Loyal Followers

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Insulting Islam


There are much hoo haas right now about non-Muslims insulting Muslims and Islam in Malaysia. A young non-Muslims couple is now under investigation. The Vatican envoy has been read the riot act by the Foreign Minister.

Latest, a guy had apparently been abducted, bundled into an Alphard, beaten up, stripped half naked, pictured with the word "Hina Islam" and the photo splashed on the internet before being dumped by the side of the road for insulting Islam.

I actually don't know who is/are more insulting to Islam. The guy who was abducted or the people who gave him that treatment.

Anyway, the Quran says:

"You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse. But if you are patient and fear Allah - indeed, that is of the matters [worthy] of determination."(3:186)

Then, a Sahih Muslim hadith says:

"Anas reported: A Bedouin urinated in the mosque. Some of the persons stood up (to reprimand him or to check him from doing so), but the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: Leave him alone; don't interrupt him. He (the narrator) said: And when he had finished, he called for a bucket of water and poured it over." (Muslim hadith 557, Book of purification).

Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa says:

"None of this is to condone violence of any sort. Indeed, the example of the Prophet and his Companions – the greatest sources of Muslim normativity – bear witness to their enduring the worst insults from the non-believers of his time. Not only was his message routinely rejected, but he was often chased out of town, cursed at, and physically assaulted on numerous occasions. But his example was always to endure all personal insults and attacks without retaliation of any sort. There is no doubt that, since the Prophet is our greatest example in this life, this should also be the reaction of all Muslims. As the Qur’an instrucus, “Be patient, as were the great prophets.”

(source is here )

So, make your own conclusion.

ps a friend of mine had told me of another verse from the Quran:

Ch 3 Vs 134 – “(Believers are those who) who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and WHO RESTRAIN ANGER AND PARDON THE PEOPLE - and Allah loves the doers of good.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Election Petition - a note to YB Rafizi

I refer to the report on Free Malaysia Today dated 5th June 2013 titled “Impossible To Win Election Petition”.

I have written before on the standard of proof in election petitions. Thus I will not comment on YB Rafizi’s statement on the same subject.

I wish to however address two issues.

Firstly, allow me to state the reason for the high standard of proof which is required to win an election petition. To understand the reason for the standard of proof, we need to know – and understand – the basic premise of an election petition.

The premise of an election petition is an electoral result which is being challenged.

To put it simply, there has been an election. And there is a result of that election. That result is born out of a democratic process which takes the form of an election. That result therefore represents the WILL OF THE MAJORITY as expressed through the election process. The candidate which is preferred by the majority is therefore declared the winner in the election.

Now, what is being challenged in an election petition is actually the will of the majority expressed in the election. Being so, in order to sustain that challenge, sufficient reasons must be shown to unseat the will of the majority. Those reasons proffered by the challenger must thus satisfy a high legal burden. Otherwise, the will of the majority could easily be defeated in the Election Court. That would make a mockery of democracy.

Take this scenario as an example.

Candidate A won an election by 3000 votes. Candidate B files an election petition showing that 300 voters had managed to wash off their so-called indelible ink immediately after voting. Videos of a bus full of people who looked like Bangladeshis parking itself at the voting centre were also produced.

Here, it is not sufficient for candidate B to just show those evidences. He must demonstrate how those things affect the result of the election. In respect of the 300 voters who washed off the ink, it must be shown that they had, in addition to washing off the ink, managed to vote twice. In relation to the bus, it must be shown that those people were indeed foreigners who were not entitle to vote and they did vote.

If the laws were to permit the result to be vitiated just by showing 300 people had washed off the ink and a bus full of Bangladeshis was parked at the voting centre with nothing more, what that would mean is that the will of the majority could be over-ridden and set aside by the minority. That would be undemocratic. I am sure in such event – of that happens to a Pakatan Rakyat’s candidate – the PR would be complaining of how undemocratic the laws are!

In the above scenario, any complain in respect of the procedural non-compliance must therefore be supported with evidence that at least 1500 votes were affected by the non-compliance. If that is done, then candidate A could not and should not have been the winner. Therefore, the result would be vitiated and another election must be called.

That is how it works.

The second issue which I would like to deal with is this.

The aforesaid report in Free Malaysia Today goes on to say:

On that note, the Pandan MP said that the electoral laws in Malaysia are skewed to allow and tolerate discrepancies, unless it hits a criticial level that can alter the election results.”

I do not know as a fact whether YB Rafizi did say that. On the assumption that he did say that, I would like to respond to that statement.

It is NOT CORRECT and NOT TRUE that electoral laws in Malaysia are “skewed” to allow and tolerate discrepancies.

Our election rules are mainly contained in an Act called the Election Offences Act 1954. This Act is mainly based on the Common Law principles and the provisions of the United Kingdom's Representation of the People Act 1948 (which later became the Representation of the People Act 1983). The provisions of our laws are not only similar to the UK provisions but also to the Indian provisions.

So, our electoral laws are not peculiar to us. In hearing election petitions, our Election Courts are normally referred to authorities and judicial precedents from the UK and Indian Courts. Sometimes we refer even to the Canadian and Australian cases. If our laws are said to be skewed to tolerate discrepancies, then the UK and Indian laws are also skewed as such!

In a report dated 11th December 2012 by a Law Commission in the UK, consisting of eminent jurists, namely, The Rt Hon Lord Justice Lloyd Jones (Chairman), Professor Elizabeth Cooke, Mr David Hertzell, Professor David Ormerod and Frances Patterson QC, the Commission among others, states:

In our consultation paper we summarised the jurisdiction of the parliamentary election court as:

i. reviewing the votes in a scrutiny, potentially declaring another candidate elected as the person having the most lawful votes; or

ii. examining the validity of the election, potentially resulting in an MP being unseated and a new election being called. Here, we distinguished between:

(a) invalidity for breaches of the rules by electoral administrators;

(b) a successful candidate's corrupt or illegal practice; and

(c) a successful candidate's disqualification from office.”

That is precisely what our Election Courts are empowered to do too. Section 32 of our Act says:

“32. The election of a candidate at any election shall be declared to be void on an election petition on any of the following grounds only which may be proved to the satisfaction of the Election Judge:

(a) that general bribery, general treating or general intimidation have so extensively prevailed that they may be reasonably supposed to have affected the result of the election;

(b) non-compliance with the provisions of any written law relating to the conduct of any election if it appears that the election was not conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in such written law and that such non-compliance affected the result of the election;

(c) that a corrupt practice or illegal practice was committed in connection with the election by the candidate or with his knowledge or consent, or by any agent of the candidate;

(d) that the candidate personally engaged a person as his election agent, or as a canvasser or agent, knowing that such person had within seven years previous to such engagement been convicted or found guilty of a corrupt practice by a Sessions Court, or by the report of an Election Judge; or

(e) that the candidate was at the time of his election a person disqualified for election.”

As we can see, the provisions are identical. (The power of “scrutiny”, ie, to recount votes is contained in section 50 of our Act.)

The Law Commission further states:

Administrative breaches

How a breach of a rule pertaining to administration of the poll should affect its validity involves a balancing act between giving teeth to the rules and achieving a certainty in electoral outcomes. The law has therefore placed some restraints on the consequences of breach. As our consultation paper explained, a challenge based on ground 2(a) above is essentially founded on the breach causally affecting the outcome of the election. In contrast, a candidate's corrupt or illegal practice or disqualification vitiates the validity of the election irrespective of the effect on the result.

The law's restraint is judicial in origin. Section 23(3) of the 1983 Act states that no UK Parliamentary election shall be declared invalid if it appears that: (a) the election was so conducted as to be substantially in accordance with the law as to elections; and (b) the act or omission did not affect the result.

Considering identical provision in the Representation of the People Act 1949, Lord Denning MR in Morgan v Simpson re-stated its wording in positive form; a breach of the rules must affect the outcome of the election in order to result in its nullity. An election will be held not to have been conducted substantially in accordance with the law as to elections if there was a "substantial departure" such as to make "the ordinary man condemn the election as a sham or a travesty of an election by ballot". The bar was thus set very high for an administrative breach to invalidate an election irrespective of its impact on the result.”

Again, that is PRECISELY the position in Malaysia. In respect of procedural non-compliance, we need to prove that such non-compliance must affect the result or outcome of the election. Please see section 32 (b) as reproduced above.

In so far as corrupt or illegal practices are concerned, these are divided into two categories:

a) where the corrupt and illegal practices were committed by the candidate himself or his agent, or with his knowledge or consent, the result is automatically vitiated regardless of whether such acts affect the result or not. (section 32 (c)).

b) where the corrupt and illegal practices have so extensively prevailed, the result would only be vitiated if they may be reasonably supposed to have affected the result of the election. Here, we do not have to show that the acts were done by the candidate, his agent or with his knowledge or consent.

What is being emphasized under sub-paragraph (b) above however is “reasonableness.” The question is, after looking at the totality of the evidence, is it reasonable for the Court to suppose that the result has been affected by the acts.

In respect of non-compliance of the rules or procedures, the question, as Lord Denning puts it in Morgan v Simpson:

Was there “substantial departure" such as to make "the ordinary man condemn the election as a sham or a travesty of an election by ballot". The bar was thus set very high for an administrative breach to invalidate an election irrespective of its impact on the result.”

That IS the position in England and that IS the position here.

Our election laws are not skewed to tolerate discrepancies. Our laws are based on the English laws as well as other respected jurisdiction within the Commonwealth.

In fact I dare say that our election laws are even better than the English laws. That is because here, we have an automatic right to appeal against any decision of the Election Court to the Federal Court (where at least 3 Judges will sit). In England, the decision of the Election Court is not appealable. A judicial review may however be asked for. But that is not automatic as judicial review may only be invoked if the High Court grants leave to do so.

When our laws place a high burden on us and do not always work in our favour or do not support our cases, it does not speak well for us to say that our laws are skewed.

Now, numerous election petitions are filed. Pakatan Rakyat is challenging many election results where the Barisan candidates had won. Conversely, Barisan Nasional is also challenging many results where the PR candidates had won.

I will bet my last dime that the Pakatan Rakyat lawyers will argue the same thing as the Barisan Nasional lawyers’ would in defending the results of the election which favour the PR candidate. In other words, all the above arguments which I have set out, will also be used by PR to defend the result of the election where the PR candidate had won.

Now, doesn’t that give new meaning to “fair is foul and foul is fair?”

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The A-Z of the 13th General Election

A – Anwar Ibrahim

Once deputy prime minister and de facto heir-apparent to the premiership and now the Opposition leader, this GE will be a defining moment for him and the opposition front he leads.

B – Barisan Nasional

The incumbent. Lost its coveted two-third majority for the first time in 2008. Although it has somewhat been affected by the weakening of two of the MCA and MIC, its ability to adapt and perform well should not be underestimated.

C – the Chinese

It is not a secret that support by the Chinese for MCA, and therefore the BN, is dwindling, especially in urban areas. As UMNO courts the Malay votes, GE13 will serve to define Malaysia’s and Malaysians’ ability to maintain social and racial harmony.

D – DAP

Helmed by veterans Lim Kit Siang and his son, Lim Guan Eng, this small, but influential party has made major inroads in urban areas. Its strategic partnership within the opposition front seems to benefit but remains testy as it will never come to term with PAS’ dreams of hudud laws and Islamic state.

E – the Economy

Both the BN and Pakatan Rakyat are conscious of the fact that most Malaysians are affected by the rise of cost of living. The state of the economy will be a major issue in GE13.

F – FELDA

FELDA was listed on the Bursa KL in one of the largest IPOs recently. It remains to be seen whether the listing will affect the settlers’ support for the BN.

G – Guan Eng (Lim)

The current Chief Minister of Penang and a DAP stalwart. The work is cut out for the BN to unseat him and his party from Penang.

H – HINDRAF

In 2008, the PR’s good performance was not least due to the support it received from HINDRAF. It may have lost some of its lustre but it still wields some influence over the Indian poor.

I – the Indians

It cannot be denied that the Indians are among the poorest in the country. Many among them do not even carry a Malaysian birth certificate. While some analysts project that Indian support has returned to the BN, the Indians are surely the decisive factor in some constituencies.

J – the Jews

While there was a Jalan Jahudi in Penang – now renamed Jalan Zainal Abidin – Malaysia can hardly be said to be Jewish friendly. It is an irony that a people of a country which is about 7500 km away could be an election issue in Malaysia, but election issues in Malaysia range from the inconspicuous to the ubiquitous.

K - Karpal Singh

Dubbed the “Lion of Jelutong”, Karpal will again be the main draw for DAP. Could be a short fuse within PR every time Islamic state and hudud laws aspirations of PAS come to fore.

L – Lahad Datu

I would have listed Lim Kit Siang but for the far reaching social and political consequences of the recent Lahad Datu incident. This incident cuts both ways, giving nationalistic support for the BN as well as showing the hitherto unforeseen adverse results of Project IC.

M – Mahathir (Dr)

The grand old man of Malaysian politics. PM for 22 years. Still going strong with political rhetoric despite his retirement. Openly said he would not support UMNO in 2008 although he did campaign for his son, Dato’ Mukhriz in Kedah. Will surely beat the campaign trail this GE.

N – Najib Razak

The incumbent Prime Minister in his first GE as the PM. Had sought to implement a transformation programe for Malaysia. Independent voter survey has shown his individual popularity as the PM. GE13 will show whether his popularity will translate to a vote for his party, the BN.

O – Oh My God!

Things which some Malaysian politicians say in recent time could only be met with this remark.

P – Perkasa/PAS

Dr Mahathir has openly thrown his support for Ibrahim Ali to be nominated by the BN. If nominated by the BN, whether that decision would negatively impact the fence sitters in the urban areas is one thing for the BN to consider. Another question is, why must the BN field an outsider when many of its leaders are available for nomination.

PAS - an integral component of the PR. Also loose cannon within the PR. At loggerheads with DAP as far as Islamic state and hudud laws are concerned. A party which is not shy from claiming that heaven is a certain destination for its supporters.

QQuantitative progress

For the first time the government has sought to measure its success and effectiveness quantitatively. The ETP reports are full of numbers, rates and percentages. The PR has responded with its own set of numbers.

R – Raja Nong Chik

Widely tipped as the BN candidate for Lembah Pantai. Can he win the urban seat for the BN?

S – Social networking

The internet has been successfully employed by the opposition in 2008. Since then, social networking sites have been awash with political posturing by both the BN and PR supporters and politicians. Its impact on the electorate is undeniable.

T – Transformation

The Prime Minister’s key programe from day one. The GE will judge the voters’ response to this initiative.

U – Urban voters

If the voting trend in 2008 is analysed, a political demographic line could be drawn along the urban areas where support for the opposition was clearly stronger. Urbanites have grown to maturely ask tough questions nowadays.

V – the Victors and Vanquished

Whatever the result will be, it is imperative that the victors celebrate with humility and responsibility while the vanquished accepts the result peacefully.

W – Winnable candidates

Many candidates who won the last GE had since jumped seat. Candidates must not only be winnable but must also be trustworthy and honest.

X – X-rated videos

No, they don’t work anymore. Malaysians reject smut-politics and crave for smart-politics instead.

Ythe Y-generation

Young voters who will vote for the first time in this GE are educated, news-savvy and have a different world-view than the old politicians. Harder to please and easy to isolate, they form quite a force in this GE.

Z – Zealots

In a country as multi-racial and culturally diverse as Malaysia, racial and religious zealots are easy to breed and hard to control. The birth and growth of extreme right wingers is a cause for concern. Let’s hope the GE would not be marred by this factor.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Indefeasibility of Malaysia’s Territorial Sovereignty Over Sabah

The incursion into Sabah by a ragtag “army” of a now defunct “Sultanate” with the intention of having a picnic in their “homeland” (to borrow the description by a self-styled Princess of the said “Sultanate”) would be comical, if not for the utterly tragic consequences that follows.

In weeks after the incursions, eight Malaysian policemen were killed, some of whom were allegedly tortured, killed and their body mutilated by the “army” of the now defunct Sultanate. As of the date of writing, a total of 62 people have been killed. That the so-called Sultan declared a Jihad and the self-styled Princess calling the Malaysian army un-Islamic lend a surrealistic aura to the whole episode which would make Salvador Dali green in envy.

The fact remains that their acts were an act of terrorism perpetrated by armed bandits on an unsuspecting State and her people. There was nothing Islamic about those acts. To use Islam and Jihad in this totally illegal and inhumane act of aggression against a peaceful State which has been treating some of them with unlimited generosity is a misuse and abuse of the religion and God of the worst kind.

So, what does Jamalul Kiram want? He has been shifty about this. On one count he said he doesn’t want to claim Sabah. On another, he said he wants recognition. Okay. So we call him a Sultan. Is that recognition enough? Of course not. At the end of it, he said he is the poorest Sultan in the world. That is more than sufficient answer to the question. He wants money. Forget altruism. Forget the advancement of his so-called people. Forget honour. Forget dignity. It is just about money.

However, why must Malaysia, as a State, give money to some delusional people who live in the 17th century? What would prevent this very same people from coming back to ask for more when the money runs out? What basis do a people have to hold a State to ransom every now and then just because this people do not have a source of income other than from partaking in piracy, kidnapping and now, terrorism as well as prostituting Islam?

One can read and try to grasp the historical dynamics of this so-called Sulu Sultanate’s claim over North Borneo, a State which later became part of Malaysia and known as Sabah. Even the origin of this claim, that the Sultan of Brunei had given this area to the Sulu Sultanate for the latter’s help in a battle is historically denied by the Brunei Sultanate. Without further delving into these murky historical accounts, there is only one political reality and that is Sabah is part of Malaysia and Malaysia has territorial sovereignty over Sabah. Period.

During the post-world war de-colonisation period, between February to April 1962, a commission of inquiry, known as the Cobbold Commission, conducted meetings in Sarawak and Sabah (then, North Borneo). The Commission concluded that more than two third of the people of these two areas wished that the two areas joined and be part of Malaya.

During this de-colonisation period, international laws have evolved so as to recognise without limitation the right of the people of a territory to determine their own ruling. This right is known as the right to self-determination. This right is enshrined in the United Nation’s General Assembly resolution 1541(XV). Principle IX of the same provides:

“Integration should have come about in the following circumstances:

(a) The integrating territory should have attained an advanced stage of self-government with free political institutions, so that its peoples would have the capacity to make a responsible choice through informed and democratic processes;

(6) The integration should be the result of the freely ex­pressed wishes of the territory's peoples acting with full knowl­edge of the change in their status, their wishes having been expressed through informed and democratic processes, impartially conducted and based on universal adult suffrage. The United Nations could, when it deems it necessary, supervise these processes.”

Following the finding of the Cobbold Commission, the Governments of the United Kingdom and Malaya issued a joint statement on 1st August 1962 to the effect that a Federation of Malaysia should be established by 31st August 1963. A formal agreement was prepared and signed in London on 9th July 1963 on behalf of the Governments concerned (the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore).

On 5th August 1963, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaya, following a 6 day meeting in Manila, requested the Secretary General of the United Nation “to send working teams to Sabah (North Borneo) and Sarawak in order to ascertain the wishes of these peoples with respect to the proposed Federation.” It was agreed that these States would also send observers during the exercise.

The term of reference of the exercise was, among others, as follows:

The Secretary-General or his representative should ascertain, prior to the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia, the wishes of the people of Sabah (North Borneo) and Sarawak within the context of General Assembly resolution 1541(XV), Principle IX of the Annex, by a fresh approach, which in the opinion of the Secretary-General is necessary to en- sure complete compliance with the principle of self- determination within the requirements embodied in Principle IX.”

Further, the Mission was to take into consideration:

1) The recent elections in Sabah (North Borneo) and Sarawak but nevertheless further examining, verifying and satisfying himself as to whether: (a) Malaysia was a major issue if not the major issue; (b) electoral registers were properly compiled; (c) elections were free and there was no coercion; and (d) votes were properly polled and properly counted; and (2) the wishes of those who, being qualified to vote, would have exercised their right of self-determination in the recent elections had it not been for their detention for political activities, imprisonment for political offences or absence from Sabah (North Borneo) or Sarawak.”

(Source: United Nation General Assembly 18th Session, the Question of Malaysia, pages 41-44)

It is interesting to note that the terms of reference requested the United Nation to ascertain the wishes of the people “by a fresh approach.” Many, including our own citizen, Jeffrey Kitingan, have complained that there was no referendum made. This complaint fails to take into consideration the “fresh approach” which was requested by the three governments. This complaint also overlooked the fact that that there was and is no requirement under international laws that a referendum is made before the people in a territory could be said to have voted for self-determination or to join any State.

After all, Principle IX of the aforesaid Resolution 1541(XV) provides:

The integration should be the result of the freely expressed wishes of the territory's peoples acting with full knowl­edge of the change in their status, their wishes having been expressed through informed and democratic processes, impartially conducted and based on universal adult suffrage. The United Nations could, when it deems it necessary, supervise these processes”

A referendum is just another method to determine the wishes of the people and it is not a mandatory method.

During the United Nation’s General Assembly (18th session) the followings were reported:

The Mission had considered that it would be meaningful to make a "fresh approach" by arranging consultations with the population through elected representatives, leaders and the representatives of political parties as well as non-political groups, and with any other persons showing interest in setting forth their views. During the Mission's visits to various parts of the two territories, it had been possible to consult with almost all of the "grass roots" elected representatives. Consultations were also held with national and local representatives of each of the major political groups and with national and local representatives of ethnic, religious, social and other groups, as well as organizations of businessmen, employers and workers in various communities and social groups.”

On the wishes of the people of Sarawak and Sabah, the Mission was left without any doubt that they had made an informed decision to join the Federation of Malaysia. In the Mission’s own words:

“As far as the specific questions which the Secretary-General was asked to take into consideration were concerned, the members of the Mission concluded, after evaluating the evidence available to them, that: (a) in the recent elections Malaysia was a major issue throughout both territories and the vast majority of the electorate understood the significance of this; (b) electoral registers were properly compiled; (c) the elections were freely and impartially conducted with active and vigorous campaigning by groups advocating divergent courses of action; and (d) the votes were properly polled and counted; the number of instances where irregularities were alleged seemed within the normal expectancy of well-ordered elections. The Mission came to the conclusion that the number of persons of voting age detained for political offences or absent from the territories when voting took place was not sufficient to have affected the result. The Mission also gave careful thought to the reference in the request to the Secretary-General that "he ascertain prior to the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia the wishes of the people of Sabah (North Borneo) and Sarawak within the context of General Assembly resolution 1541 (XV), Principle IX of the Annex."

The Mission then concluded that the both Sarawak and North Borneo (later, Sabah) had:

"attained an advanced stage of self-government with free political institutions so that its people would have the capacity to make a responsible choice through informed democratic processes." Self-government had been further advanced in both territories by the declaration of the respective Governors that, as from 31 August 1963, they would accept unreservedly and automatically the advice of the respective Chief Ministers on all matters within the competence of the State and for which portfolios had been allocated to Ministers. The Mission was further of the opinion that the participation of the two territories in the proposed Federation, having been approved by their legislative bodies, as well as by a large majority of the people through free and impartially conducted elections in which the question of Malaysia was a major issue and fully appreciated as such by the electorate, could be regarded as the "result of the freely expressed wishes of the territory's people acting with the full knowledge with the change of their status, their wishes having been expressed through informed and democratic processes, impartially conducted and based on universal adult suffrage.” (emphasis is mine).

It is thus clear as daylight that the choice to join Malaysia was made by the people of Sabah. Due recognition was later given to the Federation of Malaysia by the United Nation.

On 16th September 1963, Malaysia was then officially formed. Indonesia and the Philippines, despite their joint request to the United Nation with Malaya and despite sending their own observers while the Mission was undertaking its work refused to recognise Malaysia’s sovereign over Sabah.

The Philippines reserved her claim over Sabah in the Manila Accord 1963. Despite such reservation, no official claim has ever been made. Under the law, the Philippines can be said to have abandoned her claim as such. The Philippines know that any claim which it may wish to make over Sabah is doomed to failure. The aforesaid Mission was established pursuant to the Philippine’s’ joint request. It does therefore not make sense that the Mission’s findings could be challenged by the Philippines.

The so-called Sultanate of Sulu must be aware that territoriality of a sovereign nation must be determined at a finite era or period in accordance with the acceptable norm of international laws at the relevant time. Historical time travelling in respect of a territorial sovereignty must be limited to the time when a sovereign is established over a region. Failure to do so would result in copious, comical, baseless and even tragic claims over a region resulting in instability and loss of lives.

Otherwise, what would prevent some lunatics who claim he or she is the descendant of Caliph Al-Makmun from the Abbasid dynasty from claiming a third of the world as his or hers? Or Spain from being claimed by a self-professed descendant of the Umayyad? Or Singapore being claimed by a descendant of the Thai representative who was killed by Parameswara? Or a descendant of the Emir of Hejaz from claiming Mekah and Madinah from the Saudis?

Malaysia has every right to defend its sovereignty over any part of its territory in any manner she deems fit. Anything less would make a mockery of international laws and accepted norms and conventions of international relation.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Sabah Incursion–just my thoughts

The incursion by the Sulu terrorists into Sabah is a culmination of socio-political complexities which were ignored due to post World War 2 socio-political order and convenience.

Firstly, we have an ancient Sultanate living in the 18th century, forgetting the fact that their forefathers have sold their sovereignty for self interest without nary a thought for the people which they claim to rule in exchange for what appeared to be big money then, but reduced to pittance in the 21st century. WE have a so-called Sultan who apparently rules his subjects from Manila, who speaks as if he's the most benevolent of rulers and who sent his subjects to a hopeless war from within the comfort of Metro Manila.


Secondly, we have a government of a State which is not really a State, who fails to control and impose laws and order on wide areas of the so-called State giving rise to vast areas whose people do not really recognise the State and her government.


Thirdly, we have this same State which is facing an election and the same Sultan running in the election in an opposition pact after having lost the last election with 800 votes. The leader of the opposition pact is now in a house arrest after being convicted for electoral fraud. The State's ancient and baseless claim for Sabah is an election issue which that opposition pact wishes to pursue and doubtlessly exploited in the name of nationalism and patriotism, however misguided and misplaced they may be.


Fourthly, at the home front, we have had leaders from both side of the fence who had courted this so-called Sultan and claimant to the Sultanate (at least there are five of them) before, all in the name of Malay-ness and Islam. Some of our citizens are even conferred Datukship by these feudal Sultan without a kingdom. This lends a semblance of recognition by our very own leaders of the Sultan and the Sultanate.


Fifthly, Malaysia cannot deny, no matter how loud Dr Mahathir shouts, that she has been a sympathiser of the Bangsa Moro's so-called fight for liberation. Now that very Bangsa Moro is coming back to haunt Malaysia for all her generosity in the past. In fact we were so pally pally with the Moros that in the 80s (or was it early 90s), when Nur Misuari's rebellion was crushed in the Philippines, our friend casually and nonchalantly landed in Sabah airport thinking we would welcome him as a guest. We however handcuffed him and sent him back to the Philippines to face his prosecutors.


Number six: Malaysia has always allowed the porous borders of the Sulu, Tawi-tawi and the surrounding islands with Sabah to be breached without a semblance of enforcement of our immigration laws. People go in and out of that area with absolute impunity from immigration laws on, not a daily basis, but hourly basis. That area is like a free trade zone where people would conduct their daily business even in rupiah and pesos. This episode shows that maintenance of laws and order is absolutely critical for internal security, no matter how difficult or petty it is.


#7: Project IC during DrM's time. Do I need to say more about this?


Perhaps it is time for all of us, the people of Malaysia, the government and the opposition alike, take laws and order seriously. Be like Singapore when it comes to enforcement of the laws. They even enforce the chewing gum law with the passion of an Israeli soldier in Gaza.


It is also time that our intelligence unit to be beefed up and to be aware of any strife or crisis in and surrounding us, no matter how minute it can be. The next time bomb, which we have to monitor is the Pattani issue, the Spratly islands which are claimed by Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines and China etc etc.


International relationship, internal security and matters pertaining to the nation's security is like the stock market. A bomb explodes in Timbuktu and Apple's shares might come tumbling down. It is the same with our security. The Philippines are having an election and Sabah is invaded by armed terrorists. We just have to be aware of things, analyse each and every situation and events and see how they could affect us. People who do not analyse events often lose out in the stock market. We have to engage in battles on our own land because we were not sensitive enough to events surrounding us.

It is not too late for us to improve. A nation's achievement is not only measured from her success but also  from how she rises from a set-back and learn from it to take her to greater height.

My thoughts and prayer for all our brave men and women on the battle front. May God bless them, protect them and grant them strength and determination. Victory is always with the righteous. Malaysia berjaya!

Monday, March 04, 2013

A Nation At War With Itself

 

“Non vi si pensa quanto sangue costa.”
Paradiso xxix, 91.

The soldier fought his battle silently.
   Not his the strife that stays for set of sun;
   It seemed this warfare never might be done;
   Through glaring day and blinding night fought he.
There came no hand to help, no eye to see;
   No herald's voice proclaimed the fight begun;
   No trumpet, when the bitter field was won,
   Sounded abroad the soldier's victory.
As if the struggle had been light, he went,
   Gladly, life's common road a little space;
   Nor any knew how his heart's blood was spent;
Yet there were some who after testified
   They saw a glory grow upon his face;
   And all men praised the soldier when he died.

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The Soldier by Sophie Jewett (from The Pilgrim and Other Poems, published under the name Ellen Burroughs, 1896)

Let’s face it.

We are a nation which is at war with itself. We do not even have the ability to unite under whatever circumstances anymore. Not even when our sovereignty is being challenged; foreigners invading us; displacing our people from their homes; making claims that our land belong to them; killing not one, two or three, but eight of our brave men.

All we do and seem to care about is politics, politics and more politics.

At a time when all of us, Malaysians, should don our patriotism on our forehead, what do we do? We quarrel. We blame each other. We call names at our police.

We spew stupid and baseless conspiracy theories about how our government is stage-managing this incident in order to declare emergency so that a general election does not have to be called.

Over on the government side, we have talks of the Sulu bandits being invited to Sabah by the opposition. An investigation is now, apparently being launched to find out about the truth and who was behind it.

People, what has become of us? Have we become so blind; so partisan that there is no avenue at all where we all could just forget about politics for just a little while and UNITE for the sake of this country of ours?

Have we become so sick of each other that nothing could take us away from this culture of hatred?

At the very least, can’t we shut up as a mark of respect for those heroes who have fallen? For their families? For the fathers who have lost their sons? For the mothers who have sacrificed their sons? For the wives who are now widowed? For the kids who are now fatherless?

Where is our compassion? Are we not human anymore? Is partisan politics all that matter to us nowadays? Have we abandoned all civility and good conscience for the sake of politics?

All of us should be united in the face of ONE common enemy now. Instead, what are we doing?

As of right now, I am ashamed to be Malaysian.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reclaiming Reason (part 2)

I have stated in part 1 of this article that the theological differences in Islam only served to enrich the vibrancy of Islam as a faith and a way of life. Indeed, at the peak of Islamic intellectualism, Islam was at the forefront of everything, from medicine to science, astronomy to algebra, philosophy to music and architecture to engineering.

While Auguste Comte was labelled the “father of sociology” by the West, having first coined the term “sociology” in 1838, Ibn Khaldun was already delving into the rise, development, organisation and fall of societies as well as characteristics and institutions of the State 400 hundred years earlier. Muslims’ thinkers and their works were well respected and their thoughts largely contributed to modern Western thoughts so much so that some of them were ascribed Latinised names. Thus al-Faribi, al-Kindi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rashid, for instance, were also known as Alpharibus, Alkindus, Avicenna and Averroes respectively.

There is no denying that freedom of thoughts and expressions as well as rationalism were at the forefront of Islamic intellectualism and achievements.

Islamic intellectualism and its attendant polemics did not divide the Muslims. They did not create schisms and drive deep wedges into Islam as we now see. Quite to the contrary, they served to enhance Islam with a vibrancy of thoughts that we, in 2013, could only dream of seeing.

Politics however tended to be harmful to religion, especially when the seat of power sought to utilise religion and its jurisprudence to legitimise its existence and continuity.

As soon as the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed away, the seeds of discontent were sowed over the choice of the person who was to be the 1st Caliph. The Prophet, in his last sermon before he died, said:

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black has any superiority over white except by piety (taqwa) and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.”

This however did not stop the Muslims from invoking tribal precedence in matters relating to the election of the first Caliph. The Ansars said the first Caliph should be from their tribe because they were the ones who welcome the Prophet and the Meccans to Madinah. The Quraish said the first Caliph should be from their tribe because the Prophet was a Quraish. Soon the Shiites would say the Caliph should only be from the Prophet’s family members only. These disputes were by no means theological in nature as much as they were political.

Twenty-four years after the Prophet’s passing, the 3rd caliph, Uthman was murdered. Ali, his successor was blamed by Muawiyah for failing to punish Uthman’s killers. Muawiyah soon declared his own Caliphate. A civil war, known as the Battle of Siffin, would ensue. Facing defeat, Muawiyah ordered his army to put pages of the Quran on the tip of their lances. This ploy led to arbitration. That arbitration resulted in an uneasy truce, namely, Muamiyah was to rule Syria whereas Ali was to rule Arabia, Iraq and Persia.

Over time, Ali’s supporters would be known as Shi’atu Ali (supporters of Ali) or Shiites in short. Muamiyah outlived Ali and founded the Umayyad Dynasty. A third group, the Kharijites (the “dissenters”) promptly declared both Ali and Muamiyah infidels. The Kharijites became arguably the first ever terrorist group in Islam. Four years after the Battle of Siffin, one of the Kharijites killed Ali. Ali was the 4th Caliph, the last of what the Sunii called the Rightly Guided Caliph. Islam thereafter morphed from a way of life to an empire ruled by a dynasty,

After Muamiyah died, he was replaced by his son, Yazid. His despotic characteristic made him hated by both the Sunnis and the Shiites. He later killed Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet at Karbala, marking a tragic black dot in the history of Islam.

It also marked the first full-fledged incursion by politics into theological intellectualism.

Muamiyah and the Umayyad Dynasty, as we have seen, had legitimacy problems. It had to validate its existence. It tried doing this by adopting the utterly self-righteous title of the Caliphs of God, a title which even the Rightly Guided Caliphs – the closest companions of the Prophet – had deemed unsuitable. Despite the moniker, the Umayyad were by and large corrupt and tyrants. The dynasty just had to validate itself among the Muslim peasantry.

What better way of validating a despotic dynasty other than to use religion?

We have seen in part 1 of this article the polemic on free will versus pre-destiny between the Qadarriyah (who believed in human’s free will) and the Jabriyyah (who believed that all human acts are pre-ordained and pre-destined by God). We have also seen how the Rationalists and the Traditionists were at the forefront of Islamic intellectualism then.

These intellectual polemics took a political turn when the Umayyad began adopting the Pre-destinarian stance of the Jabriyyah group to the exclusion of others. By adopting the Pre-destinarian thesis, the Umayyad found a religious justification to validate itself and legetimise its existence as the ruler of the Islam world.

It was thus argued that all human acts were pre-ordained by God. God had determined everything from the beginning to the end. God must have therefore pre-ordained the sovereignty and reign of the Umayyad. Had God not willed it, the Umayyad would not be on the throne.

Events would soon take turn for worse.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Reclaiming Reason (part 1)

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to sit down and spoke about various aspects of Islam with a well- known ulamak in Malaysia. One particular topic of our conversation would always replay itself in my head.

I asked him of his opinion on the practice by some Muslims in Malaysia who brush their teeth using a piece of wood which was apparently used by the Prophet (peace be upon him) to clean his teeth. The Malays call this wood “kayu sugi.”

He smiled and asked me, “What is important to you, usage of the wood or the cleanliness of your teeth?” Without waiting for a reply from me, he continued, “if the usage of the wood is important to you, you use the wood and if the cleanliness of your teeth is important, you use Coldgate, as do I.” He smiled.

It got me thinking. Have the Muslims misunderstood the sunnah (the Prophet’s acts and sayings – the sayings are known as “hadiths” -, all of which are otherwise known as the “tradition”)?

If for example, we have a sunnah that the Prophet loved to ride horses and learned how to use bow and arrow, what is the real lesson which we could derive from it? Is it that the Muslims should emulate the Prophet by learning how to ride horses and use the bow and arrow or is it that Muslims should stay healthy by leading an active life and perhaps in the process also learn the art of self-defence?

In a speech delivered at the Islamic Information Service's Outreach Award ceremony, on 3rd October 1998 in Beverly Hills, Sheikh Zaki Ahmad Yamani, posits:

But back to how we apply Islamic Law in a modern society, a Muslim society? It's an important issue because first we have to distinguish between Al-Sharia and Al-Fiqh al Islami - Islamic Law and Islamic Jurisprudence. Al-Sharia or Islamic Law, it's what written in the Quran or in the Sunnah. This is obligatory, so to speak. The other part, Al-Fiqh al Islami, is a huge volume of legal opinion (sic)….. In Saudi Arabia they apply Hanbli (sic), In Iran they apply Jafri, in Yemen they apply a blend of Zaidi and Shafa'i. And so on. That is not really the Islamic Law.

What we applied 10 centuries ago or 15 centuries ago it cannot be really applied today at a time when camel was the only means of transportation.”

Judging from current trend in Malaysia, where adherence to the strict and almost literal meaning of the sunnahs is the norm, Sheikh Zaki’s statement above is astounding, to say the least. Some people may even argue that it is heresy.

Effectively, what the good Sheikh was saying is the various schools of thought and what they represent is not really Islamic Law. Thus it is not obligatory or mandatory for contemporary Muslims to subscribe a slavish adherence to the various principles which those schools propound.

Sheikh Zaki is not alone in his thinking. Contemporary Muslim jurists, such as Tariq Ramadhan have often made a case for a complete re-look and re-thinking of Syariah (Islamic code laws). Tariq Ramadhan has even gone as far as suggesting that the Muslim world should suspend the application of hudud laws until such time when a complete Islamic social justice is attained in Islamdom thereby laying a fair path for a thorough Syariah application.

Islamic history would show that in a period of almost unsurpassed intellectualism in medieval Islam (using the word “medieval” to describe this period is almost unfair as the intellectual expression of this era was anything but medieval), there were various schools of thought called the Rationalists which pursued a rational and reasoned methodology of interpreting and applying Islamic laws. Against them were of course the Traditionists, who insisted on strict and almost literal application of the tradition and the Quran, thereby reducing Islam into a one dimensional legal code instead of a dynamic “ad-deen” (way of life) for which the Quran lays the foundation.

Question on whether the Quran was “created” or whether it was “un-created,” for example, was intellectually pursued by the Rationalists. So was the question on whether human beings have free-will and are therefore solely responsible for all their actions on Earth (as propounded by the Qadariyah) or whether everything was pre-destined or pre-ordained by God (as posit by the Jabriyyah) was explored with vigour.

In fact, one of the four recognised sunni schools of thought, the Hanafi school, chose to use reason and rationale in propounding its rulings and in interpreting the Quran. Mustafa Aykol in “Islam Without Extreme” quotes Eric E F Bishop in “Al-Shafi’I, Founder of a Law School” as saying about Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafi school:

“He felt apparently that local conditions differed, and that even if Medina was through force of circumstances the city of Muhammad, yet it was a desert town and therefore you could not possibly expect a desert law to apply to city life, when it came to matters of universal import. [Hence Abu Hanifa relied in threefold cord of Koran, qiyas, and Ra’i with occasional use for istihsan and scarcely any for Hadith (tradition).”

“Ra’i” or otherwise referred to as “ra’y” refers to reason or reasoned opinion.

The opposite of Abu Hanifa and the Hanafi school was of course the Hanbali school, founded by and premised upon the ultra-traditionist teaching of Ahmad Hanbal, whose principles and rulings are applied to Saudi Arabia as stated by Sheikh Zaki in the preceding paragraphs. Ahmad Hanbal was known to adhere strictly on the tradition. He reputedly did not eat watermelon because he could not find a precedent for that in the tradition. He was also reported to have asked his wife not to wear a certain kind of shoes as those shoes were not in existence during the Prophet’s time.

Abu Hanifa, on the other hand, was a known sympathiser of a group of jurists known as the Murjiites (or the “Postponers”). The Postponers believed in a state of suspension of judgment in that theological disputes should be postponed to the afterlife to be settled by God. They in fact are probably the first known Muslim jurists who promoted pluralism.

The Hanbalis however gained political support during the reign of Al-Mutawakkil, the Abbasid ruler. In 935, Ibn al-Athir, wrote:

“In that year the Hanbali affair became more distressing as their fury intensified. They began to raid the houses of the commanders and of the common people, and if they found wine they poured it away, and if they found a singing girl they beat her and broke her instruments. They hindered buying and selling and delayed men who were walking along with women and youths, to question them about their companions. If the answer failed to satisfy them they beat the men and dragged them to the chief of police and testified about their immoral acts. The Hanbalis wrought discord upon Baghdad.” (quoted in Akyol’s book above).

The gulf of differences of theocratic opinions between the Rationalists and Traditionists did not however in any way weaken Islam or its grip on the world political power. The dynamic interplay between the various schools of thought and jurisprudence rather served to enrich and promote the vibrancy of the Islamic agenda, be it social, political and even economic.

Alas, such enriching culture was soon ended by various circumstances.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Gong Xi Fa Cai

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Happy Chinese New year. Gong Xi Fa Cai. To all my Chinese friends and Malaysians who celebrate this auspicious festival.


May the year of the snake bring us all prosperity, good health and peace of mind.


And may the snake scare away all the slimy sleazy frogs, which, I foresee might infest our landscape soon.


To all Malaysians who do not celebrate CNY, happy holidays.


To all of you who will be on the roads, please drive carefully.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who Is Third Party?

By now, I am sure every Malaysian and his Proton Preve has watched Malaysia’s answer to Gangnam Style on Youtube. No, by that I didn’t mean the Terima Kasih video. I meant the now infamous “Listen Listen Listen” video.

I am not going to waste this blog’s space to discuss what was said by the student. Nor do I intend to delve into the very civil and educative reaction by the facilitator of the student forum at UUM. I am more concerned by the seemingly innocuous aspect of the LLL Video, an aspect which a great many of us missed.

 

The now (in)famous LLL Video

At the beginning of the LLL Video, there was this “oath” that the students took. Again, I am not going to discuss the whole oath. A part of the so-called oath was this:

“We support….peace, harmony and welfare (of the people)….without the interference of Third Party…” (literal translation by myself).

In its original language:

“Kami menyokong….keamanan, keharmonian dan kesejahteraan (rakyat)…tanpa campurtangan Pihak Ke-tiga.”

From time immemorial, Third Party has been blamed for every kind of disaster, calamity and bad tidings. Third Party must be the most blameful of God’s creature. Right from the beginning of humanity, Third Party has been responsible for whatever incidents or occurrences, provided that such incidents or occurrences are bad in nature. By bad I mean to say that such incidents or occurrences don’t turn out as planned.

The original Third Party

It all started with Adam and Eve of course. To cut a long – and very well known – story short, all of us were thrown out of the garden of Eden, because, erm…of Third Party. Here Third Party took the form of a snake. Quite why the snake was not bashed to smithereens upon its appearance remains a mystery. Otherwise, we would all be running in slo-mo in the garden now. And I would not be typing this article. However, that was the first – and earliest – record of Third Party having interfered with our live.

During the Clinton administration, Third Party was nearly caught. Or so it was believed. Clinton loves to smoke cigars. And he had quite a collection too. He loves cigars because he loves to smoke things without inhaling, apparently. Quite why the CIA had never investigated whether Clinton’s cigars were contraband from Cuba is beyond us. I, however digress. Sorry.

Back to Clinton’s cigars and Third Party. Clinton and the whole Capitol Hill’s population were often left wondering why his cigars kept on diminishing in numbers. The Secret Service and CIA were dead sure that Third Party was involved. An operation ensued to snare Third Party. Until one day, a Monica Lewinsky was caught having a cigar. Third Party was nowhere to be seen.

Monica Lewinsky – mistaken for Third Party

Just walk into any of our Courts in the middle of a drug trafficking trial I can assure you 99% of the time, the accused would say the drug wasn’t his or hers. The drug was left with him or her for caretaking by Third Party. Oh this Third Party. He/she/it is everywhere, isn’t he/she/it?

Possible Third Party in divorce proceedings?

Come out from the drug trial and walk into the family Court or the Syariah Court in the middle of a divorce proceeding. I can also assure you that 98.9% of the time, divorces is blamed on Third Party.

So you see, all of humanity was thrown out of paradise because of Third Party. Presidents and men of power have been shamed by Third Party. People have been sent to the gallows because of Third Party. Marriages crumble, relationship break up and wars happen because of Third Party. Third Party is the scum of this earth, the cretin who quite often crawl out of his/her/its hovel to infect all of us with bad tidings, bad luck and just plain badness. I tell you, if I find Third Party, I would handcuff her/him/it and beat her/him/it to instant coronary failure. Such is my absolute detestation of this creature, Third Party.

Do not however mistake Third Element with Third Party. In Le Tour de France, Lance Armstrong did not win seven times because of Third Party. He won because of Third Element.

So was the goal scored by Diego Maradona against the long suffering English team in the 1986 World Cup. No. That wasn’t aided by Third Party. That was apparently god showing off what he can do with his hand. And that also shows that god watches, if not plays, football.

This is Third Element, not Third Party

Speaking of football, many think that in the case of Manchester United, Third Party always help them to win. These people however forget that that this so-called Third Party has quite often helped Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea to win too.

In Luis Suarez’ case however, it is arguable that Third Party takes the form of his own hand (arguably, it is god’s hand again). Sometime, Third Part becomes invisible and trip Suarez in the penalty box causing him to fall and earn a penalty.

The time will come when Luis Suarez becomes aware of Third Party’s presence and starts blaming Third Party for causing him to inexplicably fall in the penalty box. When asked why he falls without any apparent touch by his opponent, he might say:

“I zon’t know. I wuz runnin’ and Third Party tripz me and ze I fell…”

Third Party turned invisible to trip Luis Suarez

Such is the presence, effect and interference of Third Party in our daily live.

I applaud the UUM students for their astute realisation that Third Party is within us, bent on creating havoc. I also applaud their courage and bravery in making it known that Third Party will not allowed to interfere with our peace, harmony and welfare.

Well done.

Ps As much as I would like to guarantee that Third Party did not in any way interfered with this article, sadly, I can’t. For all I know, Third Party had invisibly typed this while I was asleep.

Friday, January 18, 2013

All In The Name of God

Many people do many things all in the name of God. The irony is the very things which they do in the name of God are abhorred by God. Or even prohibited by Him.

History will show us that human beings have tortured, maimed and killed each other, all in the name of God. Untold misery and cruelty have been inflicted all in the name of God. Yet, when they speak of God and their religion, they insist that God is most merciful, most compassionate and most forgiving. And their religion is a religion of peace, justice and fairness.

In Islam for example, history would show us all that right after the passing of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., Muslims started arguing on who would be the right candidate to be the Caliph. Then they started killing each other. Until now that is.

The Traditionalist was a loose grouping of mainstream conservative schools who called themselves ahli-sunnah-wal-jamaah (the proponents of the Prophet’s traditions and consensus). They posit that the Caliph should be elected by the influential members of the community. This was also generally accepted by another group, the Khawarij. The only difference between these two groups was that while the former narrowed the qualification to be a Caliph to just the Quraysh tribe (Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was from the Quraysh tribe), the Khawarij did not have such qualification. The Khawarij in fact believed that a Caliph may even be removed if he breached his mandate.

This general agreement between the two groups however ended at the end of the reign of the 3rd Caliph, Uthman. His successor, Caliph Ali was met with opposition from the Khawarij as they did not agree with Caliph Ali’s compromise with the Shi’a.

The Shi’a further narrowed the qualification for the Caliphate to the family members of the Prophet in particular, the Prophet’s son-in-law, Ali and his descendants. The Shi’a argued that the head of Islam, politically and religiously, being the most important position, must not be left to human consensus and determination and thus must be so restricted.

The irony of all these is that God has never ordained that only the Quraysh or the members of the Prophet’s family could be a leader in Islam.

Soon, of course, they started killing each other. After the 4th Caliphs, namely, Caliph Ali (the first 4 Caliphs in Islam are known as the “Rightly Guided Caliphs”), what originated as a deep political schism, imbued by misplaced tribal ego, resulted in vicious hatred when theological justification was used as political validation.

Soon after Caliph Ali, the so-called Islamic leadership or state was reduced into a dynasty, starting with the Ummayad. Caliph Mu’awiya started the Ummayad dynasty which lasted nearly a hundred years. The Abbasid dynasty replaced the Ummayad in Damascus. The slaughter of the Ummayad family in their palace during the “dinner of reconciliation” is well documented.

An Ummayad prince was saved from the slaughter when he was smuggled out from the palace. He ended in the Andalus and became Caliph in present-day Spain. Islam thus had two ruling dynasty, namely, the Abbasid ruling from Damascus and later, Baghdad and the Ummayad, ruling from Spain.

At this time, Islamic theology flourished, seemingly because of the Caliph’s thirst for knowledge and enlightenment. It was during this period – the so-called “Golden Age of Islam” that we saw the rise of “Ilm-al-kalam” (the science of debate).

What started as a political schism between the Khawarij, the traditionalist and the Shi’a groups over the right to become Caliph and to rule soon degenerated into a theological teasers that later further degenerated into an inquisition. It was at about this time that a the Mu’tazila or the Rationalists appeared.

The Mu’tazila used the power of reason to argue and debate. They saw the necessity to explore God and His creation and submerged themselves over questions such as “was the Quran the words of God” or “was it created?” They also posit that man has absolute freedom of will and is his own creator of his acts. This found agreement with the other groups such as the Zadariyya and Qadariyya. The Jabriyya and to a certain extent, the Khwarij, - who believed in pre-destination by God - vehemently opposed this notion.

Matters came to a head when the Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun – widely believed to have been instigated by the Mu’tazilis – started the Mihna, an inquisition to force Muslims to believe the doctrine that the Quran was created. Many who did not subscribe to this doctrine were tortured and killed. The well-known Muslim jurist, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, wgo refused to yield to this doctrine, was imprisoned and flogged until he was unconscious. Elsewhere, traditionalists were hunted, arrested and tortured.

That led to the demise of the Mu’tazila, as soon the people began to dislike the group and its hands in the Mihna. To be fair, there are scholastic papers which found that the Mihna was Caliph al-Ma’mun’s own initiative and had nothing to do with the Mu’tazila.

Human beings either do not or refuse to learn from history. Throughout the passage of time, theology has continued to be used to justify and therefore, validate political acts. The blame lies, on one hand with the politicians and on the other, with the compliant ears of the masses.

In 1981, this edict was given by the person who recently, made known his aspiration to be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia, Haji Hadi Awang:

“My brothers, believe me. We oppose UMNO not because its name is UMNO, we oppose the Barisan Nasional not because its name is Barisan Nasional. We oppose them because they continue with the Constitution of the colonial, continue with the regulations of the infidel, continue with the regulations of the ignorant. Because of that we struggle to fight them. Believe me brothers, our struggle is a divine struggle (jihad). Our speech is jihad, our donation is jihad and because we struggle against these groups, if we die in our fights, our death is martyrdom, our death is an Islamic death. We do not have to join the Jews, we do not have to profess Christianity, we do not have to profess Hinduism, we do not have to profess Buddhism, but we will be infidels if we say politic is a quarter and religion is a quarter.”

Perhaps it is time we stop using religion and God.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year

Today is the first day of 2013. Time sure flies! And so I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy New Year. May 2013 bring all of us nothing but goodness, good health and peace of mind. And a bit of wealth wouldn’t be out of order too.

Of course we are also thankful that the Mayans have been proven wrong. Unless of course the Mayans arranged their dates just like the Americans. Which means the Mayan’s 21.12.2012 should actually read 12.02.2112. Even then, 2112 is a hundred years to come. Every one of us will be dead by then. So you see, who says death is not a solution?

I am sure many will have new resolution for 2013. I for one have been having the same new-year resolution for the past three years and this year I am having the same resolution again. It is a simple resolution which I am supposed to do every day of the year. Well, simple it may be but to achieve it one would need to be zen-ful. And there lies the problem.

I resolve not to lose my temper or be angry or upset while driving. As an extension to that, I also resolve to always be courteous while driving, not get bothered when people cut in front of me or when they tailgate me or when they do whatever Malaysian drivers do on the roads. So far, I have to say I have managed to carry out this resolution 40-50% of the time. That is hardly a success story. However, each time I manage to ignore a traffic pest I almost felt nirvana.

When a typical queue jumper cuts me from the left, I would try telling myself “it’s okay, you are not in a hurry and he may need to go to the hospital.” Or “he drives an uncomfortable car and he needs to get out of his car as soon as possible.” Sometimes it worked. And most of the times, it did not.

The times that it worked however were almost blissful. To let go of a small upsetting incident so that we could enjoy our life – and in the process, avoid high blood pressure, stress and other life threatening conditions – is, to me, good living. And worth trying.

We may overlook it but most of the times, it is the small efforts which yield better and more meaningful result. On Youtube recently, there was a video which went viral. It was a video of a man celebrating the birthday of a homeless person. They were speaking Spanish. But the language of humanity is universal. The smile and joy on the homeless person’s face brings instant realisation that out there, there are millions of people who are needful in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine. And it doesn’t take even a hundred ringgit to make one or two people to smile.

Right in the middle of Chow Kit for example, is a house for street children, Rumah Nursalam. It has hundreds of street kids of Chow Kit registered with it. They would come for food and for some TV or even lessons for days and they would disappear for days before coming back. Most of them are fatherless as their mother doesn’t know who their father is. Because of that they can’t get birth certificates. The sum of that is they could not be enrolled into schools. The ultimate result is they would end up as sex workers or even drug addicts and be exploited by syndicates and the likes for the rest of their life.

You don’t need a hundred ringgit to help out. You can spend an hour on a weekend or after work at Rumah Nursalam to just talk to them. Or to impart some skills or knowledge to them. Or to just show that somebody cares.

We talk about human rights, freedom and liberty. We do that probably because Obama keeps on repeating those words. What mercy have we shown to the blind and needy? Don’t they have the basic rights to food, shelter, education and love? While it is good to possess, it is also good – and may be even better – to give.

The single most unifying event in 2012 in the whole world is not one which takes hundreds of millions of dollars to achieve, like Obama’s Presidential victory. Or the London Olympics.

Just like Dato’ Lee Chong Wei’s fighting spirits and never-say-die attitude or Pandalela’s unlikely Olympian achievement or Dato’ Nicol Davids’ consistency bring much unified feeling of nationalism and national one-ness, there was one astounding world unifying act.

It is a Youtube video sensation which has had one billion hits so far.

Yes. Gangnam Style.

Think about it.