• Melissa Kartini

#MyMalaysiaMyHome: My Malaysia My Home

Updated: Jan 28, 2019

The fun thing about making friends from all races and religions is that you get to learn and broaden your knowledge on other cultures. I love how respectful Malaysians are with our multicultural country and how we always show interest in one another, despite the occasional sensations made by some.

I don’t think it’s just important. It’s vital! It’s how you build human relationships; if you don’t respect other beliefs (any kind of beliefs) you are disrespecting the whole being.

I want to share one incident that happened recently and I learned something from it. It is about bak kut teh.

One morning at the office pantry, we went to fill up our bottles with Cuckoo Water as usual. It is our favourite water because it has a lot of benefits. You can read about it here. But… one of the real reasons we like it is… look at this picture ^__^ ...

The Handsome man as duta for this water.

Ha ha, I’m just kidding. Don’t take it too seriously. Okay, now back to our topic. While waiting for my turn to fill up my bottle, I saw Ivy wash vegetables for her lunch during her break. She is vegetarian. Most of the Chinese in my office are vegetarians, which means they don't eat meat, only vegetables. She wanted to make bak kut teh soup for lunch and I asked her for the recipe. Ivy showed it to me. It has vegetarian lamb, which is made of mushrooms (surprisingly, it has a Halal certification), and herbs listed on it. The herbs in question were white peppercorns, dang gui (ginseng), chuan xiong (Ligusticum striatum), star anise, cinnamon, yuk zhu (Polygonatum Root) and licorice roots.

Time passed by really quickly that day….

Suddenly I smelled something aromatic. I went to the pantry and saw Ivy's cooked bak kut teh. The smell was made even nicer with the herbs. Ivy not at the pantry at the time.

Then, Kak Gee said to me, “We can’t use this rice cooker anymore!”

She was really upset.

And I asked her, “Why?”

“Because Ivy cooked bak kut teh. It has pork.”

I really surprised! And then I calmly said to her, “That's not true. Ivy is vegetarian. There is no pork, there're only herbs, Kak Gee.”

“No, it still has pork even though it has veggies, because it is bak kut teh.” She adamantly denied what I had just said.

I didn't want to argue anymore, because I was also not sure which was correct. On our way to lunch, I told Jane what happened at the pantry.

She was really upset with Kak Gee. Jane explained to me that bak kut teh is commonly known as a pork rib dish that is cooked in broth, and that it is popularly served in Malaysia and Singapore. But vegetarian bak kut teh is definitely different from the actual meaty bak kut teh. Without all of the meats, it isn't oily at all. That, and the soup is very aromatic because of all the herbs. Bak kut teh is only the name which is translated as bak = meat, kut = bone, teh = soup.

“We respect your religion. We know it is sensitive issue, so we will not bring it to the office. If we can respect your religion, why can’t you respect our religion? We all know that’s a big sin for all of you,” Jane said disappointedly.

We were truly sorry to her.

After lunch, I went back to my table to continue my work. Suddenly, Ivy came to me with tears in her eyes.

“Fatin…” said Ivy.

“Oh, Ivy, why? What happened to you?”

“They said I need to bring the rice cooker home because I cooked bak kut teh,” she said sadly.

I asked Ivy, “Ivy, listen, did you put pork in the rice cooker?”

“No, I didn’t put it. I know it is a big sin. I don't even dare to bring it to the office.”

“Yes, Ivy, I know that. If you didn’t put it, it’s okay. Just leave it, no need to bring it home. Okay? Full stop. No need to think anymore.” I gave her a smile to calm her.

For those who are still not sure about bak kut teh, I found an article that might help you understand more about bak kut teh. <— You can click it and judge for yourself.

Actually, if you aren't sure about something, don't act like you know everything about it. Gather all the information needed until you sure about it. Show the evidence, so that you can be confident in it.

The Holy Quran tells us to respect other religions

Islam is a religion of peace. In the times of Islamic glory, Muslims and non-Muslims used to live together in peace and harmony under the Islamic states. Muslims follow the Holy Quran for divine principles to achieve salvation.

Muslims strictly adhere to the laws and regulations laid down by ALLAH Almighty. The moral duty of a Muslim is not limited to his family; he also has duties to his neighbors, the society he lives in and the Muslim Ummah.

The holy Quran is a not an anti-Jewish or anti-Christian book; it came from ALLAH to correct the corruption done to previous Divine revelations. Islam is not a new religion; in fact, all the Prophets of Allah came to give the same teachings of Islam.

Muslims don’t despise non-Muslims and cannot misbehave with them for no reason. Allah says in the Quran:

“Allah does not forbid you to be just and righteous towards those who did not go into battle against you (over matters of faith), and did not expel you from your homes. Deal with them justly. Allah loves those who are just.” The Holy Quran, Chapter 60, Verse 8.

It is very clearly mentioned here that Allah doesn’t forbid us to be kind and just to non-Muslims. It is also mentioned in the Quran that there is no compulsion in religion.

“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand- hold that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things.” The Holy Quran, Chapter 2, Verse 256.

There is no compulsion in Islam; a person has his own will if he wants to believe in Islam or otherwise. Islam is a blessing to Mankind.

We live in a harmonious country and please let it remain that way. #MyMalaysiaMyHome

With love,

Fatin Nadiah

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