A Muslim’s Response to Malay Girls Hugging Korean Singers Onstage

I have been very surprised and slightly disturbed at all of the controversy surrounding B1A4’s recent fan meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I am not Malaysian, nor was I at the event, but as both a devout Muslim and K-pop fan, I feel I need to say something.

For those just tuning in, K-pop group B1A4 held a fan meeting in Malaysia last week and since then have been under criticism due to their fan interactions. From what I’ve read, a few fans were chosen to come on stage and meet the members of the group. The members serenaded them, hugged them, gave them kisses on the forehead, and acted out some iconic scenes from the kdrama, The Heirs. Now, the B1A4 members have been accused of being disrespectful and overly intrusive as these girls appeared to be Muslim and wore Hijab. The girls have also been criticized for exhibiting what some Muslims find as “indecent” behavior.

Now, as a Muslim, I understand the discomfort. Muslims are generally discouraged from giving or receiving such close physical means of affection with members of the opposite sex outside of spouses and family. I admit that if it were me, I wouldn’t have been comfortable being in those girls’ place.

However, I was not the one on stage, therefore I cannot say whether or not the girls were comfortable with it. They chose to go on stage. They were asked if they were okay with participating. The people who planned the event knew from the get go what would be happening on stage and according to news outlets, asked the local officials multiple times if they would have a problem with anything and they said they did not.

That being said I don’t think the members of B1A4 should at all be criticized for their behavior. They do fan-interactions like this all the time, and even asked the girls if they were comfortable with participating. They were told what to do, which in other cultures is totally fine, and received no objection from the girls participating, so they had no reason not to continue with the show as planned.

On the flip side, I am simply appalled at the kinds of comments being made online criticizing the girls themselves, and I have to ask why? Why is everyone getting so angry, attacking the character of these girls for not being “Muslim enough” for other people’s standards? I have even seen comments criticizing the parents of these girls for letting them go on stage and participate. To those of you criticizing these girls and making assumptions about their spirituality, let me point out that you only witnessed one tenth of a second of all of those girls’ lives. You have no idea what their environment at home is. You have no idea what they may be struggling with internally. You have no idea what chain of events led them to be on stage at all. You have absolutely no justification to make negative assumptions about any of them. And how dare you criticize someone’s parenting when you only witnessed a single moment of their child’s life.

The most laughable part of this whole situation is that these girls are probably teenagers, yet people 20, 30, and 40 years old are making comments online criticizing these girls for not behaving the way some people think adults should act. Everyone is on their own spiritual journey, and everyone has their own interpretation of scripture. What you believe is proper Islamic etiquette may be very different from what someone else, of a different age and from a different culture, may deem as proper Islamic etiquette. Just as you are going through life, attempting to be the best person you can be, each of those girls is also trying to do the same thing. Don’t you dare say anything negative about them just because they may not be on the same spiritual level as you.

Since I was a young teenager to now, I know for a fact that I have changed in my attitude toward how I believe I should behave around men. For example, I went to a VIXX concert a couple of months ago and I had the opportunity to buy a pass to meet the members and high-five them backstage myself. However, after a lot of thinking I decided that I was not comfortable with that and went for a general admission ticket, but who knows if I would have made the same decision five years ago or if I will make the same decision five years into the future? And that is only me. I made that choice because I know my own limits. I would never judge another Muslim girl for making a different choice because I have no control over the limits she sets for herself, no matter how old or young she is.

Everyone who participated in the fan meeting made a choice. That is the beauty of free-will. We are all able to make choices, and from an Islamic perspective, God is the only being who can truly judge us for the choices we make. So to those attacking B1A4, the girls made their own choice to come on stage and participate in the fan-interaction. To those attacking the girls, who are you to judge them for the choice they made? Only God, and maybe their parents, can judge whether or not the choice they made was good or bad.

If we can take any lesson from this for the future, my advice would be for concert organizers to just avoid all of the drama and not have any type of physical fan-interaction at concerts in countries where the population is majority Muslim.

I would also ask of my Muslim brothers and sisters to please stop being so judgmental of our fellow Muslims. On the Day of Judgement, we are not going to be judged for what the girl across the continent did. We will be judged for how we acted in our own individual lives, including the way we treated our fellow human beings.

For further reading of this situation, someone posted a letter, “To the girls at the B1A4 concert,” which contains a similar message as mine.