Aida Zabidi
I was shocked at coming across an account of a girl who was assaulted at a local surau because she was seen as dressed inappropriately for prayer. 

Perhaps it resonated so much with me because I myself do not wear a hijab, and there have been instances where my friends and I have stopped by mosques to pray in less than Islamic attire, but we have never once been turned away or attacked the way this girl was. 

In the wake of a so-called rise of anti-Muslim sentiment like Trump's Muslim ban, it equally important to focus on the rise in religious fundamentalism rooted in our country as well. 

There are always dark undercurrents of hatefulness in any society, and perhaps I have been blessed that I have not personally encountered too many of these distasteful things in my lifetime; despite being rather unconventional. That said, it is important not to brush off single instances - while perhaps an isolated incidence, and something that seemed shockingly out of place in Malaysia, where we are supposedly so tolerant and welcoming to those from our religion - it is important to address. 

That did happen. 

It may have been a one-off, but it did happen, and it is a reflection of how zealotry has put down roots in our society. 

Religion is something very personal, and each of us may choose to practice in very different ways, but the tenets of the five pillars of Islam is the basis that we cling to. 

However, as Muslims, we are supposed to openly share our religion and encourage others through kindness and good example, not by pushing each other away. 

The rise of a certain fundamentalist version of Islam seemed to be far away and not affecting our shores, but it is these small, hopefully isolated incidences that are coming to light, and creating a scarier picture of what may come to be. 

Can we close our eyes to the number of Malaysians lured by the struggle of so-called 'Islamist' groups like ISIS, while other Muslims blatantly condemn them? Is it any wonder that there is that divide between supposed religious liberals and conservatives? 

Who am I to speak? 

I am no one in particular, and I am only myself, a single individual with my own thoughts and beliefs and it is as an individual that I have the right to express myself. I am only myself, and I have my own thoughts and beliefs. and I do not feel that this is okay. 

It is not okay to shame someone for a lifestyle that you do not approve of. 

It is not okay to assault someone who is clearly trying to practice their faith just because they may not fit the image of the Muslim you have in your heads. 

It is not okay to sit and be silent when you see injustices around you happen. You may think that a single injustice is merely something small, that it is nothing in the scale of the injustices that are happening around the world, but you are wrong. 

It is the summation of these small individual injustices that make up the community that we live in, and if we do not speak up, those small injustices are buried, or even worse, deemed acceptable in the eyes of those who witness them. 

If you feel like there is a moral code that needs to be addressed, do so gently, and in privacy as to avoid shaming the other party. Is it not our manners as Muslims that there is a conduct on how to advice others? 

 Be gentle with others, and be kind. Everyone has a background story that you do not know about, and who are we to judge? 

Don't be afraid to speak up for what you think is right, and don't be afraid to speak up when you see others are being wronged. 

Don't be a bystander. 

It is a small thing to speak up, but bigger than you think.
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