Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Reading the Holy Quran

I had to admit that in the past, I recited the Quran on occasions. However, as I grew up, I started reading the Quran more frequently, from once a week, to once every few days, and finally to at least once a day.

And upon completion of reciting, I felt lightheaded, calm, and on occasions, came up with a solution for whatever glitches that I was facing.

Eversince a couple of weeks ago, I was frequently away from home, with the first week within mastautin range, and the following week being a musafir (traveller) in another region.

During the first week, I returned home quite late, and the only thing on my mind was "up, up, and away!!!" (flop on the bed).

When I travelled to another region, I left my copy of the kitab at home, thus not reciting the Quran.

A few days ago, I noticed a change in my personality; I became less calm, nervous, lost, and can not control my senses. Why, this afternoon in Perai, I openly cursed a driver for being pigheaded (between you and me, looking at the chap himself, a concious person would have agreed that he's not worth being tolerated).

Seriously, as I am a chap that travels frequently, be it for leisure or official purposes, I need to get myself a small Quran that is suitable for mobility purposes.

It is true, that when a man recites the Quran, he is at peace...

Sunday, 14 December 2008

A Middle Class Malay Perspective

(Artikel ini diambil dari laman The Star Online edisi 14 Disember 2008)

IN the strident and unnecessarily unpleasant debate over the concept of ketuanan Melayu and the Malay community’s political future, the quiet voices of urban middle-class Malays have yet to make themselves heard.

As a partial corrective, I spoke to several members of a tribe that, while small in number, is intriguing from a social anthropology perspective.

The Malays of the anak Datuk class – the children of senior civil servants and technocrats whose parents’ careers in public service predated the Mahathir era – are interesting in that their values and ideas about Malaysia must have been formed at least in part by their families’ experiences of nation building.

As their parents made the country, it stands to reason that they would have a considerable emotional stake in how it develops in the future.

Even within this rarefied sub-caste of children of the Establishment who are not themselves involved in politics, however, their feelings about ketuanan Melayu show a marked diversity.

Fahmi Fadzil, 27, is a writer and performer. He is the son of Datuk Fadzil Yunus, the former director-general – and later general manager – of the Felda group of companies, and Datin Fauziah Ramly, a senior civil servant who was most recently a Commissioner with the Public Service Commission.

I asked him what he makes of the concept of ketuanan Melayu.

“I never grew up thinking about it very much. My parents never spoke to me about it. Even when I was in college the whole matter was never really present in how I saw things.

“I think because I live in KL – and especially because my parents came from that group of earlier middle class Malay civil servants – I don’t think I would subscribe to ideas of ketuanan Melayu.”

But does he subscribe in any way to the idea that the Malays are the natural leaders – or in some way the owners – of Malaysia?

“No. On my father’s side I’m the fourth generation born on this peninsula, on my mother’s side just the third generation, so I see myself as a pendatang too. I don’t subscribe to the idea of a natural leadership role for the Malays.

“More than that, as a Muslim, I don’t see the need for this. There is no such thing as one group being ethnically superior to another.

“The thing I remember most from school, from kelas agama, (is that) from the early days of Islam there was a clear message that you were all the same. Whether you were Arabs or not, you are all the same now.

“We should be talking about values and principles held by people rather than subscribing to simplistic ideas of certain ethnicities being the owners of the land. I don’t subscribe to that, and even if I did, I think the rightful owners would be the Orang Asal.”

Datuk Zahim Albakri, 45, the director and actor, is the son of Datuk Ikmal Hisham Albakri, the first Malay architect and the first President of Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia, who designed the National Library, Putra World Trade Centre, and the Bank Bumiputera headquarters in KL.

Zahim’s grandfather, Datuk Seri Mustafa Albakri, of the Malayan Civil Service, was the first Commissioner of the Election Commission and the first Keeper of the Ruler’s Seal.

For Zahim, coming to grips with the concept of ketuanan Melayu means dispelling ambiguity: “There seems to be a confusion between the bumiputera policy (the New Economic Policy) and the idea of ketuanan Melayu. The bumiputera policy was a reaction to the riots of 1969, whereas ketuanan Melayu, in the Constitution, I don’t think is particularly giving special privileges or rights to the Malays, it’s to ensure that the Malay Rulers have a certain place, to ensure that those institutions continue.

“I grew up in a family where we were brought up with the understanding that the Malay rulers are there, and this is our history, our culture.

“I grew up with my granddad being proudly Malay, and proudly Orang Perak. There was this sense of being proud of our culture. But never were we made to think that being Malay gave us a right to something beyond.

“I was brought up (to believe) that every citizen in Malaysia was equal. I was never brought up believing that Malays should have more than everyone else.”

How would he feel about a non-Malay Prime Minister?

“I have no problem with a non-Malay PM. It should be about their competence. It should be the best person for the job.”

The composer Datin Saidah Rastam comes from a family steeped in public life. Her maternal grandfather was Perak’s 14th Datuk Panglima Kinta, who held 56 public service posts at the time of his death. Her father is Datuk Rastam Hadi, the former managing director of Petronas and former deputy governor of Bank Negara. Her husband is the urbane lawyer-turned-banker Datuk Charon Mokhzani (who, with exquisite politeness, declined to be interviewed for this article).

Says Saidah, “I think the races should be treated equally and the biggest thing that makes me uneasy about the concept of ketuanan Melayu is that it’s increasingly being used in fascist ways.”

She believes that the NEP “was a necessary thing at the time, given the racial tensions, but that’s different from the concept of Malay supremacy”.

She points to the historical record: “Tun Razak said that that was only for that time, and this NEP thing would end at some point, so that’s different from the notion that there’s an inherent Malay supremacy that can’t be questioned, which I’m very uneasy with.

“I’m somebody who benefited from the policies which favoured Malays – at the outset I’m happy to admit that. But looking at things today, my personal view is that we should give everybody equal opportunities because the policies favouring Malays haven’t been used properly.

“And given that the people who are supposed to safeguard the correct implementation of the policies are the same ones who benefit from them, I’m not optimistic that those policies will be correctly implemented.”

Dain-Iskandar Said is a writer and film director. His father was Datuk Mohamed Said Zain, a diplomat and intelligence officer.

He sees the concept of ketuanan Melayu as “outmoded, out of step with the times we live in, when the world is becoming more and more global. The world over, people are bringing down barriers of race, yet we are trying to instill and install those outmoded values.”

In his eyes, there are many aspects to the problem. “First, what is a Malay? Most Malays I know are some kind of mix, so who defines being Malay? Who are the guardians of the definition?

“The definition of ketuanan Melayu seems to be Umno; it always seems to lead back to Umno’s agenda.

“I’m not saying that outside of it it’s not valid; it may be valid to a lot of people. I can understand that. The main problem is the way it’s implemented. The tone of it is fascistic.”

For him, the promotion of the tenets of ketuanan Melayu “exposes deep insecurity, because if you really believe you are leading this country, what are you so scared of? I don’t think any of the other races want to take that away from you. They can’t, because in the Constitution are enshrined certain precepts.”

Dain argues that our debate is impoverished. “While many of us middle class Malays can be liberal and open, there’s never been any kind of infrastructure that supports ideas or traditions of openness.

“So on the one hand you have people who are willing to be open and liberal, but on the other hand it is so easy to destroy it, because there is no critical, intellectual or educational infrastructure to support those ideas.

“When you attack something that has no support, it is so easy to play to the rural Malay masses, to instill that kind of fear, and make people feel extremely powerless.

“There’s no tradition of talking critically about race and identity politics. You’re almost suspended in a vacuum.”

This is a vacuum that we need to fill with the plurality and diversity of our opinions. It has always been the position of Wide Angle that Malaysia’s many problems and tensions should not be ignored; they need to be addressed by continued, forthright yet respectful debate by citizens, and the issue of ketuanan Melayu is no exception.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Ir. Nizar & Khutbah 'Eidul Fitr

Tadi, aku pergi menunaikan solat Isya' di masjid berhampiran dengan rumah aku. Dah lama tak solat berjemaah di masjid. Tambahan, waktu malam tak ada kerja, nak keluar...keluar ke mana? Aku ni bukannya gemar sangat merayau di shopping complex yang bertimbun - timbun di sekitar Subang Jaya dan Petaling, melainkan kalau ada benda yang hendak dicari, atau kalau nafsu makan satu macam.

Anyhow, lepas solat Isya' tadi, bertakbirlah sekalian jemaah masjid. Dan sedang bertakbir inilah aku kenangkan kampung, dan di situ aku teringat satu peristiwa. Peristiwa yang mana aku menyaksikan khutbah 'Eidul Fitr yang tercantik setakat ini.

Ianya merupakan 'Eidul Fitr tahun 2006, juga raya terakhir buat almarhum Atok (meninggal 7 bulan kemudian). Tahun itu, giliran beraya di kampung Mak di Kampar, Perak. Sepertimana semenjak dahulukala, kami akan menunaikan solat di Masjid Jamek Kampar (beralih kepada Markaz PAS Kampar...tahun berapa, aku tak ingat, gara - gara tindakan majlis ugama islam Perak yang menarik balik status masjid, melarang kuliah - kuliah, serta tiada saluran kewangan).

Adapun Masjid An-Nur yang lebih dekat dengan Taman Melayu Jaya yang lebih baru (est. 1989), kami lebih rela ke Masjid Jamek, kerana kawasan sekitar itu tempat almarhum Atok dilahirkan membesar. Tambahan, Atok, aku, Abah dikenali oleh kariah masjid, sebahagiannya pernah menjadi anak murid Atok.

Khatib jemputan adalah seorang insan yang mana setahun setengah kemudian diberi gelaran Menteri Besar Perak. Ya, beliau adalah Ir Mohd. Nizar Jamaluddin, anak jati kampung di mana terletaknya masjid tersebut.

Pada waktu itu beliau, kalau menurut YDP PAS Kampar, masih merupakan jurutera di Pulau Pinang. Di dalam khutbah beliau, khutbah pertama menyentuh tentang hal ehwal semasa yang melibatkan umat Islam (IFC, SIS, Lina Joy, Amina Wadud, Astora Jabat dll.).

Khutbah kedua yang menarik perhatian aku, yang mana beliau menyatakan (lebih kuranglah...),

"...pada hari ini, takbir raya hanya dilaungkan oleh tekong - tekong muzik yang merdu suara mereka. Umat Islam sudah lupa asalnya takbir raya itu..."

Hakikatnya, memang itulah yang berlaku. Ramai yang sudah lupa sebab asalnya kita diseru bertakbir pada kedua - dua hari raya. Ada yang menganggapnya sebagai budaya Melayu, sepertimana tuntutan berpuasa itu. Kerana tidak tahu, tidak memahami, dan tidak menghayati asal - usul takbir itu, maka tidak menghairankan apabila bertakbir, semua pakat buat suara lesu, macam nak tak nak aje bertakbir. Semua pakat tidak bersemangat.

Takbir tak bersemangat, maka wujud keinginan nak balik cepat, terkenangkan lemang dan ketupat di rumah, nak bypass khutbah raya (walaupun aku tak nafikan sesetengah khutbah memang cukup memualkan). Kalau khutbah raya pun 'ponteng', sia - sia aje kau keluar rumah ke masjid menunaikan solat.

Maka, apabila kita bertakbir, janganlah kita bertakbir sepertimana orang baru bangun tidur. Takbir itu melambangkan kemenangan umat Islam. Kalau menang pilihanraya, arak bendera satu pekan. Semangat pulak. Apa kurangnya dengan mengenangkan kemenangan Islam?

Fikir - fikirkanlah sendiri...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Memandu: Sebelah kanan, atau kiri?

Di dalam dunia ini, ada dua kaedah memandu kenderaan; memandu di sebelah kiri, atau di sebelah kanan. Negara - negara Komanwel dan beberapa negara lain memandu di sebelah kanan, manakala yang selebihnya memandu di sebelah kiri. Mengapa berlaku begini?

Al-kisah...kalau tak silap lah...

Pada zaman kerajaan Rom, apabila tenteranya berjalan, mereka berjalan di sebelah kiri jalanraya dan memakai pedang mereka di sebelah kanan. Ini supaya mereka lebih bersedia andaikata diserang di tengah - tengah perjalanan.

Sementara itu, kerajaan Perancis di era Napoleon Bonaparte melakukan perkara yang sama, tetapi berjalan di sebelah kanan, pedang di sebelah kiri. Ini menjadi asas kepada sebab sesetengah negara memandu di sebelah kiri, dan sesetengah lagi di sebelah kanan.

Sewaktu menetap di United Kingdom dahulu, kami sekeluarga kerap menyeberang Selat Inggeris ke negara - negara Eropah. Pada waktu itu, tidak ada masalah bertukar dari sebelah kiri ke sebelah kanan, kerana feri menjadi pengantara...tahu - tahu sudah berada di sebelah kanan jalanraya.

Secara umumnya tiada masalah memandu kereta Britain di Eropah, kecuali kalau memandu di jalan kampung, dan hendak memotong lori. But then again, potong - memotong jarang berlaku.

Di Malaysia, kita tidak berdepan dengan proses bertukar dari kiri ke kanan, kerana satu, melainkan ke Singapura dan selatan Thailand, rata - rata rakyat Malaysia jarang memandu memasuki negara jiran. Dua, negara - negara jiran yang berkongsi sempadan memandu di sebelah kiri sepertimana Malaysia.

Pagi tadi, aku ke Shah Alam untuk membayar bil air dan zakat harta abah. Selesai membayar bil, aku teringat...belum sarapan daa... Jadi aku singgah di Cold Storage untuk membeli air tin Green Tea, dan makanan untuk disantap di dalam perjalanan pulang ke Subang Jaya.

Namun, bila tiba bab makan, memang leceh, sebab aku berada di sebelah kanan, makanan di sebelah kiri. Maka berlakulah siri perpindahan makanan dari bungkusannya ke tangan kiri, dihulurkan ke tangan kanan, dan seterusnya ke dalam mulut. Nasib baik dari tangan kanan tak terlepas ke tangan jurutol...kalau jadi...tobat lain kali aku balik ikut Jalan Glenmarie.

Pada waktu itulah baru aku terfikir,

"Kalau aku memandu di sebelah kiri, banyak sunnah yang aku boleh accomplish dalam kereta..."

1. Makan/minum dengan tangan kanan
2. Masuk kereta dengan kaki kanan, keluar dengan kaki kiri

Aku teringat suatu ketika dahulu, ada seorang tabligh yang selalu solat di surau sekolah lama aku (masa cuti SPM, aku selalu lepak situ solat Maghrib dan Isya' bersama rakan - rakan alumni Badan Kebajikan Surau). Sungguhpun tempat duduk pemandu di sebelah kanan, beliau tetap akan melangkah masuk menggunakan kaki kanan.

Aku pernah cuba sekali, tobat tak nak buat dah! Tersimpul kaki aku.

Entahlah, yeop. Bak kata orang putih,

"Live life as it is."

"Live and let live."

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Hammer, Its Flexibility & Relationship With Da'wah

After four months, I finally returned to my hometown in Subang Jaya, Selangor...this time driving, as I was coming home for good (hopefully, with Allah's blessings), the car itself being in Penang for almost a year, as I usually take the train or flight (one time only...) home during certain holidays, if not returning only as far as my granny's in Kuala Kangsar, Perak.

But, enough of that. Let's get to the real story...

Upon returning home, the first channel I watched was Channel 551 (Discovery Channel). I have a craze on television documentaries, usually physics, history, engineering, but excluding biological documentaries...not me line, mate!

By coincidence, the programme that was currently being aired is Mythbusters; a documentary where they test legendary myths using scientific, and most of the time...wacky methods. On that particular programme, they were conducting an experiment based on a myth stating that when two hammers collide, it emits a explosive spark.

They used two types of hammers; a modern hammer, and an old-fashioned hammer. The deviation between these hammers is that the old-fashioned hammer is very hard, as it is mixed with carbon compounds (not initially purified before being moulded), whilst the modern hammer consists of only pure steel, therefore being slightly soft.

I was not interested in the results obtained from the conducted was the hammers that caught my attention.

The old-fashioned hammer, being physically hard...and brittle, had no flexibility characteristics, and therefore...according to the laws of physics...can not absorb any given impact towards it (impulse).

The modern hammer, on the other hand, has flexibility characteristics, though not visible to the naked eye. Therefore, it is able to absorb any given impact towards it.

In the old days, blacksmiths were injured, usually by the old-fashioned hammer. How was it possible? Well, lacking the ability to absorb impacts, the impact energy "attacks" the molecular structure of the hammer, breaking the bond, creating metal chips and debris that bounce blindly into mid-air, ocassionally hitting the blacksmiths on the cheeks, forehead, anywhere possible.

Relationships with da'wah? Well, to be honest, it ain't the hammer, chum. It be ye olde flexibility characteristics and effects.

Basically, when referring to the term da'wah, it is the process of delivering knowledge, advice from one who knows, to another who knows not, from a preacher to a preached (mad'u).

Ocassionally, the da'wah is performed, but it does not reach the mad'u. Usually, one who is referred to as a preacher, forgets that he/she and the mad'u are different in many ways; they do not have the same level of understanding, they do not have the same method of understanding, they are not previously exposed to the same environment(s) which played a role in building their personalities.

When the preacher does not understand this fact, he/she tends to preach based on his/her level of understanding and methods, at most times not synchronized to that of the mad'u.

Therefore, it is important that a preacher be flexible when it comes to preaching, so that the preacher can regulate his/her method of preaching to suit the level of those who are around him/her, thus easing the flow of knowledge, advice into them. In some communities, unorthodox methods are required, provided they do not override the guidelines introduced by Islam. But hey, man was designated to be different from others in characteristics, so that they have the urge to learn from one another.

Remember the impact received by the hammers, and its effects? Well, consider the impact as the mad'u. If you are as flexible as the modern hammer, you are able to 'absorb' them. But, be the old-fashioned hammer, and not only do you not successfully pass on knowledge, you destruct yourself, as how the hammer chips itself.

True, many scholars remain constant wherever they preach. But then, unlike us, they are renowned nationwide. Everywhere they go, they are known to the public; streets, avenues, lanes, mews, alleys, towers, masjids, corporations. People are familiar with their methods of preaching, and have naturally adapted to it.

Therefore, be flexible in whatever you do, at any given time, as you must know and acknowledge that the people around you have almost no similar characteristics compared to yours, and therefore must understand their characteristics so that you can communicate effectively with them.

Rehlah @ Sedim, Kedah

Pada awal pagi Selasa, seangkatan rombongan terdiri daripada 18 orang sahabat (termasuk seorang yang ponteng praktikal...ceroi punya budak) berangkat meninggalkan Permatang Pauh di dalam 3 buah kereta, dan 4 buah motorsikal memasuki Lebuhraya Butterworth-Kulim menuju ke Lata Sedim, kira - kira sejam perjalanan.

Setibanya kami di tapak perkelahan, kami meredah tebing sungai menghala ke hulu bagi mencari kawasan yang lebih sunyi, kurang atau tiada orang. Kawasan yang kami temui, terletak bersebelahan dengan tapak "Flying Fox". Arus sungai boleh tahan derasnya. Kalau angkat kaki dari dasar sungai, boleh hanyut.

Aksi paling mencabar yang dilakukan, adalah cubaan membuat satu halaqah (bulatan) di dalam sungai, bermusuhkan arus deras Sungai Sedim (lihat klip video). Hatta, beberapa kali terputus talian manusia di dalam usaha mencapai satu bulatan. Namun, yang paling berjaya ialah semi-halaqah :).

Amat menyedihkan bagi salah seorang sahabat, apabila cermin mata beliau hanyut dibawa arus sungai kelior (arah hilir). Nasib baik beliau bukan salah seorang dari kalangan pemandu, dan nasib baik kuasa cermin hanyalah 200+.

Selesai meronyeh di dalam sungai, kami naik ke tebing dan menjamu selera (dibaca: melahap, mentekedarah) spaghetti semangkuk dua. Selesai makan, niat baik nak terjun semula ke dalam sungai. Namun, mengenangkan perut berisi, takut termuntah - muntah dan merosakkan suasana bagi orang - orang yang sedang barmandi - manda nun di hilir sungai. Maka, kami pun menyalin pakaian dan bersiap untuk pulang.

Sedang kami berkemas, seorang ranger datang bertandang lalu bertanyakan siapa ketua di kalangan kami. Maka jari - jari ditudingkan ke arahku (mangkok!!!). Lalu, bersembanglah aku dengan sang ranger, dan mendapati bahawa kami berkelah di kawasan larangan (kawasan reserve Flying Fox), dalam ertikata lain, telah menceroboh.

Aku menjelaskan bahawa kami datang melalui pesisiran sungai, dan bukannya melalui kaki lima yang disediakan pihak taman. Setelah mendengar penjelasan aku, barulah beliau faham macam mana kami boleh terlepas pandang notis larangan yang terletak di tepi kaki lima, yang terletak nun di atas bukit, lantas menjelaskan sejarah wujudnya notis larangan itu.

Selesai berkemas, bergambar, dan memasukkan barang - barang ke dalam bonet kereta, kami berangkat pulang ke Permatang Pauh. Kami tiba di rumah serentak dengan berkumandangnya azan Zohor. Sungguhpun letih, namun rehlah ini amatlah bermanfaat, khususnya di dalam mengeratkan silaturahim si antara kami yang akan meninggalkan Pulau Pinang, dan mereka yang masih belum tamat pengajian.

Monday, 1 December 2008

SRIBU Smart Camp @ Sedim, Kedah

15 November kelmarin, aku menyertai SRIBU Smart Camp sebagai seorang fasilitator. Ini kali pertama aku menjadi fasilitator. Ianya dianjurkan oleh SRIBU (Sekolah Rendah Islam Bahrul 'Ulum) yang terletak di luar pekan Permatang Pauh.

Pengarahnya ialah ustaz Mohd. Yusni Mat Piah, merangkap mudir SRIBU, serta Timbalan Ketua Pemuda PAS Pulau Pinang. Smart Camp ini disertai kira - kira 200 peserta berumur di antara 7 hingga 12 tahun (lelaki + perempuan), 28 orang fasilitator (muslimin + muslimat) yang datang dari pelbagai institusi; UiTM, USM, Institut Perguruan Tengku Bainun, Maktab Mahmud Alor Setar, dan Universiti Al-Azhar Mesir, serta sebilangan urusetia, ustaz, ustazah & kakitangan SRIBU.

Program ini berlangsung di Sedim, Kedah...kira - kira 45 minit perjalanan dari Permatang Pauh.

Aku tak tahu apa nak diceritakan tentang program ini. Tapi, apa yang aku tahu, ini kali pertama aku terlibat menguruskan budak - budak kecil...15 orang sekumpulan!!! 15 kerenah, 15 fe'el, 15 ragam. Nasib baik satu kumpulan ada dua fasilitator. Dan, memandangkan aku satu - satunya anak lelaki dalam keluarga aku, tiada abang, tiada kakak, entah macam mana, hati aku yang 'brutal' boleh jadi lembut...wujud perasaan kasih sayang dan belas kasihan. Al-maklumlah, budak - budak bawah aku lelaki belaka. 22 tahun aku hidup, aku mengadap adik - adik perempuan aku aje.

Apa - apapun, program ini amat - amat bermakna buat diri aku, dan mudah - mudahan diberi peluang menyertai program seperti yang ini pada masa hadapan...