The socks controversy: What do non-Muslims have to say

“JUST because that’s the way you ‘glorify’ your gods, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the way Muslims glorify Allah!”

Such was the response provided by controversial convert Muslim preacher Firdaus Wong Wai Hung when confronted with the question that socks in the marketplace today have artists-inspired images of Jesus, Buddhism and Hinduism.

In an earlier article, FocusM has already highlighted the worldwide reactions from Buddhists who were “rather restrained” towards the destruction of the famed Buddha statues of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001 by the Taliban.

There were no hysterical calls to physically retaliate against the Taliban – or God forbid – attack Muslims around the world.

This is a lesson to be learnt by all communities of faith for the sake of preserving peace in the world.

We recently carried out a further survey by asking a few local Buddhists for their response to the socks controversy especially if a similar incident happened with images of Buddha. Retired accountant and a Buddhist, Yong Tau (not his real name) said he “doesn’t mind the socks being sold in the market at all” but he would not be interested in buying the socks either.

This led to another Buddhist subject suggesting that these socks are probably targeted at the atheists. Buddhist lady Jinny Ciak (not her real name) said she, too, would not buy those socks herself but she did not dismiss the possibility that young people may be enticed to buy them.

Response from Christians

We also asked the views of Christians who share a lot of common values with their Muslim cousins on socks printed with either an image of Jesus or words such as “I love God.”

Jacob Chen of Damansara Perdana, for example, said: “Honestly, I’ll not wear any of these socks because as an Asian Christian, I respect the elderly or someone who is more senior than me. Wearing these socks does not make me feel holy. I only enjoy my intimacy with God when I pray or read the Bible daily.”

Author and media consultant Stephen Ng told FocusM that he can understand why Muslims in this country are reacting strongly. “This is because even Christians think it is a desecration of God’s holy name when an image of Jesus is printed on a pair of socks or even worse on an underwear.”

In May 2021, Sinar Harian highlighted the case of a supermarket in Sandakan that sold a branded men’s boxers which carry Quranic verses. The boxers were immediately removed from the shelves without the case being prolonged.

Although aggrieved that God’s name is profaned, as a Christian Ng contended that he would not retaliate. He would only sympathise with the person who profanes the holy name of God.

Quoting the example of a Firdaus Wong who was seen insulting the teachings of the Bible unprovoked, Ng explained: “In fact, I fear for him that in a matter of time, he will experience God’s wrath. There are many others in the past who have experienced God’s vengeance when they insulted him or his name.”

This, he continued, is because one of the Ten Commandments clearly spells out that “You shall not use the Name of the LORD, your God in vain.”

“However, we are also taught never to take (our) own revenge … but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

For this reason, Ng said, the best thing is to let God deal with those who mock him or his word. “The worst thing,” he opined, “is for us to err in our own judgement and punishing the innocent people.”

For this reason, amidst the socks furore, it is probably best to heed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s advice as the country upholds the supremacy of the Federal constitution.

The police have since completed its investigation and awaiting decision from the Attorney-General’s chambers on the case. – March 25, 2024

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