Islamic instructor, literary artist and Huffington Post writer Yasmin Mogahed eloquently stated, “If you want to focus more on Allah in your prayers, focus more on Him outside of your prayers.” Whilst prayer is a direct and sacred entreaty that Allah admires, channeling spirituality is extant outside of it as well. When I seek Allah, I find myself sitting on folded knees before an elaborate mat of twisted trees and mosques, with cupped palms and a heart impassioned. Ms. Mogahed’s statement implies that I can seek Allah while I eat, sleep, study, or write. In other words, Allah is always near me, always watching and listening. Therefore, in order not to disappoint or disgrace Allah, I must remember him in everything that I do and think of him before everything that I do. That heart aflame, is only for Him.
On January 10th, B1A4 held fan meeting in Kuala Lampur and incited a serious and negative furor. Approximately 60% of the Malaysian population practices Islam. Conservative Islamic country, pretty K-pop boy band, and ardently pubescent fangirls. I leave this puzzle to you, readers, to piece together. On a live stage, in front of the entire nation, B1A4 and a select few fangirls parodied scenes from Heirs where they hugged and were kissed on the foreheads. Although it has been stressed continually by B1A4’s agency WM Entertainment, that the girls who were chosen to take part in the on-stage activities consented, B1A4, one of the most gentle and sensitive K-pop boy groups out there, was being labelled as composed of “molesters” and flaccidly had its name poked and prodded at. At the same time JAWI, the Federal Territories Islamic Department of Malaysia, sought to issue arrest warrants for the inappropriate and immoral conduct of the young fangirls.
I suppose someone is to blame for this contemptuous conundrum. What confounds me, as a K-pop fan and Muslim, is who exactly? First, we must pinpoint the origin of the issue. This is no ordinary case of cultural misunderstanding or religious ignorance in K-pop; rather, this issue has found nascence in a time of Islamic extremism, anti-sentiment and global supervision. The world is literally “watching” Islam and Muslims.
Some people have chosen to blame B1A4, others the fangirls. What I want to lay out is my interpretation of a Muslim woman’s duty in public and private life; both are governed by one presence. When you wear a hijab, pray, read Qur’an, or even call yourself a Muslim, you have understood the onus and beneficence that religion has put upon you. It is clear that faith defines an individual and then the conduct with which one must handle everyday life.
Similarly, this faith demands that you uphold it through acts of generosity, compassion and humility. It cannot be denied that the heart, especially in youth, is prone to outbursts of excitement and affection, maybe even devotion. As a human being, one can confer these feelings to a K-pop boy band, such as B1A4, but as a Muslim one must always confer these feelings only to Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him.
In the end, we can either select one, blame many, or blame none. I say blame many, because when many come together and negotiate the problem, something is learned and agreed on, and through learning and agreement, problems are less likely to transpire again. I am relieved that JAWI decided to drop its arrest warrants and instead opted to counsel the fangirls. This entire situation blew out of proportion when arrest warrants, molestation claims and Sharia Law were brought into the picture. All matters involving religion and activities, peoples, or discussions that are proscribed by religion require extreme sensitivity and patience. B1A4 exhibited their gratitude toward their fans in the only way they believed everyone would truly like: through physical interaction and greetings.
It was simply the wrong time and place for them to do so, and if only their agencies had coordinated with a cultural practitioner and gotten to know about Malaysia and its customs over a gleaming glass of Bandung, the situation would not have tarnished the name of B1A4 or K-pop. As for the fangirls, I am disappointed as a Muslim, but as a fan of K-pop I can understand where they were coming from when they decided they wanted to meet and interact with their biases. What should be clear to them now is the permanence of their sudden decision on the name of their families, and on themselves as Muslims. I truly hope that they stay fans of K-pop, but that they think thoroughly first and, like Ms. Mogahed has put it, “focus on Him [Allah] outside of their prayers.
(Images via WM Entertainment)