Thursday, August 1, 2013

Quran- The Quranic Perspective (with Monty Python on the side)

This is an interesting comedy sketch by Monty Python on religion. But looking at the world the way it is right now, and what Islam has become in many countries, I think there is some truth here. We forget, or we conveniently forget. We ignore the Quran at our own peril. We somehow prefer to listen to some unsubstantiated sources as guidance and follow opinions of others uncritically. Despite the fact that Allah has already reminded us clearly in Surah Az-Zumar that the Quran is the best of all hadis (..ahsan alhadeeth..). In fact I find it non coincidental that Allah has chosen to use the word hadeeth to refer to the Quran in this particular instance. There is no mention of the second best or even the third best. Just the best of all, i.e. the Quran.
Allah has sent down the best statement (ahsanal hadeeth): a consistent Book wherein is reiteration. The skins shiver therefrom of those who fear their Lord; then their skins and their hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah . That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whom He wills. And one whom Allah leaves astray - for him there is no guide.
39:23 (Sahih International)

So it does beg the question of why do we still refer to other sources over the Quran, and at times, we take this other source as a more authoritative guide. My simple mind seems to think that there could only be 3 possible reasons for this:
1)     The Quran is not complete and there are omissions, and therefore we need a supplement.
2)     The Quran is not easily readable and so we need commentary to help understand it
3)     Some aspects of the Quran are no longer applicable in this day and age and therefore are abrogated (dimansuhkan).

The above are reasons that I have heard throughout my life growing up. The first reason given, i.e. “The Quran is not complete and there are omissions therefore we need a supplement” is actually a very common misconception. This is a myth. Allah has said in Surah An-Nahl that the Quran explains clearly everything and then in Surah Al-Anaam that nothing has been left out.

And on the day when We will raise up in every people a witness against them from among themselves, and bring you as a witness against these-- and We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything, and a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit.
16:89 (Shakir)

And there is no animal that walks upon the earth nor a bird that flies with its two wings but (they are) genera like yourselves; We have not neglected anything in the Book, then to their Lord shall they be gathered
6:38 (Shakir)

Clearly these verses point to the fact that the Quran has not omitted anything and it is complete, and therefore the argument that we need a supplement because the Quran is incomplete is irrelevant and baseless.

Another common reasoning that I have heard is that the Quran is not that straightforward. It is not easy to understand it and you need to be an expert (Arabic speaker, religious scholar etc) to read this book. But if one were to think about it logically, this argument doesn't make sense. Why have a manual on living life as a Muslim if you cannot read it on your own in the first place? On the point that the Quran is not readable to the ordinary Joe (or Ali if you prefer! ), this is what the Quran has to say:

And certainly We have made the Quran easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind?
54:17 (Shakir)

And mind you, Allah has repeated this verse for three more times (54:22, 54:32, 54:40), so there is really no excuse that the Quran is not easy to read. It easy to remember, it is easy to understand. You don't need special skills or ability to be able to read the Quran.

And the final and possibly the most ridiculous argument I have heard is that part of the Quran is abrogated. This is just preposterous. If some verses of the Quran is no longer applicable and you need additional references to change what has been said in the Quran, then you are effectively calling the Quran obsolete…do we believe that ? I don't. But who cares about what I think, after all I don't speak Arabic and I am not a religious scholar. Let’s see what the Quran has to say:

And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can change His Words. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.
6:115 (Muhsin Khan)
Allah has said..”none can change His words”…no one can change or amend the Quran. The Quran has been fulfilled…it is complete…He knows best. How can anyone possibly claim that it is incomplete or obsolete ? What proof does anyone have to make such claims ? Haatu burhanukum inkuntum saadiqeen…show me your proof if you are truthful!

And finally:

These are the verses of Allah which We recite to you in truth. Then in what statement after Allah and His verses will they believe?
45:6 (Sahih International)

And so I ask you, which other sources/references would you hold on to, if not the ‘ahsanal hadeeth’ (i.e. the Quran) ? Think about it……….

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why Fear the Appointment of DS Shafee ?

Many seem to think that the appointment of DS Shafee by the AG to lead the prosecution team for the appeal is an indication that the AG and the entire judiciary system are corrupt. I beg to differ. On the contrary, I think the appointment of DS Shafee clearly signifies that the AG and the judiciary are clean. If the judiciary system in Malaysia is tempered with, then why would the AG outsource the job of leading the prosecution team ? Surely a corrupt judiciary system would produce the desired outcome regardless of who leads the prosecution team ?!! Wouldn't it be easier to get the job done without attracting so much controversy in the first place? Ok fine, let’s assume that DS Shafee is corrupt and has a personal vendetta against DS Anwar. So what ? What can or will he do differently ? He still has to play by the rules in the court of law, and this will be made sure by the panel judges. If you think that the panel judges are corrupt, then shouldn't you also be protesting against the judges ? Funny, there is no protest against the panel judges, and so it can only mean that the defense team is happy with the panel, and so why fear DS Shafee ? At most he would go all out to win the case. But isn’t that the goal of the AG anyhow, to win the prosecution against DS Anwar ? Even if some other person is appointed for the role, surely that person would also go all out to win the argument through the rule of law. Because if he doesn't, isn’t that a corrupt prosecutor ? Surely you don't expect the AG to appoint someone to lose the case, because that would be a sign of a corrupt AG. So why the fear ?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

National Reconciliation: A New Malaysian Reality

Some have referred to the outcomes of the GE13 as a Chinese-Tsunami, whereas others prefer to call it a Malaysian-Tsunami. It is a tsunami nonetheless, but not a completely unexpected one. The tsunami warning bells have long sounded, but some parties have chosen to be oblivious and ignorant about these warning signs presumably out of sheer arrogance. At the wake of this, the Prime Minister called for a national reconciliation as part of a process to heal the racial and divisive politics that have taken place in the recent past especially building up to the recent 13th General Election.

Throughout history we have seen several national reconciliation initiatives in other countries. The parliament of Ghana for example, in the year 2001 passed an Act to establish a National Reconciliation Commission. The Act, which came into force in 2002, had highlighted that the objective of the commission is “to seek and promote national reconciliation among the people of this country by recommending appropriate redress for persons who have suffered any injury, hurt, damage, grievance or who have in any other manner been adversely affected by violations and abuses of their human rights arising from activities or inactivities of public institutions and persons holding public office. The need for a National Reconciliation Commission for Ghana arose in the wake of its historical election in December 2000, which witnessed, for the very first time post independence, the change of constitutionally-elected government via popular votes and not through violence. Ghana has had four military coups and several attempted coups. The unconstitutional governments resulting from these coups had resulted in massive abuses and violations of human rights. Therefore the call for National Reconciliation is perfectly justified given the anguish the Ghanians have gone through for decades and the concerted effort required for healing and mending the broken nation. Ghana achieved independence in 1957, and considering that we too got our independence in the same year, Malaysians can look back with pride knowing that what we went through may not be ideal, but it is still an enormous feat.

Another country that has had a formal National Reconciliation agenda is Liberia. In 2010, the government of Liberia made a request to the United Nations to place Liberia on the agenda of the UN’s Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) in order to help Liberia consolidate its peace. The outcome of this is the development of a Strategic Roadmap for National Healing, Peacebuilding and Reconciliation. Accordingly the roadmap defines reconciliation in Liberia as “a multidimensional process of overcoming social, political, and religious cleavages; mending and transforming relationships; healing the physical and psychological wounds from the civil war, as well as confronting and addressing historical wrongs including the structural root causes of conflicts in Liberia”. The need for reconciliation on a national scale in Liberia is a step in the right direction to foster sustainable peace in the country that has been marred by civil wars and unrest throughout its history.

Many other countries have had some sort of National Reconciliation agenda, such as Afghanistan and Lebanon, but like Liberia and Ghana, these countries are severely divided and are continuously in a flux of political instability that have, in the past, had civil unrest on a massive scale. However, the only other country, as far as I am aware, that has a National Reconciliation agenda but without the bleak political and civil state, is Australia. Australia has introduced a National Reconciliation week that is celebrated between 27 of May and 3rd of June every year. However, the purpose of the National Reconciliation week in Australia is very different from the ones we have seen in other countries. Australians have chosen to celebrate the National Reconciliation week to commemorate two very important events in the country, both of which relate to the aborigines. The reconciliation effort in Australia is very focused on creating the awareness and upholding the rights of the aborigines and necessarily to reconcile between the aborigines and the non-aborigines.

So what does national reconciliation mean for Malaysia ? What are we trying to reconcile ? Whom are we trying to reconcile with ? Shouldn't we be trying to reconcile with a new reality of Malaysia.

It seems to me that we need to reconcile with the fact that Malaysia is no longer the Malaysia we know of 10 years ago. We need to reconcile with the new political reality that democracy is alive and kicking in Malaysia. We need to reconcile with the new understanding that traditional media are no longer in control. We need to bring ourselves to reconcile with the power of the internet and the democratization of information. We need to bring ourselves to reconcile with the fact that Malaysians want more and deserve more. We have to reconcile with the reality of today that Malaysians no longer accept at face value what they are being told. We must learn to reconcile with the notion that a 2/3 parliamentary majority is a thing of the past. National reconciliation therefore has to begin from the top, by bringing themselves down to the masses. It is time that politicians reconcile themselves with the public. The reality on the ground is that, the more the politicians see themselves as masters, the more the public will be resentful of them. The more control and abuse the government of the day places on the media, the more skeptical the public will be of any information that comes from the government.

These are what we need to reconcile with. It is mainly a reconciliation agenda for the politicians and those in power, aspiring or existing. That's how I would define our National Reconciliation roadmap. And that's what I would like to see happen between now and GE14. I have been and will always be in the middle ground in an extremely partisan Malaysian landscape. Whatever happens between now and GE14 will dictate who gets my vote. So let the seduction game begin.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

GE13 - The Public Sucks (Why i dont vote ! )

“…politicians…everybody complains about politicians…everybody says they suck! Well, where do people think these politicians come from ? They don't fall out of the sky…they don't pass through a membrane from another reality…they come from Malaysian parents, Malaysian families, Malaysian homes, Malaysian schools, Malaysian mosques/churches/temples,  Malaysian businesses and Malaysian universities, and they are elected by the Malaysian citizens….this is the best we can do folks..this is what we have to offer…its what our system produces…garbage in, garbage out…if you have selfish ignorant citizens, you are gonna get selfish ignorant leaders… and term limiting aint gonna do any good, because you are just gonna wind up with a brand new bunch of selfish ignorant Malaysians…so maybe…so maybe…maybe…maybe its not the politicians who suck…maybe something else sucks around here, like…the public….yeah, the public sucks ! ….”  
(Excerpts from a George Carlin stand-up, Malaysianised to suit our local context)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Analysis Paralysis

Plan for your future. Plan for your family. Plan for your career. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, and every book and article you read, management courses for sure, will advise you on the importance of planning. We are now part of a society and culture who thinks too much about the future. We overplan and we overanalyse. We are too occupied about what will happen next. We are obsessed about the so-called important next steps. We fret about the future. We lose sleep over the belief of a bleak prospect. And as a result, we forget to live in the present. We ignore the beauty of the here and now. We neglect the things that truly matter to us. We forget about our life priorities. We plan, we wish, we dream, we desire and we hope and hope and hope for the very best. Hope, makes you hopeful. Hope makes you forget about the present. Hope makes you wish for the future. Hope makes you desire for the undesirable. Hope makes you dream for the unattainable. Hope makes you believe. Hope makes you convinced of the possibility. And hope, makes you leap for the impossible…..and leaving you hopeless when you drop, crushing every last bone in you, leaving you paralysed. Analysis paralysis. :)    

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Significant Nothing

I am sitting here in a cafe having my coffee and watching the morning crowd go by, everyone living their life, doing their own thing and as if oblivious to the bigger picture, not knowing that we must be a part of a small and insignificant entity that make up this bigger and significant cosmos . Everyone looks so different from each other. Some appear wealthier than the rest. Others appear to be struggling more than others. Did we choose to be the way we are now? We didn't choose to come to this world. We didn't get to choose our parents. We didn't get to pick our family members and we didn't choose to be born into this country. We certainly didn't get to choose our genes, let alone our social context. There are so many things about us that are just beyond our control and beyond our comprehension. The vastness of this cosmos is a mystery to the human mind and will forever be a mystery. And yet we say that we are in control of our lives. And yet we have the arrogance of claiming that we, as free human beings, are not subjected to anyone or anything. Have we failed to realize that we all have a past. A past that once began from a nothingness. And yet we know that nothing can emerge from nothing. It is an impossibility. But we did emerge from nothing. The cosmos emerged from nothing. But its funny how we still think that we are something. Something significant. Something that must be reckoned with. Something too significant to submit…..        

Friday, February 24, 2012

There is nothing wrong with our shools, just what happens afterwards!

Folks, you really have to check this out...i was completely surprised to see such absurdity coming from our so-called centre of excellence. Even a 12 year old would know better. Why a 12 year old you may ask? keep reading....

Now this first picture is proof that i have indeed referred to a UPSR-level examination paper.

Second image below is question number 17 in that particular UPSR-trial paper, which basically asked students to identify non-renewable energy sources from the list of four energy types provided (natural gas, petroleum, coal and biomass). Its quite clear that the answer is natural gas, petroleum and coal. Biomass is not the answer since it is obviously a renewable energy source. Most 12 years old would get this.

And now, lets see what our very own centre of renewable energy expertise has to say....this is something i got from the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) website (you may check this out:

You see folks, this is what happens when you decide to reject the official language for communicating scientific advancement. You get left far behind that even a 12 year old can see the obvious ignorance.

Conventional coal power plant is one of the dirtiest form of energy generation, but with newer technologies it can be made better. There are clean coal technologies that make coal power plants cleaner, especially with the use of carbon capture and storage. I can accept if we tout coal as a possible clean energy solution. And because we are now very dependent on gas and oil for electricity generation, i can also accept it if we say that coal is an alternative energy source. But to boldly and publicly imply that coal is a renewable energy source is just pure ignorance. We boast to the world about our SCORE initiative, trying to attract investors especially from abroad. And yet we say things like this....aiya, jatuh kemaluan!