Tarred with the same brush

MARCH 4 — It looks like the pig-bristle brush brouhaha may be rekindled soon given that the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry reportedly will resume its nationwide crackdown on such questionable brushes by next week.  

The halal-haram heat in the country might go a notch up again especially when there are still Muslims who are not smart enough (or too confused?) to be able to detect the oink-oink elements in their daily lives. 

Labelling the brushes accordingly is a clever thing to do as this would help overcome uncertainty; it would put things in their proper distinct boxes, especially when there are already 50 shades of grey existing in our lifetime in Malaysia and beyond.  

And this, of course, brings to mind the dedicated officials of certain Islamic institutions, on the prowl to nab the perpetrators of the close proximity genre (or better known among Malay-Muslims as “khalwat”) in less-than-fancy  hotels, who will have to be very careful when knocking on the door of a hotel room in the wee hours of the morning. 

Not because the relentless knocking would wake up the occupants and employees of the entire hotel but, alas, for the fear that their knuckles might come into contact with the paint on the door that was inadvertently given applied onto said door with the porcine-origin brushes. 

If we follow this to its logical conclusion, such a hasty knock on the door could be considered haram. In fact, this would be an excellent fodder for menacing detractors of moral policing; they may use this to justify their assertion that it is indeed not kosher to pry on couples and knock on their hotel doors where the brush that swept the paint over them is itself dubious or can evoke, as in the Malay parlance, “rasa was-was.” 

Heaven forbid if there is even a nagging thought among the officers concerned to force open the door with their bare pristine hands in their single-minded quest to quell corporeal sins! 

But if they do decide eventually to force open the doors, the physical appearance of the ensnared couple concerned may well reinforce the suspicion of the officers that something is really amiss. 

Their dishevelled hair, for instance, would cast a deep shadow of doubt even though they may argue that it is not the result of the heat of the night, but because they now are not so keen on using hair brushes the origin of which is hitherto unknown. 

And we haven’t even started on why the woman is not using an eyebrow brush to look presentable before the discerning and attentive officers who by then would have been in the room already. 

It is obvious here that the job specs of the officers inevitably come in tandem with occupational hazards, which is why they should be provided with a special protective kit — the idea of which can be conceived by experts of certain local universities — whenever they are on their usual rounds. 

That is, shariah-compliant protective gear that would effectively insulate human bodies from boar-related elements such as door paint smeared by the aforementioned brushes, but not to the extent of obstructing or making less effective the officers’ nocturnal visual acumen. 

Such is the importance placed on separating the pig brushes from the halal ones. It’s one of those vital things in life that you just can’t brush aside as being trivial. 

In fact, nothing should take precedence over this boar brush issue; no scourge of society such as the systemic corruption or blatant abuse of power by the powers-that-be should distract us from focusing on this conundrum. For goodness’ sake, this is halal-ness we’re talking about. 

Besides, ignoring such intricate halal matters can be indicative of the measure of your faith. Why, would you, for example, still continue to work as a painter when you know very well that your brushes are of doubtful origin? Wouldn’t you like to avoid committing more sins by not religiously tainting yet other houses (or hotels for that matter) with the same problematic brushes? 

Surely, retooling yourself is the obvious option. But becoming an artist may not be an advisable alternative even though it has a smooth transitional flow to it. 

While both involve a similar medium of expression, artistic creativity at the tip of such disputed brushes certainly can lead to moral decay particularly with the kind of abstract art that could bring out the devil in you. 

You just can’t tell what devious meanings it can emit especially when the artist starts to paint with much frenzy in the name of so-called artistic licence! Surely there ought to be a limit to such freedom of visual expression which, unless checked, may lure you to wild imagination that borders on the profane. 

So as you can see from the above, such problematic bristles can easily prick the conscience of especially concerned Malay-Muslims in a way that no other social evil ever could. 

This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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