Saturday, January 31, 2015

What does “protecting Islam” mean?

(This article was inspired by Kadir Jasin’s latest posting where he mentioned what is important is to “protect the future of UMNO. Malays and Islam..”  No fault of his.)

We often hear this phrase “protecting Islam”, “protecting the sanctity of Islam”, “memartabatkan kedudukan Islam”, “mempertahankan Islam” and so on. What do they exactly mean when they say that?

Firstly, I must confess that I as a Muslim do not know exactly which interpretation of “Islam” they are referring to though I know that there is no single interpretation. All the evidence is out there and in particular, globally, the Muslim world is theologically and politically divided in two major denominations - the “Sunni” and “Shia” Islam world.  The Shias and the Sunnis do not accept each other’s collection of hadiths (“saying of the Prophet”), notwithstanding the fact that each claims “authenticity” and academic verification of the same .

Even within the said denominations, there are diverse sects with their own interpretation of what constitutes “Islam”. In the Sunni world itself there are four main schools of thought namely, Maliki, Shafie, Hanbali and Hanafi equally diverse in views on many topics including those related to pure faith issues.

Fundamentally the divisions in the “Islamic” world arises due to the differences in the sources relied upon to build the structure of Islam.  While all of them claim to accept the Quran, much of the structure of Islam today is build not necessarily from the explicit injunctions of the Quran per se but mostly from the jurists or fuqahas efforts of exegesis. In simple words, derived from the reasoning and interpretation of the jurists.

In the Sunni world, it is “accepted” by their collective mainstream clergy that the sources of Islam in Islamic jurisprudence or usul al-fiqh is primarily the Quran, the Sunnah and hadith, Ijma’ (consensus of the scholars) and Qias (anology).  There are many other sources of islam that have been created to assist in addressing a particular issue such as istihsan, urf and so on.

Even the idea of maqasid al-syariah (objectives of the shariah) is a concept created by the jurists or religious scholars/clergy by way of deducing and inferring from the “accepted” sources aforementioned.

It is understandable that human beings will have to interpret, deduce, and infer from facts and evidence to arrive at a conclusion or to create a concept from which everything else is build. There is nothing unique about this process of thinking and is common to all aspects of our life. This is how values and systems of beliefs and behaviour evolve in societies.

The problem only arises when we deny our interpretative role and equate our ideas, concepts and conclusions to that of the Divine or God. Hence, criticisms and alternative interpretations become impossible and would immediately be cast as blasphemous or unthinkable.

This is what I call the confusion between the views of the Interpreter (“the clergy or anyone) and the actual intent of  the Giver of the Text (“Divine/God”).  Would not equating the views of the interpreter (clergy) absolutely with the intent of the Giver of the Text (“God”) equate the position of the clergy with the position of God?

So back to the question of “protecting Islam”, those who say this cannot and should not assume the serious reader or serious audience knows what they are talking about. They must specify which “Islam” they are talking about.  A generalisation in matters pertaining to Islam is completely unhelpful if they understand the realities of the situation and the diverse academic discussions on Islam and most importantly, the contents of the Quran itself.

Say for example, they were to say “protect the Shia Islam”, then it will be easy to make a choice whereby those who prefer the Sunni version can reject that call. And similarly if one was to say “protect the Sunni version”, then those in favour can support that call.  Even this however may pose a problem in a seemingly Sunni society because of the differences in the opinions of the four schools of thought.  

So, maybe it becomes clearer if the caller was to say “protect the Shafie views of Islam” and so on.
However, do we see this manner of calls as promoting unity among the Muslims? What then will those adhere to the Maliki or Hanafi view do? If you say accept all, then what do you do when there is a conflict of views?

Would it not be easier and more efficient for Muslims to make the call from one book which all of them do not dispute – the Quran?  And mean it too when the call is made and Muslims heed the call by adhering to the Quran. Otherwise, you will be guilty of causing further disunity among the Muslims.

Hence, be careful when you say you want to “protect Islam” for you may be doing the exact reverse by your futile call due to your ignorance of the complexities and the Quran.

Peace !


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ok, If I am Ok !!!

By: ASP Nik Ezanee

 1. When the topic of corruption comes up, people are quick to point
fingers and the usual suspects are the politicians and the police.

2. There are probably many good reasons why most fingers are pointed
to that few direction. Some may agree, some not. However, we can agree
that many people want this to change.

3. Have we checked in with ourselves lately? What I have notice is
that people are quick to point the mistakes of others, while condone
the very same mistake if it benefits them personally. Hence, "It is ok
if I am ok with it."

4. It is NOT ok for Officials to accept gifts. But it is OK for me to
buy the Officials the latest Iphone 5 each to maintain good rapport
with them. Dinner, overseas trips, golf? karaoke sessions?

5. It is NOT ok for Police to accept bribe. But it is OK for me to
offer it to them to save my neck. (and later brag about it to friends
and family, "they even settled for $50", "oh I paid $100, rather than
getting $300 ticket")

6. It is NOT ok for ME to take bribes, but it is OK to ask my staff to
find sponsors for golf games, company events, overseas trips, birthday
gifts for bosses. "Sponsors" ??

7. It is NOT ok to take $100 from contractors like the previous guy!!
That is Corrupt and Arrogant! But it is OK to take $60.

8. It is NOT ok to ask for $100, but it is OK to receive $100 since it
was offered and not demanded.

9. It is NOT ok to accept bribe but it is OK to add extra milage on
that claim. How about that extra hours or 'business lunch with
friends' claim? How about using company's property for personal use?
Car, helicopter, jets? Stationaries maybe?

10. It is NOT ok that politicians live lavishly but it is definitely
OK to hide some amount of my income from the IRB.

11. It is NOT ok for everyone else to do it.. But it is definitely OK
FOR ME to do it.

12. Change doesn't mean you have go out there condemning everything
about our country.

13. Change starts from you and me.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

ApabIla bencana Berlaku

Apabila suatu bencana berlaku dia tidak memilih samada orang dan keluarga yang alaminya adalah berbangsa Melayu, CIna, India, Jepun, Indonesia, Pakistan, British atau apa-apa bangsa.

Begitu juga bencana tidak memilih agama seseorang.

Apabila bencana berlaku, mangsa-mangsa bencana mengharapkan sesiapa sahaja untuk membantunya tanpa mengira bangsa, agama mahupun keturunan.

Mangsa-mangsa bencana yang dibantu oleh manusia-manusia yang berperikemanusiaan dan yang ada kemampuan untuk membantu.

Banjir, kehilangan pesawat MH370, penembakkan MH17 dan kemalangan yang menimpa Airasia 8501 tahun lalu adalah melibatkan manusia-manusia dan bukanlah disengajakan terhadap satu bangsa atau agama yang khusus.

Semua manusia yang kehilangan adik beradik yang tersayang akan sama-sama pilu dan kehilangan kerana kita sama-sama manusia.

Kita adalah insan yang sama darah merah, sama ketakutan, sama harapan.

Saya berdoa pada tahun 2015 ini kita kembali ingatkan diri bahawa kita sama-sama insan dan tidak takkabur atau sombong dengan agama, keturunan, kedudukan atau bangsa kita.

Jangan lah kita diuji dengan lebih dahsyat lagi bagi diingati bahawa kita sama-sama insan.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Are Muslims Really the Best of People ???

1.      Every Muslim is taught that they are the best of peoples that has evolved for mankind. That they have the Truth with them and that they are on the “right path of God”.

2.      Every Muslim believes that “Islam” is the answer to all of human ills and sufferings and the Muslim through “God’s teachings” will be able to guide human beings to a better life here and in the herefater. Hence, many Muslim today wants to implement the “syariah law” which has been touted as “divine laws” by the Muslim clerics especially the “hudud laws” which is considered sacrosanct and deemed beyond any discussion.

Indeed the Quran does in surah 3 verse 110 state the following:

“You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in God. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors”.

3.      Yes, the Quran says that the Muslims are the best of peoples. But who are these Muslims and where are they? Let Muslims not forget that Allah also speaks well of the people of the Book in surah 3 verse 113 to 114:

“Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (For the right): They rehearse the Signs of God all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration”. (Q3:113)
“They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous”. (Q3:114)

4.      Q3:113-114 clearly says that among the people of the book (the Jews and the Christians) there are those who enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong and do good works like some Muslims do. The Quran is equally clear that in the Muslim community itself there are hypocrites (Q4;142, 63:1) who cause mischief within the community and spread false teachings in the name of Allah with their tongue and for wealth (Q2:41, 77; Q3:77-78, Q9:009)

From the discussion above, is it not a reasonable conclusion to make that a righteous Christian and Jew who forbids wrong and enjoins what is right is better than a hypocrite who pretends to be a Muslim? Q5:69 even states “any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness,- on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve”.

5.      As a matter of clarity, it is important to note that all beautiful names belong to God and “Allah” is just one name ordinarily used by Muslims to refer to God the One and Only. 

“Say: "Call upon God, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name you call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Neither speak your Prayer aloud, nor speak it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between." (Q17:110)

6.      So, back to the question – are Muslims indeed the best of peoples evolved for mankind? I sincerely believe that those Muslims who adhere to the Quran and study it as it should be studied (Q2:121) and take the best meaning/interpretation from it are indeed useful for the world (Q39:18). These are people of peace (aslama), who are able to co-exist with compassion and understanding with people who have completely different belief systems or even an atheist, are diligent, productive, self-accountable and responsible, and able to engage in any discourse in an intelligent way as best as they can. In short, the best possible of a “civilized” person.

7.      Is that the image that Muslims portray today? I am sad to say that the general perception is completely the opposite.

8.      A general analysis of all the so-called “Muslim countries” shows backwardness in many ways – economically, politically and socially. They paint a gloomy and embarrassing picture of communities with poverty, abysmal record of human and women’s rights, constant civil wars, religious persecution often by the state itself, increasing lack of tolerance for other communities, overbearing sense of self righteousness, lack of respect for human privacy and freedom of thought, and most shockingly in this era of knowledge explosion, state sanctioned faith.

9.      Saudi Arabia for example, where the Quran was first revealed is a nation which has trapped its ordinary people in a time wrap completely excluded from the realities of the rest of the world. Many have noted that there is “so much religion and very little Islam” in that country. The reader can easily do further research to understand what I mean.

10.   Look at the “Muslim majority” countries in the African continent, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Libya, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Mali, Gambia, Kyrgyzstan and so on. Honestly, do these countries give meaning to the “best peoples evolved for mankind”?

11.  What have these “muslim majority” countries contributed to the betterment of the 7 billion over people living on earth in just the past 100 years that they deserve to be called the “best peoples evolved for mankind?”

12.  Muslims appear to be fond of blaming the whole world except themselves for whatever weaknesses, lackings, unhappiness or misery they suffer. When they cannot blame others, they break up into groups and sects and blame each other and often times ending up in bloodshed or persecution.

13.  How can we expect non-Muslims to have high regards for us when the perception globally is that we are intolerant, self-centered, unable to think for ourselves but completely dependent on the priests/clerics, over-sensitive to differing ideas and criticisms and hence lacking in self confidence, aggressive to the point of screaming Allah’s name in the streets and engaging in suicide bombings, that Islam is more politics and law rather than a spiritual guidance from the Creator and so on?

14.  It is also perceived that some of their ulamaks are of no help but only seek to put their followers further in a defensive position and angry position for what they lack in life. Not for a second are they encouraged or motivated to progress from whatever resources that have nor are they encouraged to use their creative minds to reap Allah’s mercy. You reap what you sow is a universal truth.

15.  All these extremely negative perceptions of Islam hurts me as a Muslim but I cannot simply get angry with them. This is a perception that my Muslim community has allowed to evolve. This is a perception that my Muslim community has failed to address because, I humbly believe, we have forsaken the teachings of the Quran (Q25:30) and gone on a frolic of our own following the teachings of men. We seem to have abandoned our God given common sense, thinking skills and compassion given by the Merciful and Compassionate Creator.

16.  Even in my own beloved country Malaysia, we witness some people abusing and subverting Islam to promote exclusivism, fascism and racism of the worst kind and in the process trying to create division, distrust, hatred and chaos among the peaceful people of Malaysia. Are these the “best of peoples evolved for mankind” as stated by Allah in the Quran? Surely not.

17.  I sincerely pray to Allah that in 2015, Muslims begin to sincerely indulge in their own soul searching and are courageous enough to be self critical (Q17:36, Q2:44), so that they can conclude for themselves whether they have indeed became the “best of peoples evolved for mankind” as stated by Allah in the Quran.

18.  Peace and Happy New Year.

NOTE: The above views are entirely my understanding and no one is required to agree with them. Kindly check with your own copy of the Quran and make up your own minds and thoughts. If I have erred in my facts, kindly highlight to me.