...And today, he bears his soul in the form of writing...Go read it!

Something has been playing on my mind...

How many of you have had your foreign, Western friends come up to you and say things like "Malaysia is such a beautiful country where all the races and religions get along so well", or "The racial and religious unity in Malaysia is amazing", or something along those lines?

And come on, how many of you have actually said something like this yourself, to your Western friends?

I have...

In fact, I tell all my ang-mor/Western friends about how special our country is! I seriously do...I am like this self-appointed, kaki-sibuk ambassador who made it my business to promote the country!

My Umi (Arabic for Mother) is a Malay, and she loves me like her own...She has declared me her menantu, anyway (no, her son and I are not together), and will grab me in a big bear hug with many wet kisses everytime she sees me...

My Pati (Tamil for Grandma) is an Indian, and this old lady, who barely leaves her house, will make that trip just to see me if I am sick...This is the same old lady who will always make me a nice hot cup of Bru coffee in the tiny Snoopy cup when I go visiting...

Some of my mum's younger Malay colleagues call her 'Kai Ma', which is kinda like adopted-mum...Which means I've got many, many siblings I didn't know about ;)

One of my mum's very close friends was the Malay sweeper in her school...We used to visit her every time we passed Bidor, and we would make this detour deep into the kampung to pay dear Makcik Harizah a visit...

Every time we went, Makcik Harizah would always drop everything to see my mum, and she would bring every delicacy in her house for us to eat, and we would always end up with durians and mangosteens and whatever else was in season in the trunk of our car, when we left...In return, we would bring books and clothes and goodies for the kids...

And every year, without fail, there would be a Chinese New Year card in our letter box, from the family...

One day, she fell seriously ill, and for nearly a year after that, my mum (and us too, most times) would visit her every day without fail, and bring food for her, and feed her in the hospital...

When she died on new year's day, my entire family made the trip down and although we got some weird stares at first (dressed very differently, I guess, was one reason), the sight of Makcik's ailing mother hugging and crying my mother made the kampung-folk very much more friendly towards us...

Muhibbah, right?

But I've been thinking...

Do you realise that in Western countries, most (Read: Not all!) cemetery's are common burial sites? Do you realise that there are more common burial sites than those segregated according to religion and/or race? Their people are (usually) buried together, regardless of what/who (race, religion etc) they were in life...

So how it is, that for a country who prides herself as having amazing racial and religious harmony and unity, most of our cemetery's are segregated? How come is it, that even in death, we are 'marked' by our race and/or our religion?

Why is it, in this country of such supposed unity, segregated burial grounds for the Chinese, Indian, Malays, Muslims, Christians, Baha'i's, Buddhist etc are the norm instead of the exception?




More lip service?


Why can't we be muhibbah in life and in death?

Note: I am leaving the tag open...Siapa mau, kasi cakap saja!


mob1900 said…
The burial ground thingy as you pointed was indeed 'refreshing' to ponder about.

Hmmm that means I have to determine the religion/species of the stray dead cats I will find in my backyard in future before making them a decent burial place.

'Here lies Tabby, always curios and loves a good belly rub, hence she's a Scientologist'
Kerp (Ph.D) said…
the common burial ground part was so thought-provoking I felt like a piece of sharp stiletto poking through my brain trying to wake some of the parts up and think.
WP said… probably comes from families being buried in the same burial ground...and since those from the same family tend to be from the same race as well...oh I don't know. It's true that I've never thought of it before...

Maybe burial in Western countries is more "official" than religious? (argh, this is messing up my head :P)

To look on the bright side, being muhibbah in life but not in death is better than the other way around...
Anonymous said…
First time to your blog and you have raised a very interesting question. I never thought about it and have always just thought of it as normal.

When I went to the states to study, I passed a cemetary and I asked my foster mother which kind of cemetary it was. She did not understand and finally I found out everyone is burried there whatever their race or religion is and I was very shocked.

Your post has raised a very good question Daphne. Why is it Malaysia there is so much "segregation" in burial? Even Indian Muslims and Malay Muslims and Pakistan Muslims cannot be burried in the same place!!!

As for WP's statement of families being burried together, the same can be said about the west where there is even more family tradition of having your own burrial area. Your own family plot like the old days.

But they have more common burrial gorunds than Malaysia. Actually I have never seen a common burrial in Malaysia and I have never seen a segregated burrial in the states!!!

Good post Daphne. YOu have raised a very good question.
Bitta said…
Hi Daphne, I like reading your blog. I am a malaysia/sabahan blogging from Oregon, USA ;-)

Good point you have there. I know what you meant. I gues, maybe if segregated its more peacefull. So, that tidak lah berebut-rebut who'll gets better spot hehehe.
Really? When they died, they would be buried together regardless of religion? Hmm... did not realize that coz when I went through their cemeteries, I always looked the other way. I assumed that all of them were christians coz it seems that they have crosses on each grave.

Common burial ground in Malaysia... not yet. Why? Customs and beliefs.

Imagine bungalows and low-cost "house" side by side. Chinese will build bungalows and Malays are forbidden by religion from doing so. Nanti complain.

Under the table money to get that "corner lot."

I dont think the "marching band" of one race works well with the quiet ritual of another - in case they died on the same day. Complain lagi.

Ada bumi lot i.e. the left-over lots 2 feet from the highway or always kena banjir. Complain lagi.

And you know daph, through all these, the deads would not even care or say a word!
J.T. said…
Hi Daphne

Very good observation! I especially find it very moving when I see military cemeteries. It is serene, clean (very clean!), and beautiful. Regardless of faith, they are all laid down in one common ground - they fought together, they died together (well, maybe for some - weeks, months or years later), and buried together.

Although we are able to live in harmony among each other, I don't think this common burial ground will ever happen in Malaysia because segregation is already introduced and encouraged from a young age. Then again, maybe that little segregation could be the key to the harmony. Who knows? :)
Unknown said…
Daphne sweetheart,

I dashed here in my jet plane to be in time to wish you:


Have a good one with loved ones. Cheers.
IBU said…
Daphne dear...

Gong Xi Fa Chai!!

The essence of muhibbah is unity in diversity. There will always be differences amongst the different races, religions & culture. It is valuing those differences and valuing how the differences somehow mostly fit together into the jigsaw puzzle of our colorful Msia is what matters. When one starts to split hairs - then headache lah.

I won't worry much if there isn't any common burial ground ( if the time comes, heck! how would I know where I would be buried? muahaha...).

p/s I'm minoriy Malay here in my taman in Rawang. And enjoying the firecrackers, fireworks, 'nimau' and dragon dance very much every year !
Anonymous said…
Dear Daphne

We were brought to your article after it came to our notice on the "tag muhibbah" series of articles. It then led us to re-post Mr. Zakhir's article on our website:

We congratulate all of you especially to "The Voice" blogger who initiated and the rest of you continued this beautiful process.

As we mentioned to Mr Zakhir on his blog that there is a MCUH BIGGER message in all this for the younger Malaysians who lived in racially isolated environments, eg residential boarding schools and those "brainwashed" to think of their surroundings by the powers-that-be in communal terms.

What better ways to heal the wounds of our present society caused by the excesses of racial politics than for ordinary Malaysians to recollect the experiences of their past which bring out the best of human values and aspirations.

We particularly are attracted to your thoughts on the issue of religiously segregated burials and cemetres. We may take this idea which you have highlighted forward in the selection of articles to be posted on our website in the future.

Thank you

Malaysians Unplugged Uncensored Team
adam and eve said…
treating others irrespective of race ,creed and religion should be the most natural's akin to pissing when u feel the urge to do so.the word muhibbah describing multiracial harmony implies that it's not something natural and it should be complimented.SAD.

Unknown said…
hi.. this will be my first time posting comment on your blog.. hello..

erm.. to answer the question why whe are not muhibbah after death might slightly because we malay cannot support the cost being buried in nirvana memorial centre.. too expensive lar.. hehe.. just joking.. hehe..