Loyal Followers

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.