The new mobile app introduced by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) called Amal has got social media buzzing.
Designed to enable the public to report Shariah offences to the authorities as well as instil fear among potential wrongdoers, many have criticised the move as encouraging citizens to become ‘Mat Sekodeng’ (spies and stalkers).
Honestly, I do not understand what the fuss is all about. Yes, it does seem like Jais is providing an easy way to report the wrongdoings of others. And yes, indeed it does sound like the religious authorities are encouraging the act of sticking our noses where it does not belong.
But on second thought, aren’t we already doing just that?
Today, every “Jamil Bond” and “Noraini Drew” can easily make a call to the Jabatan Agama of their area to report on activities considered haram in Islam. With everyone having access to the Internet these days, hunting down these contact numbers is only too easy.
Perhaps the public has forgotten that 24-hour SMS and Hotline features were available years ago. Jawi (Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan) launched their 15888 SMS in 2009 while Jais, their 1-800-88-2424 Hotline in 2015.
With all these different methods to encourage public reporting, what difference does the much debated Jais’ Amal app make now?
For years, our very own “Jamil Bonds” and “Noraini Drews” have been interfering in the private lives of others. How else can one explain the number of Muslim couples caught for close proximity in parks, motels, inside their cars and even in the privacy of their own homes?
“Eh Minah! Engkau tengok tu. Dia bawak jantan mana ntah masuk rumah dia. Jom kita telepon Jabatan Agama. Biar padan muka dia!”
(Hey Minah! Can you see what I see? She is bringing a man into her home. Let’s call the religious authority. Let’s shame her!”)
Frankly, this system of getting citizens to report ‘maksiat’ (forbidden acts) has never been about upholding the sanctity of Islam nor of wanting to cleanse our nation of sinful activities. Because if those were the true intentions, instead of picking up our phone to lodge reports, we would have handled the matter differently. Having the authorities create a scene, barge into people’s private space and bring shame upon them for all the world to see, is not what we should be doing.
I remember once having a conversation with a male friend inside a parked car in Jelutong, Penang one fine evening when a man on a motorbike knocked on our window – upon winding down the window a little, he politely asked if everything was okay.
“Tak baik duduk berdua tempat gelap macam ni (It’s not proper to sit together in a dark place like this),” he advised us, before leaving.
Now some people would tag his action as that of a busy body. However, I appreciated his concern. Instead of gossiping about a couple inside a parked car or making reports of suspected close proximity, he actually did what a good Muslim should do.
Sadly, there are not many people like him around in our country – many are natural born snoops who think nothing of pointing a finger at others while choosing to ignore the other four fingers pointing back at them.
So if you ask me what I think of the new Amal app – I’d say it makes no difference whatsoever. We are in fact already expert snoops. With or without the mobile app, our “Jamil Bonds” and “Noraini Drews” have been at it for a while now.