Quickie: Just done with my final year project oral presentation. With some additional room to relax, now I can focus on tests and other projects – and the final exams.
Edit [27 October 2009]: The President of Rakan Masjid has responded to my article on his blog here [link]. The response is written in Malay, so I am currently working with my friends to get it translated into English as well for better understanding. Keep posted here for more details as they come!
Edit [28 October 2009]: The response by the President of Rakan Masjid is now available in English, exclusively brought to you by The Awesomesauce Times! Have a look-see here: [link]
Meantime, have a read of this article on how to deal with conflicts in communication: [link] Remember, we’re all learning as we move along, so keep an open mind! =)
Edit [29 October 2009]: Comments for this post are now closed.
Moving on, let’s discuss RM. Among us UTPians, RM can be quite the hot topic at times. When big, glamorous events are just around the corner, you are sure to hear students discussing RM. In fact, it is usually during times like that when RM becomes a major issue.
Being something that is very widely discussed, RM is also widely associated with a lot of problems. People of all races, religions and backgrounds can relate to the issues regarding RM, as they have been affected by them in one way or another.
Wait a minute, you think I’m talking about money? As in RM = Ringgit Malaysia?
Actually, the RM to which I am referring more times than is really necessary stands for Rakan Masjid, literally “Friends of the Mosque”. It is an organization that succeeds at being ubiquitous and mysterious at the same time and, quite frankly, has garnered a reputation of notoriety among students in UTP despite its noble objectives.
Perceptions of Rakan Masjid
I can already hear the skeptics railing against me for using the word “noble”. Well, according to a friend of mine (who was a member of RM for a time), the organization is:
“..a student body that carries the responsibility to introduce and apply Islam in their programs for students – regardless of their religion and beliefs – to teach them about the Islamic lifestyle and increase their awareness about Islam.”
(Rakan Masjid official website [link])
So why is it that a substantial number of UTP students, especially among non-Muslims, have a negative perception of RM?
“Excessively free, excessively busybody, excessively unaware of where their limits are, sometimes excessively unreasonable.”
“People who have no sense of accountability.”
“They’re the police that nobody asked for; they should channel their energies into fixing their studies first before policing us.”
Sure, three people quoted here doesn’t seem like “a substantial number”, but go around the general population of UTP and ask them just what they think about RM. You’ll find for many of them their answers don’t stray very far from what you’ve read above.
A reason for this shift in perception would be incidents involving RM and the non-Muslims. One of the most prominent of these was a large-scale Valentine’s Day operation about a year back, which you can read more about at [link]. Incidents like these do nothing to boost or improve the image of RM among UTPians.
To be fair, there are those who do think that RM is still a good organization; it’s just that they have become skewed from their original path:
“Rakan Masjid for me, are a group of people with good intentions, but they just don’t have the right method of approaching others around them. It’s like they’re trying to show a good example to students, but at the same time they don’t really mingle with the students themselves.”
So people do agree RM has been going overboard, but for different reasons. Non-Muslims may view RM’s actions as religious fanaticism or extremism, whereas to Muslims RM is merely trying to fulfil its role as an elder brother that advises them.
The Way I See Rakan Masjid as a Non-Muslim
As a non-Muslim myself, I don’t intend to say much about RM’s role in advising other Muslims; as highlighted in a recent Corporate Ethics lecture, Muslims are encouraged to advise those who have strayed from the path. It is when RM crosses the line and begins to “advise” non-Muslims as well – I use the term broadly here – that it has overstayed its welcome.
Among other things about RM that cheese me off:
1. RM is not under the jurisdiction of the Student Support Services Department as all other clubs are, but under the UTP Mosque Administration Unit instead. Why the distinction?
2. There are no other official religion-oriented associations in UTP besides RM, not even for Buddhists, Hindus and Christians. Why aren’t we allowed to have fellowships between our brothers and sisters the way RM encourages Muslim students to remain united?
3. Certain events that involve band competitions or performing artistes are blacklisted by RM as “hedonistic”, and flyers are handed out to students outside the event “to remind them of their obligations”. Isn’t that jeopardizing the success of events that were meticulously planned and carried out by a committee composed of many races and religions? Is it right to put down the work of others?
Perhaps the beginnings of RM lie in a noble cause. Yet, somewhere down the line RM has come to be associated with the extremist side of Islam: intolerant, hardliner and backwards.
While it’s true that just about anyone can criticize, complain and comment, it’s equally true that only the greatest among us are able to absorb such things and change for the better. RM, for your own good, take heed of what has been said and change.
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Coming up next Also on The Awesomesauce Times: MPPUTP in Perspective.