Ultimatum

These are just plain opinions; they can be rejected, refuted, argued against or accepted. These words are not meant to impose my ideals upon anybody , and they are not going against the law of the diversity of thoughts~~

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Suicidal Penguins

When you stop caring for something you thought as important, usually nothing of consequence happens at all. Take for example the preservation of wildlife. Hawksbill turtles and rockhopper penguins never need anybody puncturing their bodies and putting electronic tags in order to survive. They’d do just fine being left alone.  If for example those wacky penguins do go extinct, it becomes a matter of complete irrelevance if I do not know, or I stopped caring.

                    It goes like this; if something does not exist inside our consciousness, they don’t matter at all. If the whole of humanity never ever discovered rockhopper penguins flailing about and throwing themselves off cliffs like bloody idiots, do they ever exist at all? I’m bad at explaining things.


               Have you heard of this? If a branch falls of in a forest , hitting a fat squirrel and killing it in the process, and nobody ever saw it or heard it, did the branch ever fall in the first place? What the hell am I saying. Of course it did, because I said so. It exists in my imagination, in my vision. The fat squirrel really died, unfortunately. In the case which nobody ever narrates the story of the heavy branch and the fat squirrel, did the incident ever happen at all?

               What I am saying is that something needs to exist in your consciousness for it to matter. If it doesn’t, then it does not matter  if it actually exist or not. This conjecture, of course, speaks about the standpoint of human beings. It does not take into account of squirrels, trees or suicidal penguins at all.

                When you fall in love , the subject of such intense feeling occupies a huge part of your consciousness. Even when you wish to write something about daredevil penguins , they got pushed away into the void and you start writing about love instead. Imagine a person’s consciousness as a huge house with a lot of rooms; but there is only one person living in that enormous place; the person himself. As with the case of any normal human beings, when you live in a house, you’d pick one room and live there (if you actually have the choice). You make that room yours, put your stuff in it, and stay in it a lot of time. Then there are places you would frequent; the kitchen, the living room, the toilet, or say, the library.


                        But there are all those other hundreds of room in your house, but you won’t go there much because nothing really interests you, or you have no reason to visit them. Such is a person’s consciousness; it’s a skulking mansion with hundreds of millions of rooms. Things that  matter to you sit in your favourite room; on your table or hung on the wall. Weird penguins probably sit in room number 200000, together with elephant seals and sperm whales. If  you love them enough penguins might creep under your bed.


                    When you stop caring about something or forget them, they either get sent into the most obscure , hidden rooms, or kicked out of the house. They don’t matter anymore. Nor is there any  reason that you forgetting them would bring any terrible or significant consequences. Like I said before, the poor penguins would just continue living as before. There are exceptions, of course, like forgetting to turn off the oven or starving hamsters in cages; those practical things.


                 There are a few problems regarding one’s consciousness taking the shape of a huge house with many rooms. First, you have little to no control to whatever comes inside and stays inside. Here’s a clich├ęd line; in this capitalist society, you see enough of an advertisement , and a brand stays plastered in your mind. Coca Cola and Colgate are plastered forever on the walls of your house. And penguins too, if you listen enough of David Attenborough. It’s not easy to remove them either. You have to demolish the house; have an amnesia or something or simply not think of them.  But then trying to forget, ironically, makes you remember them more.


                Secondly , you have no idea what others’ consciousness looks like. Not the slightest idea what their inner house looks like, what colour is it, how many rooms they have. Most of all you don’t know what’s inside; what is it that he put in his favourite room, or in the living room where he spends most of his days. There can be 10 meter tall emperor penguins with  crocodile tails who wear sunglasses for all you know.


              Therefore a person has no way of finding out what does a person care for, what are his true passions , who does he loves the most. You have no way of saying that a person does not care for another, or that he has kicked you out of his consciousness. Why do we always jump the gun and accuse someone of not caring and forgetting stuff? Perhaps there are too many things in his room that it gets too crowded and he can’t focus on each one all the time? We only have so many eyes and ears, oh lord.

      All you need is ask.

                 Also, if you decide to break away from someone because you thought he doesn’t care, that does not imply that you would be removed from his most important room. At the end it’s a man’s decision whether to keep you inside his mind or not. You have no power over that. You also have no power to prevent him trying to make amends and bring you back in reality, not merely in the rooms of his mind.


                Of course I made all this  up.  That does not mean that it’s untrue. This writing will stay here, and still exist, even if you refuse to read or believe in it, because I wrote it, and I do care. 

      

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Waddle waddle~

Spring is here. Again. I look at the cherry blossoms at the lakeside, and I feel  so  happy, and yet so sad. After months of cold winds, snow, dark days and dead trees, suddenly little flowers peeked from those lifeless branches. As the dark days  of winter turns warm, I say this to God,” What more do I ask from you?”

and he waddles away~

               But another spring means that another year had passed, which means that I am closer to death. I walk among the daffodils and the bluebells, and as the ducks waddle alongside me, I ask this; what have I done for the past year? Did I do  good?
           

           As a student, have I done all I could to learn? If I am a cherry tree, did my flowers bloom as well as last year? If I am a janitor, have I scrubbed all the necessary stains? And if I am a member of the parliament, did I attend all parliamentary voting sessions?
               It is because we know that we are going to die that we look back into our memories and calculate, whether the years of our life have made us into a better person, or whether they only add to our sins. Human beings are created with memories, an ability to remember things of the past. I am not sure whether ducks and cherry blossoms are able to reminisce about awkward things they did in the past, and flap their wings(or sway under the wind) in shame.

             But  memories also make people remember horrible things. To me ,the winter was a nightmare of cold and dead trees, and the university fields were full of dead trees and duck shit. The wives and kids of the  innocent men who were jailed for years without trial under the ISA( Internal Security Act ) would always remember the sins of the ministers and the cops who took away their beloved without justification. Hishamuddin Rais, or Tukar Tiub, when he came to Nottingham last year for the last round of his theatre told my friend that he still remembers the cockcroach that became his girlfriend in jail.


           Was the name Jessica? I don’t know. He said that he remembered the cop who did unspeakable things to him in jail, and as God decided it, Hishamuddin met the guy years later, who was then a taxi driver, in that man’s cab . Such a horrible man, who could stand torturing another, or putting people in jail without reason, turned out to be  a plain and ‘innocent’ man on the outside. I do not how did he felt back then; whether he had the urge to rip the driver’s throat, or whether he made peace with the past.


              Horrible was the ISA, but it is now a thing of the past. Yes, the families of the oppressed are still recovering from the injustice; the pain of separation, and the stigma that society smears upon ‘convicts’, but the ISA was erased from the constitution. When Mahathir said that he did nothing wrong during his rule, victims of his ISA  questions the integrity of his brain, and wonder if Mahathir has finally gone senile.


             After the demise of the ISA, the government’s power to put anyone who said too much became limited. The sedition act was limited , up to three years of jail, and 5000 in fine, and the persecutors must bring the case to court, before they can put you in jail. There was no trials under ISA; the government can practically put you in jail forever, merely under suspicion, because a police ‘believes’ that you are inciting violence or an insurrection.


                 Memories are horrible things, when the young wives of detainees under the new Prevention of Terrorism Act remembers the MPs who were absent yesterday   during the voting in Parliament. These vain little men, who swore in the name of God to protect the people, to bring them to heaven ,  couldn’t do so because they were ‘busy’. When the police round up innocent men and haul them off to jail, you tell their crying kids the names of the ones who let  this injustice happen. You tell their grief-stricken mothers , that the ones who represent Islam, good manners and character could not vote in the parliament for their sons, because they have other ‘pressing matters’. When their parties hold rallies in front of SOGO in their future against the POTA, you go grab the speakers from the politicians, and yell in their faces that they are responsible for this as well.



               The POTA is ISA incarnate; a board of terrorism prevention  appointed by the government ‘decides’ whether an accused is a terrorist, then he’s put in jail, under the name of national security. They can put anyone in jail forever, because the court cannot question the decision of the board. No court in Malaysia (not one, even the federal court) can review their decisions, or overturn the judgement.


                 Just picture this; the government can take your wife, your husband, your father, and even Dr Mahathir to this board, and put them in jail forever, and you cannot do anything. You cannot appeal in court, and no lawyer will be heard. If you are going to be active in Pas in the motherland, then by all means, remember this. Or don’t; it doesn’t make any difference.
                   
                 The civil society has no right to put someone in jail, or confiscate his property, merely for speaking out his mind.


                   First of all, the man and his opinion might be right. And if we put someone in jail because he said something true, then we are the ones losing. Imagine if the sultans of the past before Islam imposed laws against the propagation of religion, and the Muslims from Gujerat, or from China and the Middle East were killed because they spoke about Islam, how horrible would it be? Would we even be Muslims now?


             Secondly, if his opinion is wrong , and we put him in jail , then the civil society will still be at lost. Because a man who is incarcerated , or killed just for talking would attract followers and sympathizers. He is now a martyr, a symbol of the fight against oppression, and people would support his cause, even if he is wrong.


               If his opinion is wrong, there is no way to discover the truth , if he is killed, or put in jail. The only way to decide whether an opinion is right  is to let other opinions refute it and criticize it, the discussion must be let on its own, free and undistracted. This applies to everything; religion, race and ideologies. In the same way that we question our own faiths , to know whether it is true, opinions question each other, and the best argument would win, and only then would we discover the truth.


                  The  judgement of the Sedition Act is too arbitrary. The clauses are vague, and what is considered ‘seditious’ isn’t clear. Intentions does not matter (how do you  decide one’s intentions in the first place?) If the judge feels that you said something seditious , then you are put in jail. What kind of  law puts people in jail because someone ‘feels’ that you are guilty?



               Some people would say that some man’s speech, or drawing, or poetry might incite violence. I say this; an artist, a writer or a poet only express their feelings, their conceptions of society, and the ones who are responsible for the violence are the ones who interpret the writings , who somehow understand that “I must kill because this poem says so”. What responsibility does one hold, when someone else , with a healthy and functioning brain, chooses to be violent – when it is ultimately someone else’s choice?



                 Some other might say that it is the Sunnah of the reformers, of the prophets, to be persecuted for saying the truth. They say that truth will still win out at the end, so the sedition act , and the POTA, or SOSMA, or the ISA is only a process in reaching the truth. The ones murdered, the ones jailed  are necessary sacrifices on this road towards the truth. Like duck shits under the cherry trees; without those nasty things, the daffodils and the cherry blossom wouldn’t have bloomed so brilliantly. Have we forgotten how the Jews  were condemned to hell forever, because they murdered their prophets?


                       Yes, God said that the ones bearing the truth would be persecuted, jailed, roasted to death, tortured and exiled, but that doesn’t mean we should stay put and silent. What right do we have to let this people and their families suffer while we watch, while we defend our beloved politicians? What verse said that we should let this huge injustice happen again?


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Regarding Stairs

               There was once a guy who loved sitting on the stairs. He loved sitting on the stairs so much that he spent most of his life on the stairs. His name was Takashi Taro.


                        Taro read books and did his homework on the stairs. As a student at a university with many buildings, Taro found delight at the fact that there were as many stairs as there were buildings on the campus. When Taro was deciding which university he would apply to after his high school exam, the first criteria which entered his mind was the  existence of stairs and their abundance.

                  Taro couldn’t help but feel  aroused at the sight of stairs ,and he felt compelled to sit on it and get to know that set of stairs. Once when going to Athens  with a group of friends, they almost missed the flight, because Taro insisted on sitting on every flight of stairs available at the airport.


                     It’s not like Taro loved every form of stairs there is. For example , Taro hated escalators  with his guts , and  swore  to himself to never even stand on one. To Takashi Taro, the escalator is not a real staircase, but a traitor to the family of stairs because it is always moving, while his definition of stairs is one which stays put and silent. To Taro the stairs is a place of peace and self-contemplation. Taro thought it preposterous that a staircase would take upon itself to move people up and down between the floors, while it was originally made only as a static and silent way with  which human beings traverse. The best kind of stairs in Taro’s mind is the spiral staircase, perhaps because that kind of stairs is hard to find, or perhaps because of its unique shape. When Taro finds a  spiral staircase he would make sure to spend time sitting on every one of its stair. Perhaps sitting on each stair gives a different view of the world from the spiral staircase,but only Taro knows the reason why.


               Taro loved sitting on the stairs so much that he wrote a letter to the student union to ask that his classes be conducted at the huge set of stairs at the entrance of the monumental Portland building. His class of almost 200 students would sit on the stairs  like a choir ensemble, while their lecturer would stand at the bottom and preach. He wrote that students should be allowed to enjoy the sight of the yellow trees of autumn infront of the Portland building,  and to watch the grey geese and the majestic swans spooning for food while learning. He added that watching yellow dead leaves fall to the ground  would remind the students that life is short and death is always coming, so  they should study properly.


                 Fortunately  his suggestion was rubbished by the administration, because autumn at the campus is cold as hell, and nobody would ever want to study outside. When Taro asked the Dean himself to let them have their class on the stairs inside the building instead, the  Dean told him to get lost and to never bother coming to his office again.


                   Taro tried to explain to the Dean the benefits of sitting on the stairs and its pleasures, but the old guy got mad and told him to go and screw himself.


                   First of all Takashi Taro did  not understand why other people could not understand the pleasures of sitting on the stairs. Taro finds himself unable to concentrate on his work if he’s not on the stairs. When he  wished to call his family at home or his long-distance girlfriend, Taro would first sit on the stairs and make sure that his feet were firm and comfortable on the stairs.             


                    Unlike chairs and sofas, not many would sit on the stairs, and nobody would ever take his place as the stairs-sitter. But of course sitting on the stairs gave Taro a lot of problems. Sitting on the stairway  , most of all , blocks people’s  way, and you are a  bound to be yelled or kicked at if the staircase is narrow. “Why would you sit on the stairs when there’re so many chairs in the house?” , was a question Taro was sick of hearing everyday. Why couldn’t people appreciate his beloved stairs?


                  An addiction with sitting on the stairs might also exude signs of antisocial tendencies, 
even though Taro had a good composure and  was able to conduct lively conversations with all sorts of people. Taro almost lost his girlfriend when he went to her parents’ house for the first time. While her family was sitting at the living room with Whitehall tea and butter cookies on the table, Taro was sitting at the stairs to the second floor , beside the daughter’s bedroom.  Taro was answering the parent’s questions about himself and his family by shouting from the stairs, which was about ten metres from the living room.


                 Obviously the parents were freaking out about the apparent fact that their daughter was dating a weird and socially-impaired kid. Taro had tried to resist himself at first , but the sight of the stairs covered with velvety red fabric and the railings painted in golden gloss was too amazing to behold. The red carpeting was decorated with flowery patterns of yellow thread.Unlike those dirty stairs at the campus and dusty carpets on the stairs at his friends’ houses, this one was outrageously clean, and the fabric smelled of lavender and of the evening rain.  It was a set of stairs which was one in a million of stairs, and at that moment Taro decided the third reason to marry his girlfriend; to be able to sit on that particular staircase.


                   Taro was lucky that his girlfriend was understanding, and that she was quick to fix the situation. Taro is, even with his strange love of stairs, a nice and responsible man, and the girlfriend was quite happy to ignore his stair-loving tendencies . She said that Taro had a stomach ache, and that he had a problem to hold in his farts, which was not really a lie. She said that Taro had a complex about sitting around people when he has a stomach ache, and that was the reason Taro was sitting on the stairs like Humpty Dumpty  sitting on a wall. That was how his love of stairs almost lost him his girlfriend. 


                    Taro’s habit of sitting on the stairs almost cost him his friends as well.  When the university sophomores set a welcoming party for their juniors at one of the frat houses, Taro sat on the stairs instead of playing games and eating crisps downstairs. Everyone thought that he was just an introverted kid who had  an aversion towards crowds, but his  good nature and his being adept in holding conversations helped sort things out, although he was conversing with others from the top of the stairs. He took a cup of juice and a piece of cake, and sat on the stairs like it’s the most natural thing to do.


                          Things get weird when I first went to Taro’s house and found him sitting on the stairs. He made me some tea and put Jaffa cakes on the table, then nonchalantly went back to sit on the stairs. “There’s a plug for my phone  at the top of the stairs, that’s why I’m sitting here,” said Taro so casually, it made me think that sitting on the stairs is the most ordinary thing to do. His housemates were apparently quite annoyed with the fact that there’s a guy blocking their way to the toilet, but they got tired of him telling them about the pleasures of sitting on the stairs that they just let him be.


                  When Taro came   to my house a few days later, with a  plastic bag full of seedless grapes, I was anxious because my house doesn’t have any stairs. He went in and discreetly looked around for his seat of honour, then let out a  small sigh. That day was the first time I saw Taro sit on a sofa, and he looked so displeased with himself, he kept fidgeting about , and finally sat down on the floor. I put it in my mind then to find a house with a beautiful staircase for the next year.


                    Taro once almost lost his life because of his peculiar habit. It was during the depth of the winter of his first year, when Taro went to the city to find a vacuum cleaner for his stairs at home. That winter was a harsh one, with temperatures going negative most of the time. The roads were slippery with frozen rainwater, and our houses set the heaters on full power. That winter night Taro rode a bus to the city’s old market to look for cheap vacuum cleaners , and he got off at the Old Market bus stop.


                 On his way to the electronic shop Taro saw the steps to the entrance of a particularly ancient building. I think it used to be a old post office in the 18th century,and  now it houses a bookshop. The steps weren’t decorated with marbles or anything, it was just a simple arrangement of bricks, covered with moss and blackened with time. “I felt the stairs calling out to me,” said Taro , a few days after the incident. “They have been there for hundreds of years, those poor steps, but nobody has bothered to sit on them for a very long time.


                        I felt a very strong urge to sit on the steps and to imagine the stories behind its existence. Stairs are lonely beings , you know,”said Taro in a-matter-of-fact tone. “Stairs and roads have similar functions, to connect people from one place to another. Because roads are usually long , people stop at the roadsides to rest, and others build shops and houses and restaurants alongside the road, so roads don’t get lonely as much. Not many people  would sit on the stairs because it blocks people’s way , and thus they function as nothing else but as a way”


                   “That’s why I feel enchanted with stairs, and I must sit on them. You know, stairs do remember every shoes that stepped on them and their owners, every kind of stinky feet, be it human beings, cats or dogs. The steps to that old building had existed for so long that it hold within itself the history of the city itself. I sat on the stairs and saw a black and white image of a young woman in a Victorian  gown with an envelope in her clutches. Her face was brimming with happiness. Then I saw an old man with a top hat in the memory of the bricks, who struggled with his cane up the steps , only to slip and fell on his head, which burst open with blood.”

                   “There were all sorts of men and women who had walked upon the stairs, and all kinds of dogs; German sheperds, daschunds, bulldogs and terriers. It was fascinating.”


                  Takashi Taro went to the city and sat on the stairs. He forgot his initial objective of getting a vacuum cleaner for the stairs at home, and he found himself lost in his conversation with the ancient steps. He only realized that it was late midnight when it started snowing. The shops had all  closed, and there were no more buses for the night. Taro was alone, with the stairs. He tried to call the taxi,  but they refused his call because the heavy snow was making the roads too dangerous  to drive. Taro called me and other friends , but it was so late that nobody was awake.

              It was an old hobo who found him in the wee hours of the morning, almost frozen to death. Why he wouldn’t just walk that night to a nearby house for shelter was beyond me. Apparently the old hobo , experienced with freezing to death while living on the streets, put Taro on his  back and ran all the way to the city hospital.
           

                      That’s the story of how Takashi Taro, the guy who loved stairs almost lost his life. The doctors had to cut off two of his fingers and one of his toes because of frostbite.  Silly Taro, stairs aren’t living beings, and they don’t talk to people.
FIN

                 

            

Sunday, 7 December 2014

When economists in cosy seats plan for the poor

Among the job of an economist is to gather economic data of the population in the past and present such as income, capital and population growth, and explain the conditions of the people.


He explains whether the income distribution is equal, whether the prices have risen or fallen in real terms, and so on.

A timeline analysis would show in gross terms whether the quality of life has increased or not, as he makes comparison between the living conditions of the present and the past.

My grandfather was a poor man with 8 children, and he worked as a trishaw peddler. My uncles who wanted a bicycle to go to school used to scavenge dumpsites to search for bike parts, and construct a working bicycle from scraps.

Meanwhile, his grandchildren is currently studying overseas using loads of taxpayer’s money and wasting every penny. Relatively, I would infer that living standards have clearly risen to unthinkable levels.

But it is not enough, and it is not fair for economists to compare living standards simply by such narrow and simplified examples; there are many other questions to be asked.

For example, is the increase in living standards the same across the region? What about Sabah and Sarawak? Have they been able to enjoy the same prosperity? While we amuse ourselves with skyscrapers in the capital, and scatter railways all over the west coast, there are still villages without electricity and water, not to mention internet or the obligatory bridges present in every by-election.


Is the living standard the same among the races, and between the states? Have the children of other families receive the same opportunities that I have gratefully received, and were 
they subjected with the same judgement over their merits and achievements?


It is true that economists and policymakers in the capital, in the cosy Prime Minister’s Office and Bank Negara, do their jobs real good, that they can be textbook examples.


According to the textbook, of course, oil subsidy is something irrational. It is not something a homo economicus would choose in an economy. Rather than waste taxpayer’s money, with the subsidy which pays even the rich, it is better to give people direct cash handouts, or so they said.


Of course, it’s true, because in the economics textbook it clearly shows in the graphs that subsidies cost much more than cash handouts, although both ultimately bring the same effect.


But surely, surely these economists should have realised the effect of oil prices on the prices of pretty much everything else- or are they living in a different world?

It is inevitable that GST is a better system than the SST, because nobody ever will be able 
to avoid paying tax. Previously, only the rich paid the tax, and now, as a sign of equality, even the poor in slums have to pay too. We supporters of equality must submit to  the system.


It is not enough an explanation when you tax people, that GST is a better system simply because hundreds other nations use this system. It is also not an acceptable reason to say that GST is a system that makes it easier for the government to collect tax.


Who gives a damn about that? The government is adding to the burden of the people, and we should accept it, because GST makes it easier to make people suffer more?


These policies are made by rich economists, the urban rich, the bourgeoisie, industrial capitalists for their brethren, and other rich capitalists.


Sprawled in the backseats of luxury cars, in black suits and leather shoes, in this suffocating hot tropical country, they are truly living in another dimension. They are unable to see how different are the living standards, even between urban citizens, not to mention the ones across the Titiwangsa mountains.


It is unconceivable that these policies would be agreed upon if policymakers truly live among the masses and understand the  struggles people made to make ends meet.


Have they been representatives who are more than VIPs in public ceremonies and random faces on Eid banners, I wonder what kind of country would we be now.


If only they could see how the economy treats people as commodity, and when the capitalists deem labour as useless, they are thrown away to starve. 

When these rejected people who can’t afford houses due the high rent, they seek the streets and under the bridges as their beds, but even then, in the lowest of honour, they are caught and put in jail.


Because they are poor, because they are homeless, and because it is an eyesore for the urban rich to see people sleeping under the bridges.


It should not be a surprise when some people think it appropriate to slap the PM’s picture with a slipper, when his minister showed up in the news asking people to bring packed lunch to work.


Thanks Mr Minister for the tip, but when you showed up in your expensive suit, shiny glasses and immaculately trimmed hair, it is a mockery, a humiliation to the burdened massed, especially at a time when your rich brethren are asking for a pay raise.


Remember that when Mary Antoinette told the starving masses who were asking for bread in France “Let them eat cake”, they cut off her head.


Of course  we are not keen to cut anybody’s head, not yet currently, because Malaysians forgive and forget all the time, and we tolerate almost everything.  But remember, our patience has its limit. – 16 October, 2014.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/when-economists-in-cosy-seats-plan-for-the-poor-ahmad-ibrahim-zakaria#sthash.R3hfF5ie.h5YDJf2q.dpuf

A response to IRF’s view on secular state

June 4-2014
I write in response to Islamic Renaissance Front's (IRF) reaction to Pembela, published in The Malaysian Insider yesterday.
I am not affiliated with Pembela or IRF, nor I am interested in their squabbles about the word "secularism" in our Constitution, but I feel obligated to comment on IRF's statement that only a secular state can provide religious freedom.
IRF seems pretty bent to prove that the Constitution provides the basis of a secular state, and because our forefathers have strived to achieve such agreement, we should follow suit, as the Constitution has decreed so.
I see no difference between advocating for a secular state because the Constitution somehow meant so, and the way pre-Islamic Arab societies worshipped idols because their grandfathers did so centuries earlier.
With this obsession with secularism, IRF has found a new idol to worship, and the way the article emphasises that only a secular state can provide religious freedom seems to undermine our own religion.
"And only in a secular system can Muslims be free to practice Islam exactly as they see fit and out of their own conscience, and not state coercion.
"And only in a secular system can non-Muslims be at peace without fear of their rights being compromised and erode," it said.
Secularism emerged as a resistance against the despotism of the church in Europe. The kings relied upon the "divine will" to gain legitimacy, while the clergy acts as if they were direct representatives of God. Countless men and women were oppressed under the name of religion, and thus the people sought to separate religion from the state and their livelihood.
Why should Islam go through the treatment of secularism, if such religious despotism did not occur in the first place?
Prophet Muhammad had offered freedom of thought and belief during the foundation of the city-state of Madinah, hundreds of years before the word "secularism" was coined. Non-Muslim were part of the shareholders in the Madinah Charter, and they were considered part of the Ummah, responsible upon the development and security of the state.
Under which rule did the Jews live in peace and harmony in Jerusalem? What kind of government was it that allowed Christians to coexist with Muslims in Cordoba? I am pretty sure it was not Ferdinand of Aragon.
The notion that only under secularism can ensure religions thrive is absurd and unacceptable. How could an ideology that seeks to remove religion and its values from the people ever be thought of being beneficial? I am not sure what kind of secularism does the IRF interpret from our Constitution, but secularism in France have seen Muslims being prevented from practising their religion freely. In Britain, religion is mocked and ridiculed by the people.
How could secularism create a country where religions can be practised freely, when the philosophy that came with it makes people skeptical to religion and abhors the mere mention of religion?
IRF, in the article, states that there is no compulsion in religion, then suddenly proposes that only secularism can provide such condition. This is a contradictory statement, and it shows how IRF is currently plagued with inferiority complex.
It is normal for occupied and defeated nations to emulate the example of the imperialists, and to assume that the creed that they had had for so long is somehow wrong or weak.
Rachid Ghannouchi wrote about "tawahush", which is about the return of mankind to the state of nature, or barbarity. Without religion to enhance good values inherent in mankind, they would become materialistic beings which lack compulsion to do good and prevent wrongdoings.
Family relations and bonds have collapsed under the secular system, while people living in close proximity don't even know the names of their neighbours. The state has to use all means possible to pacify the people; namely violence and welfare. We have seen how their societies broke into riots and uncontrollable mobs once the economy dips and their welfare is being reduced. This is the effect of secularism which separate people from religion and its values.
Therefore it seems naive to propose that religions can thrive under a secular state, or suggesting that the ideology brings benefit to the nation. It is an ideology which seeks to distance people from their Creator; a belief of emptiness and loneliness, for what would their lives mean without a vision beyond the world of the living?
The IRF need not worry itself over the making of the nation as a secular state, as it already is. Ghannouchi, however, names the form of secularism which exist in our country as pseudo-secularism, where instead of separating religion from the state, the government institutionalised every religious organisation there is, therefore making them instruments of the government, and effectively useless.
The government has done very well to incapacitate the role of Islamic clerics in a civil society, by limiting their works to finding pork in chocolate and raiding weddings, way better than a mass murder of Muslims.
It is due to this great evil that Islam is being trivialised and ridiculed by the masses, and the reason why IRF ran to the hands of secularists.
Jakim and other Islamic institutions should have been the main component in a civil society, working towards the eradication of poverty, and acting as a counter to the powers of the government. Religious institutions should be run independently by Islamic intellectuals instead of being an instrument of the government, and this is the only form of separation of state from religion which is acceptable. – June 4, 2014.

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Reply by Dr Farouk Musa of IRF
What is obvious at first glance to Ahmad Ibrahim Zakaria’s response is that he doesn’t seem to understand why in the first place Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) issued such a statement. The statement was in response to Pembela’s challenge to prove that the term "secular" was stated in the Constitution. The sudden realisation that the word "secular" was not in the constitution was from the "revelation" by none other than Professor Shamrahayu Aziz during a seminar.
What we stated was obvious: that the word "secular" does not need to appear in the Federal Constitution since the interpretation is made by the contents of the Constitution. But we expanded the statement to touch on Article 3 that is pertinent to the topic being discussed.
And it is obviously malicious to associate the statement for advocating a secular state to that of the Arab societies worshipping idols because their grandfathers did so centuries earlier, since the Constitution was already meant for a secular state. The issue at hand is that Pembela denied that the Constitution had laid the foundation for a secular state. And that very fact triggered the whole debate.
Ibrahim made the same mistake as many other Islamists in thinking that secularism was anti-religion. While secularism in the form of laicete is antagonistic towards religion, what IRF is promoting is a passive secularism, a secularism that is neutral towards religion.
This is similar to what was said by Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of Hizb en-Nahdah (The Renaissance Party) when he stressed that there is no inherent incompatibility between Islam and secularism. And he defended a degree of separation between political and religious affairs in what is known as as-siyasi (the political or profane) and ad-deeni (the religious or sacred).
A state should be secular in the sense that it is neutral to all the differing religious doctrines. It does not mean the exclusion of religion from the public life of a society. The misconception that it does is one of the reasons many Muslims tend to be hostile towards the concept.
As Abdullahi An-Naim argued, state neutrality is necessary for true conviction to be the driving force of religious and social practice, without fear of those who control the state.
And typical of any Islamist argument is to cite the history fourteen centuries ago where freedom of thought and belief was the foundation of the city–state of Madinah. While nobody denies the fact that it was the main foundation laid by the Prophet, circumstances at large today are a far cry from such a situation.
Unless Ibrahim is living in a vacuum, freedom of conscience and religion is gradually being eroded in the 21st century in this country called Malaysia and being felt by many; not only the non-Muslims but also Muslims of other denominations than that of the mainstream endorsed by Jakim and Jais.
I do not have to cite the numerous inexhaustible examples and the trend is very worrying so much so that some have even envisaged that very soon this country will become the next Taliban state, but of course with a Syafi’i flavour.
And yes, no matter how absurd it might sound to Ibrahim and the like, we stand by our argument that only in a secular state can religions thrive.
This argument does not arise from an antagonistic attitude against piety but from a true appreciation of what piety is all about: a sincere belief free from coercion. Any regime that imposes piety because of the belief that it is part of the doctrine “commanding the good and preventing the wrong”, for instance, is basically creating a community of hypocrites instead of instilling genuine piety.
Genuine piety only arises through personal choice. And that choice only becomes possible when there is freedom.
In other words freedom to sin is a necessary medium to be sincerely pious. The erudite Muhammad Asad made it very clear when making his commentary in his magnum opus The Message of the Quran regarding verse 25 of al-A’raf or Faculty of Discernment where he commented on the story about the temptation of Adam and Eve, saying:
“The growth of his consciousness – symbolised by the willful act of disobedience to God’s command – changed all this. It transformed him from a purely instinctive being into a full-fledged human entity as we know it – a human being capable of discerning between right and wrong and thus of choosing his way of life. In this deeper sense, the allegory of the Fall does not describe a retrogressive happening but rather, a new stage of human development: an opening of doors to moral consideration. By forbidding him to 'approach the tree', God made it possible for man to act wrongly, and therefore, to act rightly as well. And so man became endowed with that moral free will which will distinguish him from all other sentinel beings.”
And to us, the only way forward is to allow a space for intellectual discourse and to respect religious rights and freedom of conscience and expression, which is clearly wanting.
Islam and true religiosity could thrive better in a secular state that breaks down the monopoly of religious truth. It is a space needed for a Muslim to live a life based on his own free will and true conviction, not because of the state’s imposition.
Secularism, as the separation of state from religion, is probably the minimum requirement for participation in the sphere of civic reason.
Secularism needs religion to provide moral guidance for the community and in turn, religion needs secularism to mediate the relations between the different communities that share the same political space and space of civic reason.
Secularism is able to unite diverse communities of belief and practice into one political community simply because the moral claims it makes are minimal.
And secularism is able to tolerate differing view in a religiously diverse community while maintaining its political stability. Such a situation is probably just a dream in an autocratic Islamic state envisioned by many Islamists, including Ibrahim.
And only in a secular democratic state will all citizens, believers no less than non-believers, and even believers from the various denominations, Sunni and Shiite alike, have the same basic reason to embrace the right to religious freedom.
They will have total freedom from a government that wants to behave as an arbiter of religious truth or worse, a government that manifests its coercive power to impose religious authority and uniformity. – June 5, 2014.

Problem Statement



              Allah tells us to walk upon the face of the earth  and observe the collapse of past civilizations a few times in the Quran. Surely this does not mean that we should merely plan holiday escapades when winter comes, but we are asked to critically search and question the fate of people before us, and to learn lessons from them. Dead people tell no lies.


Sahih International
Say, [O Muhammad], "Travel through the land and observe how was the end of those before. Most of them were associators [of others with Allah ].
(Ar-Rum- 42)
 
                    From this sprung up the need for archaeologists, historians and sociologists in this religion, ones who can decipher the meanings of things and languages of the past, so that we can learn, instead of only knowing the general idea of history in passing. The damned Pharaoh knew about the people who came before him , and yet he learned no lesson- no , he refused to learn, and the end he received was then justified.


Sahih International
[Pharaoh] said, "Then what is the case of the former generations?"
(Taha- 51)

              The prophets of the past , presented in the Quran ,over the generations and among different civilizations, showed the same pattern  of thought and action. Although they were separated by years between them , or distance between the sprawling deserts, they were men who brought message from the same God, bearing the same principle and belief- which says that God is One, and there’s no God but He.

             Surely if we wish to learn from the past, we need to observe the regularity of their actions, and patterns of their behaviour. Similar to the behaviour of friends and people around us; in order to know them and be closer to them, we observe their general behaviour and patterns of their thought; things they like to do, or things they hate. It shouldn’t be weird then, to know people of the past we observe things they did with regularity, their philosophy and pattern of thought.

          Regarding the acts and thoughts of the prophet, of things he does regularly, we have in fact known this quite well. Our Islamic scholars name the thought and speeches of the prophet as the Hadis, and his acts and examples as the Sunnah.

         There is a similarity of thought and action of the prophets from different ages that we must observe. This is the Sunnah of the prophets, of which most if not all of them follow the same pattern. Surely if we learn from the previous civilizations not to repeat their sins and wrongdoings, we must also follow the example of the prophets? Viewed from a purely Manichaean world, the prophets are the forces of good , and their disobeying counterparts as forces of evil.

                        What is it that we must follow, what is the regular pattern of the prophets? That is that they came with problem statements, and as provider of solutions. What we must understand that the prophets did not come out of nowhere. They aren’t outsiders in their community. The prophets did not just descend from the skies with holy books and instructions.

 In fact the prophets spent their childhood and their youth amongst the people of their nation. They grew up accustomed with the traditions and the patterns of behaviour of the people. Prophet Muhammad grew up to be the most trusted man in the whole of Makkah, they called him Muhammad Al-Amin.

        What we need to understand is that the prophets who lived in the community understands the problem of the nation and as a messenger of the God, he begins with the problem statement; and the problem statement must come with experience and a thorough understanding about the people . Prophet Shuaib explained to his people that they should be fair in trades and not to cheat in their dealings. Prophet Lut said to his people that they must  stop choosing men over women, and Musa alaihissalam stated that Firaun must release his clutches and tyranny upon Bani Israel, and that he must fear Allah. 
Sahih International
Give full measure and do not be of those who cause loss.
(Syuara’- 181)

        In the surah Al-Qasas it is stated how  Firaun is a tyrant  who divides the people apart , and Allah wishes to favour and bring justice for the mustadh’afiin, the ones who were oppressed under his rule.


Sahih International
Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their [newborn] sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters.



Sahih International
And We wanted to confer favor upon those who were oppressed in the land and make them leaders and make them inheritors
(AL-Qasas)-4-5

                   I believe that this is the Great Sunnah of the prophets that we must follow- we must be the ones who understand the social structure and culture of our people, and by understanding the people we might discover what is it that plagues the nation and oppresses the people, so that we might be able to come with a problem statement. What is the source of all these hunger and suffering, of the corruption and the lack of integrity?

                   Frantz Fanon wrote in The Wretched of The Earth, in the chapter The Pitfalls of National Consciousness, regarding the crisis in post-colonial countries, after they achieved independence. He wrote about young nationalist bourgeoisie who replaces the colonials before them as the new rulers of the independent nation. These are privileged men who had the opportunity to study in the colonials’ mother country, to learn in their great universities all sorts of knowledge.

                       Frantz Fanon called them bourgeoisie of the under-developed nations. Fanon wrote that the crisis of national consciousness after independence is that the people who were previously united in their fight against the imperialists, now descend into terrible racism , sectarianism and religious separatism . Whose fault is this? It is the fault of the new rulers, the young bourgeoisie , who are disconnected from the masses, who fail to educate the people regarding the building of a nation.

          The laziness of this privileged people, the scepticism with which they view the people- saying that villagers are a lazy bunch , and unable to understand things like national unity and progress, says Fanon. Because the bourgeoisie are unable to educate people and to come with problem statements and solutions, tribe leaders and heads of religion who were alienated during the fight against the colonials, now starts to grow in influence , and we see the people separated into race and religious groups, each being antagonistic to each other.

                    Frantz Fanon wrote this almost sixty years ago, during the height of the Algerian war for independence, yet we see these symptoms now , in our country. And whose fault is it?

              We economists, engineers, lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, biologists, teachers and accountants who have the privilege and the opportunity all this time, we must strive to follow the Great Sunnah of the prophets. Who else would be available to come up with the problem statement of our nation, other than those who studied extensively in the workings and culture of the society?

        What I wish to say after so long and so many confusing terms is that we need writers. Write about the problems of our nation, not about trivial issues which pop up every two weeks, or stories about your experience in  kindergarten. We do not need that.  The prophets did not come to dictate how should we sit in mosques, or whether we can touch dogs or not. Write about the problems of our nation, based upon a sincere observation, with a heart which wishes truly for the salvation of all.


        

Friday, 28 November 2014

Filling the Gap

         When you are empty , there is nothing you can give. If you have nothing, then you can’t give anyone anything. It’s a simple rule. It applies upon charity and alms-when you have no coin then there’s no coin you can give. Screw those poor people, when we ourselves are poor. Of course that’s plainly obvious, but this concept applies to much more.  


                       The law applies to ideas and knowledge as well, and again it is as plain as day. If I have no idea what the heck is a perfect multicollinearity, then I can never ever tell you about it, unless if I learn about it myself. If I wish to speak about liberalism, then I myself should have read on it, questioned its foundations and principles , and critically evaluate the idea. Of course I can share ideas with others while  knowing nothing about it, through mere repetitions, like a parrot. There are hundreds of slogans I can just memorize and rephrase if I wish.


                        I can say that liberalism is the enemy of the country and religion, and there’s not many people who disagree, because it’s the general idea. I can say that the Penang Chinese are corrupt bastards  and I would even get praised for that. But these; mere repetitions of baseless slogans and deceptions are the very signs of emptiness-people who have nothing in their minds , and are envious to the ones who have ideas.  Empty ideas are either baseless assumptions or mere lies, and I must not tell lies.


       I put great hope in the words of a senior that empty souls can’t give anything to anyone, and I sought to fill myself. I read many kinds of things from many sorts of knowledge, to find something that can fill a soul, so that I can give to others. Reading old books which I can hardly understand feels pretentious as hell, because it really is a phony thing to do. And they do not provide answers to my questions.


                  Sartre’s Age of Reason, for example,  has its characters questioning their very existence, the significance of their lives as stardust, and the relevance of it all. The book only questions, it does not provide answers. Reading a novel about  existentialism makes you feel empty, it does not fill you with nourishment.  


            Chomsky’s work make me feel alienated. He wrote about social libertarianism and Spanish anarchists among other things, of which I have not seen or experience myself. Chomsky quoted Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia in On Anarchism about the Spanish Civil War; “ I have breathed the air of equality”- or something like that, to describe the atmosphere in Catalonia. Can you see how abstractly vague is that? How does the air of equality smell? It doesn’t stink does it? It feels like he’s writing about ghosts and its conceptions, for people who believe in ghosts.


         I’m sorry for being such a petty human being. My pettiness is the source of this emptiness, because I cannot appreciate the value of all the small pleasures that I have.
                   

                 It’s not  simple work. Most of the old writings are nearly unintelligible, their writing style archaic as hell, and each line needs to be repeated three times for a minimal understanding of only the general idea of the books. I believed that the Jacobins butchered the Parisians because they could not understand what the heck Rosseau was saying in the Social Contract, and acted out their beliefs based on pure misunderstanding.

                      Reading these books does not fill the soul. The only thing they fill is the book shelf and my vocabulary of jargon terms.
             

               But then Paulo Freire wrote in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that a revolution is an act of love. He says that a revolution, smeared with blood and gunpowder is an act of love, because a revolutionary seeks to free his fellow citizens and comrades from the oppressor out of love and compassion. It is with love that he wishes to free them  from the shackles of dictators and despots. Our prophet who brought us Islam is the embodiment of love and compassion, rahmatan lil alamin- he’s the love for the whole universe.


                 Uzumaki Kushina , when she was about to receive the Kyuubi as a new jinchuriki, the old jinchuuriki, wife of Hashirama told her that the Kyuubi is the embodiment of hate, and she as the vessel must fill herself with love , and happiness.



                Of course books alone are not enough. It never was . Never will.  In order to fill my soul and be able to give something to you, all I need is love.  I need to share ideas on opinions saturated with love and compassion , and a deep interest in human beings. While before  I only wrote because I like to write, now I must write like it’s a love letter. If previously I proposed my ideas out of an excessive hunger for debates, now I must speak my words so that I can show you how I see the world, and how amazing I think it is!


                 But there’s a very big problem. I am not very interested with human beings. Judgemental creatures who think that they have the right to judge and control others. Calculating deviously, talking behind your backs, cunning bastards. Some of them feel that they have the right to decide who I can love , and how do I do so. There is a dedicated group of retarded youths that feels obligated to dictate how their friends love each other, thinking that they are doing God’s work. How can I be interested with such people?


                  I’m sorry for being  an empty person who gives empty words. But I have tried to fill myself, to no avail. Doing all this feels like talking a language that no one understand. It’s also a lonely thing to do , especially when your loved ones decide that it’s better to side with the retarded youths mentioned above.