Despite Malaysia being heavily promoted as a tolerant multicultural, multireligious country, there are obvious undertones of tension among the younger generation, mostly fuelled by the racial politics and current issues that plague our headlines daily. It's a boiling cauldron of emotion that's waiting to blow over.
As I trawled through the political and religious internet forums on the Malaysian scene, I notice a particular trend of young Melayu threatening their perceived enemies with going amuk. They talk about blood parties like it's 1969, warning of uncontrollable rage. More worrying, is the trend of these statements coming blogs that are silat-themed or where the blogger is known to be a silat exponent.
It creates the impression that amuk is part of silat culture, when it in fact is diametrically opposed to it. The original meaning of amuk for Melayu is the sudden and unexpected burst of emotion that bypasses all reason. The pengamuk (person who runs amuck) will lash out at family, friends and just about anyone they can get their hands on because of a perceived dishonour or injustice.
The earliest recorded incidence of amuk in Malaysia is the well-known scene where Hang Tuah kills a pengamuk with an axe, cementing the difference between the conception behind silat and amuk, control and sanity.
Every silat style I have studied has always stressed on the idea of always being in the driver's seat, of beringat, of having that presence of mind. Amuk is nothing more than surrendering your mind to a berserker rage where nothing, no one is sacred. It is not part of silat.
What then, is? Adab (manners) of war.
The most powerful learning learning a pendekar can gain is by rereading the manner in which the Holy Messenger Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and his Companions (May Allah Be Pleased With Them) conducted their battles with the Quraish.
During a battle in the path of Allâh, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib ... found himself face to face with a kafir who attacked him violently. They were both brave and powerful men, but the kafir was no match for 'Ali, who soon was sitting astride his chest, ready to finish him off.
"I invite you to bear witness that there is no god except Allâh, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allâh," said Ali. "Accept Islam, and your life will be spared." "Never!" panted the kafir.
'Ali lifted his sword and was just about to plunge it into his enemy, when the kafir spat defiantly in his face. Much to the kafir's surprise, Ali immediately jumped away from his enemy and lowered his sword. "Go away!" said 'Ali, "I cannot kill you now."
"Why did you do that?" asked the kafir. "You could have killed me easily." "I was fighting you purely to seek the pleasure of Allâh," replied Ali, "but when you spat in my face, your insult made me angry and if I had killed you in anger, it would have taken me to the Hell Fire - so I had no choice but to let you go. To kill someone in anger or out of desire for revenge is not bravery, but the act of a coward."
This incident highlights that a pesilat has the responsibility to himself and his faith to be internally and externally consistent. The adab of war is outlined clearly in Islam and we should follow it as closely as possible.