We never hear of a single Malay Muslim artist who committed suicide because of despair. In spite of their poverty and being despised by people of religion in their own community and society. Many of them lived between a singular boom and plural busts, some dying of chronic ailments they could not afford to treat timely because of their poverty.
Unlike the privileged Malay government servants, they didn’t have such social protections as gratuities, pensions, employment provident fund (EPF) and Social Security Organization (SOCSO).
In the deepest of their hopeless situations, they survived on peer’s charity and generosity.
Yet, they never committed suicide because they believed suicide is forbidden in Islam. That’s why we don’t hear of shocking news such as 16 Korean celebrities committing suicide between 2005 and 2019 due to various mental health problems.
Malay Muslim artists tend to return to their religious practices
Malay Muslim artists get their God-given talent validated
Meet Datuk Ramli MS, the 63-year-old Musical Director and Chief Jury of the Gegar Vaganza 6 (GV6), the number one entertainment programme in Malaysia 2019.
This personality knows what it is like to have to struggle in life especially when musical talents are your only natural capital with which to make a living.
In his ‘Ini Kisahku (This is my story)’ video he spoke about his deep and abiding trust in Allah’s help even while he was biting the dust of life.
The dust has long settled, but his religious habits persist and help influence his present crew.
More, Tok Ram will not hesitate to give words of validation, encouragement and upliftment to deserving Malay artists which they would never dream to get from the religious circles. For example, this is what he says to Naqiu, a very talented contestant and hot favourite in Gegar Vaganza 2019, Week 6 and Week 7:
Giving back to the long-suffering artists
In Malaysia, Malay Muslim entertainers generally live in an insecure and precarious environment. Because they are not government or private sector employees they don’t enjoy gratuities, monthly pensions or employee provident fund to fall back on when they are no longer active. They live between booms and busts throughout their life.
In good times, when they are young, they may get good job offers, and enjoy their brief moments in the sun. When things change as they almost always do in the entertainment industry, new trends set in, and new stars get into the market, senior entertainers get sidelined. They find themselves in financial troubles.
As they advance in age, many have fallen into chronic sickness and found that they are unable to afford the medical treatment they need and which are getting expensive by the day. They suffer in silence. The only little help they could hope to get is from their own peers in the entertainment industry.
Lately, however, as the industry became big and managed to attract sponsorships from big companies some of the unfortunate veteran artists had received better assistance. For example, during the just-concluded Gegar Vaganza 2019, 13 such veteran artists were given RM10,000 each by the main sponsor Farm Fresh and Astro. The Gegar Vaganza is the number one entertainment programme in Malaysia attracting some 2.5 million viewers.
Moral of the story
The moral of the story is that not all are ungodly in the Malaysian Malay Muslim entertainment world that makes many Daies feel justified in alienating and despising it.
The Malay Muslim entertainers never betrayed the core of their Islamic faith. In fact, they have made a distinct difference in the global world of entertainment. Surprise!
For if you are a Western tourist visiting this country and watch the Malaysian TV channels from your hotel room, you will certainly see and feel the difference in form and message of the local Malay drama and entertainment slots.
For instance, you may be ‘amazed’ that in Malaysia Malay Muslim female artists and actresses can perform their acts without uncovering their head and body, and that the message of the drama series is always ultimately about godly values such as Allah as the Final Arbiter of human affairs, belief in Allah’s Wisdom, etc.
So while the strict religious circles are bickering and splitting hairs about the harams, the makruhs, and the sins of the entertainment world, the Malaysian Malay Muslim entertainers have already shown the rest of the world how Islamic parameters positively shape their performing arts.
Contributed to us by Prof. Dr. Amriah Buang
President, Interactive Muslimah Association (IMAN), Malaysia
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best Fikrah team.