AUG 11 — The recent controversy over the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raid on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) reminded me of a visit I made to a shelter for Muslim HIV patients in Subang Jaya a few years back.
One of the members of my PKR division was active in a mosque in that area. She introduced me to the shelter, which was being run by the local Muslim community.
Such institutions are important for, as we all know, the stigma against people living with HIV and AIDS is still rampant in our society and hence many of them have a tough time re-integrating with their families and communities upon leaving hospital.
The fact is some Muslim HIV and AIDS patients who are so ostracised are given a lifeline by the charitable works run by the Christian churches. This of course doesn’t reflect well on Malaysia’s Islamic religious authorities who are supposed to be looking out for the welfare of all Muslims with their hundreds of millions of ringgit of resources.
In Islam, it’s considered a very sad, pitiful thing for a Muslim to die cut off or isolated from his or her fellow believers. I’m sure this is the case with any other faith. So whenever churches engage in charitable work that involves Muslims, their kindness is viewed with suspicion.
Interestingly enough, the church involved in this episode was conscious of this fact, and so worked with the Muslims to repatriate any Muslim HIV patient they had back to the care of their community. Unfortunately, some of their friends and family refused to have anything to do with them, and so there was no other option but for them to remain under the care of the church.
From an Islamic perspective, the blame for a Muslim dying outside the faith community should rest not only on the individual but on his or her community who did not come to their aid during their hour of need as well. Muslims have duties that are obligatory for them individually (fardu ain) and duties that are obligatory for them collectively (fardu kifayyah). This is clearly the latter, where if no one in society takes up this duty the entire society is to be blamed.