A rite of passage for Muslim boys

A rite of passage for Muslim boys

A rite of passage for Muslim boys

Thousands of Muslim Malaysian boys begin their journey into adulthood at mass circumcision ceremonies each year during school holiday seasons.

 

Md Nazir Sufari   |   17 Dec 2016

Fear means nothing to these boys aged from four to 12, who bravely face the ritual of berkhatan or bersunat (male circumcision) at Bandar Tun Hussein Onn in Balakong last Sunday.

Circumcision, usually performed on boys aged between six and 12 years, requires the foreskin of the penis to be removed.

It is believed that this will make it easier for the boys to clean themselves, especially after urinating. Islam demands that Muslims cleanse themselves before they pray.

Muslims make up 60 percent of Malaysia’s 30 million people.

Young Muslim boys are doused with water prior to a mass circumcision ceremony at Bandar Tun Hussein Onn in Balakong near Kuala Lumpur.

A boy covers his face with his sarong while being circumcised. It is traditional for boys to don the sarong during and while recuperating from circumcision.

A father consoles his son while medical officers circumcise the Muslim boy during the mass circumcision ceremony in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn.

Medical officers are silhouetted as they circumcise a Muslim boy during the event at Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, near Kuala Lumpur.

A Muslim boy is shown a video on a mobile phone to distract him during the circumcision procedure.

Some of the equipment used by medical officers during the circumcision procedure.

Four-year-old Amirul Daniel cries while being circumcised.

Twins, Muhammad Amjad Najdi Mohd Faisal (left) and Muhammad Ammar Najdi Mohd Faisal, recuperate after their circumcision.

Photographs by Md Nazir Sufari

5 Christmas gift ideas for your boyfriend

5 Christmas gift ideas for your boyfriend

5 Christmas gift ideas for your boyfriend

Well, it’s that time of year again. Holiday songs are playing, jingle bells are ringing, and shopping malls all across the world are breaking out the tinsel and Christmas trees.

Finding a good present can be hard, especially if you’re trying to impress someone. Guys in particular can be difficult to buy presents for, which is why we’ve made a list of gift ideas for your boyfriend or boy “friend” this Christmas.

1. Gadgets

Men love their technological toys.

Whether it’s the latest iPhone, a big screen tablet or even that shiny new X-box system, there’s bound to be some kind of gadget that they’d secretly love to own.

2. Let them make something

You know what guys like? Making stuff.

Look around and see what your man might be interested in. Give him the chance to unleash his inner child and create his own toys this Christmas.

3. Something stylish

Girls aren’t the only ones who like looking good.

A fancy suit can make a guy feel like a classy gentleman even if his bank account doesn’t have a dozen zeroes at the end.

4. A unique experience

Nowadays, everyone seems to be rushing around everywhere.

Whether it’s relaxing on the beach, visiting a museum or even playing a game of paintball, he’ll remember the experience long after he’s forgotten about that sweater at the back of his closet that his aunt gave him.

5. Cash

If all else fails and you truly have no idea what to get him…

Remember that everyone likes free money. Men are usually more practical than you think.

Do you agree? Share this with your friends and see what they think.

Zameen Datta, Intern, Malaysiakini

14 December 2016

5 Christmas gift ideas for your girlfriend

5 Christmas gift ideas for your girlfriend

5 Christmas gift ideas for your girlfriend

We all know how hard it can be to find that perfect gift for someone you like, so this year we thought we’d ask our female friends and colleagues what they’d like to receive for Christmas.

Hopefully, this will help you to find the perfect gift for your loved ones.

1. Fashionable

Cliche or not, most girls do like the idea of new clothes, jewellery and makeup.

However, what your girlfriend thinks is fashionable may not be obvious at first glance. Pay attention to the things she wears and buys and try to get something similar. If you’re still unsure, just get her a gift voucher from a clothing store that she likes.

2. Romantic

Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

Flowers and chocolate may be a little old fashioned nowadays, but many girls do enjoy being wooed. Just don’t be too cheap or you’ll look lazy.

3. Practical

Believe it or not, some of them prefer a gift that’s a little more practical.

Coffee machines, study planners, comfy new bedsheets and other useful items may not be as sexy as gold and jewels, but she’ll appreciate it nevertheless.

4. Made with love

On a budget? Why not try making a gift?

Don’t be afraid to get a little creative – a handmade gift may not be fancy, but it comes from the heart.

5. Spending time together

Still unsure what to get her?

Well, why not spend a little extra time with her this festive season? Take a few days off to go on a romantic date or an adventurous outing. As long as the two of you enjoy yourselves, it’ll be an experience she will remember for many years to come.

If you agree, share this with your clueless boyfriend now.

Zameen Datta, Intern, Malaysiakini

14 December 2016

5 signs that you’re an accidental hipster

5 signs that you’re an accidental hipster

5 signs that you're an accidental hipster

It’s one of the most hated modern trends around the globe.

Something that’s as old and tired as the felt jacket that you’d find in your local vintage store marked at an outrageous price. These inner-city individuals are all about ‘upcycling’ and artisanal foodstores, two words that make any sane person cringe.

But what can they offer to us? Or how have we adopted what the culture had to offer?

And most importantly, how are you a hipster without even realising it?

1. You take coffee seriously.

When does coffee move from a morning pick me up to an artisanal obsession?

It’s not just about finding the right brew, it’s all about the up-and-coming little cafe down a back alley that has the best cold press soy decaf latte with no froth and a shot of caramel. But you prefer it; mainly because that cafe has no people in it to annoy you, but also it’s good coffee.

2. Your coffee order is longer than five words.

If anything else comes out past 'take away cappuccino with one', that's a major sign.

Sorry, but you’re a bit of a hipster. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just as long as you’re comfortable with everyone rolling their eyes at you and cursing you under their breath.

3. All of your clothes at the back of your closet are in style.

The original 80's designed Adidas top is a treasure now

Time to get it out of the pyjama drawer and into the streets. You’ll be the envy of all your friends. People are paying good money for the retro look, think how much you’ve saved by being so lazy.

4. That single-speed bicycle you had as a kid?

Yep, it's back too. Get it out of the shed and onto the road

The more rust the better. Because bicycles with more than one speed are just too much of a hassle for your active inner city lifestyle.

5. It's not just an Instagram account!

It's a matter of life or death, as are all of your social media accounts.

You live by the words ‘prime time’ and abide by the unspoken rules of posting and captioning. Because everyone knows a good caption helps make the pic, and bring the likes.

The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, and making sure you have a supportive group of friends to stop you as you try to run back to that cold brew, or stop you thinking everything is Insta-worthy. You may not mean it, however, there’re worse things than branding yourself a hipster.

Lachie Durling, Student, Deakin University

3 December 2016

What do young people do with our free time?

What do young people do with our free time?

Millennials vs. Gen X

What do young people do with our free time?

Zameen Datta, Intern, Malaysiakini

25 November 2016

1. We spend far too much time online

Whether it’s chatting with friends on Facebook, watching funny cat videos on Youtube or spending hours playing LoL, we’re always doing something on the internet. Having access to free, instant entertainment is simply too tempting to pass.

2. We eat

Because even if you may not be able to afford a new house or car, pizza will always be there for you.

3. We work out

We understand that staying fit is important, so it’s important to go out and exercise regularly. Being healthy is not just about losing weight – it’s about trying to have a longer, happier life.

4. We travel around the world in 80 days

Well, maybe not all around the world, but every year more and more young people are going on trips abroad and drawing the envy of their friends by filling up their facebook pages with hundreds of pictures.

5. We give something back

Volunteering to spend an hour or two at a charity may not seem like much, but it can make a world of difference for someone less fortunate. Helping out at a local charity doesn’t just feel good either – it gives you something useful to add to your CV.

When discussing how millennials spend their free time, it’s important to remember that there are several factors that strongly affect how they act compared to the previous generations.

Many millennials have to contend with expenses that their parents did not have to worry about. The cost of education has risen sharply over the last few decade – in 2015, around 70% of American university students had debts to pay off once they graduated, forcing many of them to take low-wage jobs in order to start paying off their loans immediately. Even in the developed world, young adults are earning about 20% less than the national average. For the first time in decades, pensioners in wealthy countries have more money to spend than their younger counterparts.

Millennials have very limited spending ability compared to their parents and grandparents.

Many of them cannot afford large expenses such as cars or houses, meaning that any hobbies or leisure activities they wish to do regularly must cost as little as possible.

Enter the internet.

For many young people, the internet is a godsend. Free, unlimited entertainment, right at their fingertips? It’s no wonder why so many young adults seem to be addicted.

In fact, a recent study suggested that millennials in 2014 spent an average of 27 hours online each week. Whether it’s playing games, chatting with friends, or simply watching cat videos on Youtube, no matter who you are or what you’re interested in, the internet is simply so huge that you’re bound to find something to do online.

Another effect of the millennial generation’s lowered spending ability is the rising popularity of food fads. Even if they don’t have a lot of money, many people can afford to splurge on a good meal every now and again. Whether it’s gold-glazed donuts or monster milkshakes, people love to eat foods that look and taste different from the norm.

However, while everyone likes tasty food, there are a growing number of people who want their food to be, above all, healthy. Organic and health food diets are becoming increasingly popular – at least 21% of young adults in the Klang Valley say they have a vegetarian diet of some kind.

In fact, health and fitness in general is more important to the young generation than ever before. With all the information available to them, millennials are generally keenly aware of how easily sickness and disease can ruin their lives and as such tend to be more interested in trying to have a healthy lifestyle. Nowadays, being healthy is not just about losing weight or looking good – it’s about having a longer, happier life than you would otherwise have.

Millennials are more likely to have an active and health-conscious lifestyle. A report by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association found that in 2013 around 27% of people aged 21-30 belonged to a fitness club of some kind. Even those who haven’t joined a fitness club are likely to do some form of exercise.

As of January 2015, there were 50,000 health and fitness apps available in the Apple App Store.

The millennial generation’s desire to be fit also ties in with another popular leisure activity: travel.

Over the last few years, more and more young people have taken to travelling overseas – a survey by Topdeck Travel found that 94% of people who had travelled overseas at least once in the past year were aged 18-30; at least 30% of them travelled solo rather than with family or friends. However, before you assume that they are all wasting time and money on expensive holidays, it might be useful to understand why millennials travel so much.

For millennials, travel isn’t just about fancy hotels or lounging on the beach – it’s an opportunity to learn more about the world and experience things that they might otherwise never have the chance to see. 86% of millennial travellers said that their primary motivation was to “experience new cultures”, while 69% said that “eating local foods” was at the top of their lists. In contrast, things like partying (44%) and shopping (28%) are usually considered to be much less important.

In other words, young people don’t want to be locked into the normal tourist experience – they are willing to step outside their comfort zone and immerse themselves into new cultures and experiences. 78% of millennials say that they want to learn something new while travelling. For them, travelling overseas isn’t about leisurely holiday trips. Instead, they see it as a chance to meet new people and learn skills that might be valuable to them in the future while relaxing and unwinding.

Another way that millennials try to expand their experiences is through charity work. Despite the stereotype of millennials being lazy and self-centered, the truth is that many of them are far more generous than you would expect.

In general, young people tend to be more civic minded compared to the previous generations and are more passionate about changing the world.

A study found that millennials are very enthusiastic about helping others within their community and even abroad. 70% of college students believe that “it is essential or very important to help people in need” – the highest level since 1970. It’s not just talk, either; 83% of millennials have donated to a charity in the past, and nonprofit organizations received 1.3 million extra volunteers between 2007 and 2008.

For millennials, charity work is not just a way to feel good about themselves. They genuinely want to make a difference. While some are content to simply donate money regularly, many others prefer a more hands on approach – they’d rather go to a village to help build a house themselves than pay someone else to do it for them. This is partly because of finances (most millennials don’t have much money to spare), but also because young people want to know exactly how their donations make a difference.

Many of them also take the opportunity to spiff up their resume. Charity work gives young people a chance to meet new people and get involved in exciting projects, giving them new skills and experiences that they can add to their CVs. While many volunteers chose to donate their time because they genuinely wanted to make a difference, this gives millennials – many of whom may have trouble finding a good job – an extra reason to volunteer.

To sum up, the millennial approach to leisure activities may seem strange to older people because they have been shaped by the unique circumstances that millennials grew up in. Their low economic prospects and lack of financial freedom has caused many young people to avoid overly expensive activities. And when they do decide to spend a lot, millennials want to feel that they have gotten something more than the standard holiday experience.

Despite – or perhaps because – of their circumstances, millennials are at their core brightly optimistic. Even if things are difficult for them in the present, they work and strive to better themselves, always reaching for the future as best they can.

TECHNOLOGY

Things we know about technology (that our parents don’t)

LOVE & ROMANCE

Love and Romance in the new millennium

FUTURE

So… what now?

Love and Romance in the new millennium

Love and Romance in the new millennium

Millennials vs. Gen X

Love and Romance in the new millennium

Zameen Datta, Intern, Malaysiakini

17 November 2016

If you’re looking for love, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

1. Online dating websites may not be as useful as you think

Let’s try an experiment. Look at the people in the photo above. You have ten seconds to decide which of them is the most attractive to you.

Done?

Now let’s try it again. Look at the picture below and tell me which of these people is the most attractive to you. Remember, you only have ten seconds!

Harder, isn’t it?

With so many people to look through, you probably just glanced at each face and picked the first decent looking person who caught your eye.

That’s basically what online dating is like – there are just so many people available that trying to go through every single profile would be impossible. Instead, you skim through the list, ignoring anyone who’s profile picture doesn’t make them look like a front page supermodel.

2. That said, long distance relationships can be fun

Gone are the days when you’d have to wait impatiently for the postman to arrive. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to have a long distance relationship. With the widespread availability of programs like Skype, it doesn’t matter how far away they live – if you have internet access, you can talk to them all night long.

3. Friends before lovers

Many good relationships come from people who were friends before they got romantically involved. While the idea that opposites attract is often bandied about, in truth, knowing that both you have things in common makes the relationship that much smoother.

4. Living in Sin

A lot of us understand that marriage is a pretty big step. Living with someone for a few months makes it easier to see whether he or she is really someone you’d be happy spending the rest of your life with. A chance to see all each other’s quirky habits and get used to them before tying the knot should not be underestimated.

5. Just because your friends are getting married…

Doesn’t mean you have to.

Despite what some may think, we know very well that marriage is a big thing. That’s why we don’t want to rush into it. There are plenty of people who decide to put it off until they get older, or even decide not to get married at all.

No matter who they are or where they come from, everyone enjoys being in a loving relationship and experiencing a whirlwind romance. While we all look for love, people from the millennial and gen X generations go about it in very different ways.

There are a lot of stereotypes about millennial romance. Older generations may see their children as hedonistic, rushing into casual hookups and frequent acts of debauchery. One of the reasons for this belief is the fact that relatively millennials seem interested in starting a long term romantic relationship. According to the Pew Research Center, in the year 1960 59% of adults aged 18-29 were already married. In 2011, only 20% of people in the same age group were married.

In addition, many millennials tend to be more liberal than the older generations – according to research, 62% of millennials see no problem with sex before marriage while 56% think that there’s nothing wrong with same sex relationships.

This has led to the stereotype of millennials being the ‘hookup’ generation, always interested in inconsequential flings and one night stands. In reality, however, millennials actually tend to have less sexual partners compared to their parents and grandparents when they were at the same age. In 2015, psychological professor Jean Twenge conducted a study revealing that millennials have an average of about eight sexual partners during adulthood. In comparison, Baby Boomers had an average of eleven partners while Gen X had ten.

So why are millennials – the generation that invented Tinder and ‘Netflix and chill’ – taking so long to get together?

In short, society has changed. In the 1950s, women were expected to get married and have children right after high school. Nowadays, things are very different. In Malaysia alone, the amount of women who work has risen from 46.8% in 2010 to 54.1% in 2015. This means that more and more women are more willing to put aside marriage and children in order to pursue their careers. For millennials, the stereotypical high school sweethearts marrying after graduation is the exception rather than the norm.

Another reason is the rise of urbanisation and development of new technologies. In the past, most people would meet their romantic partners through family connections or community events. However, as time went on, more and more people are turning to online connections in order to find their partners. Dating services like Tinder have become very popular, with an average of over 50 million users per month in 2014 alone.

The rise of online dating has had several major effects on the dating scene.

For one thing, long distance relationships are becoming more popular than ever. In the US alone, over 14 million couples describe themselves as being in a long distance relationship. While some of these relationships do fail, they are actually in the minority, with more than 60% of long distance relationships surviving past the four-month mark.

Another effect of the internet dating phenomenon is that young people no longer have to settle for the first person who seems ‘good enough’. Instead, they can choose to look through hundreds or even thousands of online profile to find one that they like. This has its advantages – with all the information at your fingertips, anyone can find someone eventually. The problem, however, comes from the fact that there are too many options to choose from.

Take Tinder, for example. In 2014 alone, there were approximately 10 million people who used their accounts on a daily basis. That’s a lot of profiles to go through if you want to find your perfect Prince (or Princess) Charming. And this isn’t helped by the fact that a lot of the information that people put in their accounts may a little… exaggerated.

As a result, many people have begun looking for a relationship a little closer to home. According to a survey done in 2015, 38.6% of 18-34 year olds said that they’d met their significant other through a mutual friend. They were followed by 22.3% who said that they’d met in a “social setting” while only 9.4% of couples said that they’d met through a dating website.

Additionally, having a sudden, whirlwind romance may be rarer than you’d expect. 40% of 18-34 year olds said that they were “platonic friends” before becoming romantic. In comparison, 35% of relationships started from a series of formal dates while only 24% got together from hooking up.

What does this mean?

It seems millennials are far more picky about their partners; many of them don’t just want a one night stand, they want a soul mate that they can spend the rest of their lives with. Starting out as friends means that the relationship tends to be stronger – the two of you probably have similar interests, you know that you can get along, and you’re both aware of any annoying habits ahead of time.

Compared to the previous generation, millennials are not as worried about getting married and having children because they already know that neither of these things is a guarantee of love and happiness. Many of them are willing to take their time instead of rushing into something that they might regret.

While it is true that millennials are waiting longer and longer to get married, the bonds between millennial couples is stronger and longer lasting than ever before. In the last 50 years, the number of unmarried couples living together has skyrocketed up by 900% while the divorce rate has been dropping ever since the 1970s. In essence, by living together for years before tying the knot, millennials reduce the risk of their relationship falling apart in the future.

Despite the many stereotypes that seem to surround millennials, the truth is somewhat more complex. Like all stereotypes, the idea of millennials being the shallow “hook up” generation may have some minor basis in reality, but in the end we are all simply trying to find love, one way or another.

TECHNOLOGY

Things we know about technology (that our parents don’t)

LEISURE

What do young people do with our free time?

FUTURE

So… what now?

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