It was in a McD restaurant in Langkawi, about 3 weeks ago, and an Arab girl – about 7 years old – was kicking a cat although she tried to run and hide under the tables. The parents just watch their daughter mercilessly beating this animal up. Another guy saw this and was so mad at what he was seeing, her wife went and told the kid to back off. They took the cat back home.

That guy is my brother-in-law, his wife is my sister. The cat was named Mimi.

A few days after that, Mimi developed complications with her breathing. She was having laboured breathing and two days ago it was at its worst. X-ray revealed that her diaphragm that separates her lung and abdomen was ripped and her intestines are filling up her lung cavity. My sister and her husband flew her all the way from Langkawi to KL and did the x-ray yesterday. Today she’ll be having surgery. But the prognosis is not good.

All this could have been avoided easily – by that kid not beating up this poor animal. The parents could have just shouted at him or her and stopped the whole thing. How in the world could we watch our own kid beat up a helpless animal and not do anything about it? What are we teaching our kids today? That kid is a kid, and he or she may not have the matured capability of understanding moral and ethical concept, but surely his or her parents are. Her moral compass reflects that of her parents. I just couldn’t believe we can be so cruel to animal, even when they don’t pose any danger whatsoever to us. This is not self-defense. This is not for the greater good. This is just a mere, pure, plain cruelty. This, should not happen.

And all that’s left to it now is prayer.

Animals are being kicked, ignored and starved to death by the “loving” Malaysian community. Check out how stray dogs are being treated at the pound centers. It’s disturbing because many people think that this is government policy because Malaysia is an Islamic country. How can this be when Islam itself does not permit cruelty to animal, even dogs and pig? The sad thing is that this is so synonymous with being a Malaysian Muslim and hence the perspective that all Muslims hate dogs.

My sister said that Irshad (the naturalist) wanted to approach locals in Langkawi on treating animals humanely through teachings of religion. However, they found out that the local ustaz himself beat a puppy to death with one blow of a stick because the puppy lost his mother and found straying into surau compound. Yet these are the people we trust to teach our children proper conduct and religious expectations.

This is not what Islam teaches. This is far from what it condones.

I remember when I was a kid, I was cycling to the local surau for religious class (back then it was called Sekolah Agama Rakyat, SAR). Between my house and the surau there is this one wide field with an abandoned government servants home quarters on the other side. While I was passing the field, suddenly there were 5 or more dogs chasing after me, each looking as fierce as it could be. I remember cycling as fast as I can, with the dogs barely a meter behind me. I crossed over a short bridge, and they stopped chasing. My heart was pounding like hell, I was sweating, and I went to the surau for class.

When I came back, I told my mum what happened. Of course, being a responsible and loving mother that she is, she felt that she had to do something about it. So she called the city council and reported about the incident. The next day, the city council people came and shot the dogs.

I remember I felt pity for them, maybe even guilt.

But those were the dogs that chased after me for nothing. Those were the dogs that had I failed to get away from them, would bite and scratch me and caused me a great deal of injuries and pain. Perhaps there were numerous reports concerning the stray dogs in that area chasing after people and people’s kids. Perhaps the bullet those city council people used were tranquillisers, cause they picked up those dogs and put them in a van afterwards. There’s obviously safety reasons in that undertaking, that my mum called the city council people out of love and concern and responsibility, of worry that her son might not be so lucky next time. But what could, just what could a cat do to a 7-year-old that the parents allow their kid to beat it so mercilessly?

Some people’s action just doesn’t make sense.

My sister said she remember when she was studying at the same madrasah, we were instilled of the fear of dogs and how disgusting they are, how good it is to get rid of them. It didn’t make sense to her then – we’re not supposed to touch them, not squirm at their sight and kill them mercilessly – but because of the need to conform with the rest of the crowd and for fear of embarrassment of being scolded by the ustazah, she shut her mouth and ignore the common sense. There are only few of us who relies on common sense and think before taking in whatever our religious teacher says. When Muslim kids start associating animal cruelty with religious obligations, it’s really our own fault because we allow these seeds to be sown.

That’s why I never agree with parties using religion as their name, cause whatever they do will reflect the religion, and they, like all people, are not perfect. Those religious teachers really should not claim themselves as religious teachers when what they instil in people is far from the true religious teachings. Sure, dogs and pigs are considered filthy in Islam, but filthy as in its literal meaning – not clean. If we touch them with wet hands, we could not perform obligatory ibadah like solat until we cleanse ourselves, by rinsing it 6 times with plain water and 1 time with mud water. Islam did not even say that we cannot touch them. Instead, some muslims even have dogs at home, and this is permissible for certain reasons. There is even a recorded history in Islam that a prostitute walking back home found a stray dog panting in thirst. She then filled some water into her shoe and gave it to the dog. This act is praised by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and said that by God’s grace that woman will be admitted into Heaven. Islam reveres all living things as God’s creation, and we humans are trusted to be the stewards on this Earth, to take care of the wonderful creations God has created in and around us. This is the true teaching of Islam. Not beating cats and dogs to death.

My sister had quite a number of cats at home, and most of them are taken in out of compassion and love and pity. None of them were caged. They all are allowed to roam free in and out of the house, and yet they all are fed well daily and cleansed periodically. My sister spends a lot of money for their well-being, like flying one of them from Langkawi all the way to KL to try and save her. When one of them died, she cried as if she had lost a family member.

And just now I received a text message from her. Mimi didn’t make it.

Surely there are things to be learned in this unfortunate turn of events. Surely we all should stop for a while and re-examine how we treat animals.

Surely we, humans, can try and be a little bit human.