The Chronicles of Jerusalem

When I was just a young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, 1st year medical student, in the University of Newcastle, I got into a heated argument with another medical student regarding the issue of Palestine.

Jerusalem belongs to whom, was the matter of contention between the two of us in the Auchmuty Library that morning. It ended up with me feeling battered and stupid. In general, I hate losing a debate. I hate even more when I lose an argument on issues that matter a lot. 

And on that day, I felt like I had lost this particular argument on Palestine. And Palestine matters. A lot!

You see, I was young and fiery. (ehem, I’m still relatively young but less fiery nowadays. Haha… I think). I had more sentiment than facts. And in the end, I lost because I didn’t have enough facts to back me up.

Every debater knows that excellent research is the most crucial aspect of your preparation before you engage your opponent in an argument. Not just any research… but excellent research. Your oratory skills, the inflection of your voice, your outward appearance…. they are merely the icing on the cake of your substantial facts! If you don’t have facts, you will most certainly lose regardless of how much charm you can ooze out of your pores!

However, in my own defense, I didn’t know that I was going to get into a debate of the issue on that day. (Or else I would have done my research like any good debater out there.)

It began as a normal day; me being in the library doing my studying and checking out the news from the internet in between. It began as a discussion on current issues and it so happened that the topic of Palestine cropped up between us. What began as a friendly discussion ended up in a heated snappy comebacks that I was totally unprepared for.

I wanted to educate him so that he could stop spewing biased, unlearned  views regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict. I told him that historically, Palestine belonged to the Palestinians. I told him that Post-World War II, the British had given away Palestine to the Jews when the British had no rights to do so.

He came back at me vehemently and said “Come on! Who are you to say that Palestine belongs to the Palestinian? Just because your Quran says so? But according to the Bible and the Torah, that land belongs to the Jews. God gives the land to the Jews thousand of years ago. So which should we follow? The Quran or the Bible or the Torah?”

Okay, he had a point. Muslims cannot say Palestine belongs to them by making the Quran as their reference because then the Jews and the Christians will say Palestine belongs to them by making the Old and the New Testament as their point of reference. And we will then end up arguing in circles because neither party believes in the other’s holy book.

“No, I am not basing my argument based on anybody’s holy book. But historical facts show that the Palestinians had taken in the Jews who had escaped the Holocaust in Europe and welcome them into Palestine in good faith. Before the Bristish Mandate, Palestine belongs to the Palestinians.”

He scoffed at me and said “And if you want to talk about history…. Sure, before World War I, Palestine was the land of the Palestinians. But thousand of years ago before it was the land of the Muslims, it was also the land of the Jews and the Christians. Before Umar won the war….Jerusalem did not belong to the Muslims, it was the land of the Christians! And then Umar won the war and Muslims then ruled Jerusalem for a time. And then during the Crusades…. the Christians got the land back from the Muslims. And after that, Salahuddin won the land back from the Christians! So historically speaking, should we establish who got the rights to the land based on who FIRST arrived on the land? Because it was not the Muslims who first arrived on the land! Muslims got it much later…because of Umar and Salahuddin!”

I knew I was losing the argument. He had more facts than I did.

He went on to ‘educate’ me in his patronizing tone, “In the case of the Palestine, the land is claimed by three major religions as theirs. Whoever conquers the land would own the land. Once upon a time, the Muslims had wrestled away Palestine from the Christians. And now, the Jews have wrestled away the land from the Muslims. So, whoever wins the land gets to keep the land. It so happens that at this time, the Jews are winning instead of the Muslims.”

In my mind, I reviewed back my knowledge on Palestine history. My brain was working in overdrive, trying to recall the historical chronology:

“Mula-mula Saidina Umar dapatkan Palestin, kemudian Palestin dirampas balik oleh Christians through the Crusades. Kemudian Salahuddin Al-Ayubi dapatkan kembali Palestin. Palestin kemudian memang dimiliki oleh orang Islam berkurun2 lamanya hingga Sultan Hamid II daripada Khalifah Uthmaniyah jatuh…World War I happened… Balfour Declaration 1917 happened ….after World War I, Kerajaan Uthmaniyah dipecah-pecahkan… Palestine jatuh ke tangan British and British Mandate in 1922…. Sistem Khalifah dibubarkan 1924….Then British bagi Palestine kepada Yahudi… Palestinian Exodus/ Nakba pada tahun 1948.”  As I recited the chronology in my brain, I realized how patchy my historical knowledge really was. I didn’t know any real details in any real certainty… because I did not have the opportunity to do a proper and thorough research. And I am the sort of person who is very bad at bluffing or faking it when I don’t know something. I can only sound confident when I really am confident. And I can only be confident if I am convinced. And I can only be convinced if I have read the facts and done the proper research myself. (Other people telling me the facts do not convince me. I have to search and do it myself and read it with my own eyes. That’s my problem.) It is the process, you see! I need to go through the whole process of research before I can be convinced enough to be confident and to sound confident.That’s just how I am. (Yes, I am a control freak with trust issues! Hahah)

Unfortunately at that time, I did not have enough facts and I felt like a fool!

I broke a sweat and in my heart I knew “Aku tak boleh nak bagi argument bahawa Palestin tu milik orang Islam hanya kerana orang Islam lagi lama duduk di Palestin. Sebab sejarah Palestin ialah ia sentiasa direbut dan siapa yang menang, dia yang dapat. Aku tak boleh deny yang argument dia tu valid and logic. Damn, I am stuck!!”

At the end, I could only say to him “Fine, then don’t call the Muslims terrorist. They are trying to fight back for the land and when they win, the land will be theirs. Because according to your views, whoever wins the war for the land could claim the land. So, stop calling the Hamas terrorist while calling the Zionist as the victims. It is a war between them that is yet to end. It is the battle for the holy land.”

We went our separate ways after that. I packed my books, got out of the library and went back to my hostel at Edwards College, abandoning my plans to study in the library…because I knew I would not be able  to focus on my studying anyway. On my long walk back to the college, I was fuming with suppressed anger. Mostly anger at myself! I replayed in my mind the scene of our heated altercation. I analyzed where had I gone wrong.

And after awhile, I realized that from the very beginning I was destined to lose because I had taken the wrong angle. I had said, “Palestine belongs to the Palestinians.” I said that in a way that people would say “Tanah Melayu milik orang Melayu.”

The truth is, no land belongs to any particular race. That’s why “Go back to where you come from” is  a stupid thing to say to someone . Once your ancestors have migrated to another land and breed generation upon generation there, then you belong there! But the land is not yours for you to deny anyone! You belong there…. but the land is not yours! You cannot tell anyone else to go back wherever….because it is not yours!

Can the Native Red Indians say to the White American to go back to the UK because America was originally their land? After all these centuries? Can the aboriginals say to the White Australian to go back to the UK because Australia was originally their land? After all these centuries? Can the Malays say to the Indians/Chinese to go back to India/China? After all these centuries?

Can I say, “Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, so the Israelis should go back to wherever they came from before the World War I, before the Holocaust… back to Poland/German or wherever their ancestors had come from?”

It doesn’t matter how brutally unfair and cruel the method of land acquisition by your ancestors were (talk to the aboriginals in Australia regarding how the White Australians had murdered their native ancestors), but once decades have passed, and generation upon generation have existed in the land, then you belong there just as much as the generation of the original native.

If we were all to go back to where our ancestors came from… well, we all can trace our ancestors to Adam and Eve. And they had come from the heaven. And when you think about it, that’s where we all want to go back to…. we all want to go back to heaven. Right? In this world, we all come from the same ancestor, and therefore the same place… there is no particular place for anyone to go back to in this world. So no one should be able to tell us to go back to somewhere else! Once the migration process have fulfilled the legal requirements of the man-made law, you and your generation belong to the place you have migrated to. It is up to you and and your generation to make the best out of the migration…. to assimilate and integrate into the society as you see fit. (Many Muslims staying in the West have experienced numerous times being told to go back to the middle east. Haha. I myself had experienced such audacious rudeness when I was in Australia. So, next time some impudent rednecks shout at you “Go back to where you come from.” You can just say, “Yes, I am planning to go back to heaven where my ancestors come from. Thank you for your concern.”)

***

When I arrived at my room, I sat on my bed in silence while acknowledging to myself how stupid I was. I deserved to lose. Because my knowledge regarding Palestine was laughable! Spirit and passion alone would not win against cold, hard facts! I called myself as a Muslim… and yet my knowledge about Palestine was superficial at best, and paltry at worst! No wonder I had lost!

It was a wake-up call for me.

Maybe God  wanted me to lose, I thought. So that I would learn. Just because I thought I was arguing for the right cause, it didn’t mean my lack of knowledge was forgivable. I had no business getting into an argument about something important like this without having enough substantial knowledge at the tip of my fingers and I knew it!  (Oh yeah, how much I had learned on that day!) 

It dawned on me that I should have taken the angle of justice. Not the angle of land belonging! Because no one can argue with justice! Whereas land belonging is something arbitrary and arguing on it will lead us nowhere.

I should have said, “Yes, throughout the history, whoever wins the war gets the land! But Saidina Umar had never stolen the homes of the Christians and gave them to the Muslims. Unlike what the Zionists are doing now… taking the home of the Palestinians  by force and simply giving them to the Jews without any rights. Salahuddin Al-Ayubi did not terrorize the civilians, and did not bomb hospitals and holy buildings. The land of the Palestine could have been shared by all three Abrahamic religions, and before the British Mandate, that was exactly what had taken place. All three major religions had lived in Jerusalem in peace. The Muslims even helped the Jews escaped from the Holocaust in Europe, remember?! Saidina Umar and Salahuddin Al-Ayubi won Palestine by winning the war with honour! Not through cruel trickery, savage land hijacking and barbarous land occupation.”

I should have said, “If you knew history so well, you would be familiar with the Covenant of Umar which was also recognized by the West. It was the assurance of safety by Umar to the non-Muslims after he obtained Jerusalem! And the history of Salahuddin Al-Ayubi with Richard the Lion Heart are stuff of legends that is also recognised by  the West….the history of Salahuddin has been made into numerous Hollywood films… showing that Muslims had dealt with the Jews and Christians with justice, integrity and honour! The issue of Palestine is not the issue of land belonging. It is the issue of justice!”

The Covenant of Umar

The text as reported by al-Tabari:

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. This is the assurance of safety [aman] which the servant of God Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has given to the people of Jerusalem. He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves, for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and healthy of the city and for all the rituals which belong to their religion. Their churches will not be inhabited by Muslims and will not be destroyed. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their cross, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted. No Jew will live with them in Jerusalem.

The people of Jerusalem must pay the taxes (jizya) like the people of other cities and must expel the Byzantines and the robbers. Those of the people of Jerusalem who want to leave with the Byzantines, take their property and abandon their churches and crosses will be safe until the reach their place of refuge. The villagers [ahl al-ard, who had taken refuge in the city at the time of the conquest] may remain in the city if they wish but must pay taxes like the citizens. Those who wish may go with the Byzantines and those who wish may return to their families. Nothing is to be taken from them before their harvest is reaped.

If they pay their taxes according to their obligations, then the conditions laid out in this letter are under the covenant of God, are the responsibility of His Prophet, of the caliphs and of the faithful.

 

I wanted to smack my head. So typical of me to start having so many ideas about what I should have said after the argument was already done and dusted! It is too late for brilliant ideas now, Afiza. You lost! Accept it! Move on!

And I moved on. But this time, I moved on with an action plan.

I studied the history of Palestine. I attended talks about Palestine given by my alim, knowledgeable seniors who were dedicated members of IKRAM/ISMA. Every year they would organize the same talks and the same seminars for the new first year juniors and I never failed to join. (At that time, I did not yet join their usrah groups. I could not commit to it… I was cautious about committing to any particular group. But I always joined their Palestine seminars which was opened to the general non-usrah Muslims. I only started joining usrah when I was in my 4th year of Med school… when most of my friends already joined in when they were only in the first year. It took my seniors 4 years to convince me to participate in their usrah and finally my heart cracked open. Hahah. Yup… I am stubborn and I like to observe and think for myself and come up with my own conclusion before I commit to anything. I was afraid that if I commit to a group, then I cannot be free to think for myself. In psychiatry, this is called group thinking, although at that time I did not yet know what label to give to my hesitation to join them, until I learned about group thinking and group dynamics for my Part A exam last year.  I was afraid that I would lose my identity and my freedom. Silly me, yeah? It turned out that joining them was one of the most enlightening episode of my life.I should have joined sooner. As I mentioned before, this is my problem. I don’t want to listen to others. I need to go through the process and come to the conclusion myself. And as a result, I always end up taking a longer, circuitous route… but I believe, this is also a more satisfying route, because I can say that I do something based on my sincere, heartfelt conviction! I am not just going with the flow, following the herd.)

I was intrigued by my seniors’ enthusiasm regarding the movement for BDS (Boycott, Divestments and Sanction). I stopped drinking Coke or eating McD. I chose Gloria Jeans over Starbucks. (Sadly, when I returned to Malaysia, my resolve is occasionally weakened, I must admit. There are times when I couldn’t say no to Coke. Or Starbucks. But at least, my frequency of buying them were heaps less than it would have been if I did not support the BDS. I still need to work and strengthen the muscle of my will. Sometimes I lost the battle… and I bought myself the Java Chip drink. Oh well.)

During Islamic Awareness Week, I prepared myself by reading on many hot issues (Palestine Issues, The Rights of Muslim Women, Terrorism In Islam, Polygamy, etc etc)  so that I wouldn’t stutter and stumble when I answered the questions of non-Muslims as they gathered at our booth. It was part of my duty as the treasurer of the Newcastle Islamic Society to man the booth with a couple of other Muslim students. We created a timetable that would not clash with our classes and we took turns being in the booth, promoting Islamic awareness. This is something I would never have done if I were studying in Malaysia. It was in Australia that I learned to interact rather than making holier-than-thou religious preach. (I believe, that preaching doesn’t work, especially with people like me. Interaction does! If you want to change, it must come from within, triggered by an interaction you experienced with someone. I was triggered to learn about Palestine because of my interaction with someone who had made me angry….in other words, I changed NOT because someone had preached to me. Something MUST happen inside myself first.)

When I was in my 4th year, one of the seniors asked me whether this time, I would like to be the presenter for one of the Palestinian talk for the juniors. I said yes, I would do it. In my talk, I went through the history of Palestine which I had taken special care to know and understand inside out (after that humiliating encounter when I was in my first year) and in my talk I took particular steps to highlight on how we should tackle the issue of Palestine when we talk to the non-Muslims.

See? There was a reason I lost the argument… so that I would be motivated to learn my stuff properly and pass on the knowledge.

It is true that we learn more through failures than successes.

***

I was  in my 5th year when the Gaza Flotila Raid by Israel occurred in 2010. The Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was a civilian ship bringing aid to the Palestinians, were attacked by the Israel Navy in May 2010. The attack by the Israel Navy was bravely resisted by the civilians on the ship; nine activists died and many were wounded. Some of them on the ship were Malaysians.

I was about to face my final exam at that time, dealing with a lot of stress and pressure. But when I read on the tragedy in BBC news and Al-Jazeera, I realized that nothing about this world was worth feeling stressed about. “Other people in other parts of the world are fighting for their livelihood with courage and honour! And here I am, thinking that my life is so hard just because I have to face an exam! You should be ashamed of yourself, Afiza.” I had berated myself.

 

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And today, after a few days of nursing my anger and resentment towards Trump,to quote Celine Dione, “it’s all coming back to me now”. How when I was a medical student, I had promised that I would not lose my interest in the Palestinian cause. How I had promised that I would do something worthy as a Muslim just like those activists in the Mavi Marmara had done. How I had promised I would try to persist with my boycott.

Well…. I did break those promises. Shamefully, I did. 

I think, my spirit has lost its fiery enthusiasm since I returned to Malaysia. I am back to my pre-Australia selfish self who did not care about things other than myself and my career and my exam. I couldn’t remember the last time I clicked on the website ‘The Electronic Intifada’, which I used to visit every day when I was a medical student. And nowadays, I am not that strict with my boycott anymore.

My God….truthfully, I have lost my idealism after housemanship. I am no longer that wide-eyed, bushy-tailed eager youth so many years ago who had cared about the suffering of other Muslims.

What have happened to me? I wonder, sometimes.

I guess, housemanship happened.

Adulthood and responsibilities happened.

Life happened… we drifted apart.

I lost contact with good people of good hearts. Some of them are still in Australia, continuing to educate new juniors, building foundations for future leaders who, hopefully, would not forget to care.

Maybe Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the new capital of Israel could jump start my idealism and enthusiasm all over again….

Maybe this anger and restlessness would fuel me to stop dreaming, start reading useful materials and stick to reality. (I still remember the soft voice of my senior when she said, “Cubalah Afiza baca buku pengisian juga. Muslim ni berjiwa besar… dan dia kena ambil berat benda-benda yang besar.” Maybe that was why I didn’t want to join usrah in the first place. I knew I was not ready to change. I knew that when I finally joined them, I would feel the pressure to change… but I didn’t want to.)

I know I should read again the history of Palestine that I had forgotten. Read the sirah! Read on jihad and struggle! 

I know I should read real stuff…

So that perhaps, I would start caring again. 

Because The Chronicles of Jerusalem is still ongoing; its journey is long and torturous, fraught with trials and troubles.  But like all other great chronicles of the world, its ending is promised to be  sweet and victorious.

 

 

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National Service

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I have been following the news about the North Korea-Malaysia strained diplomatic relations quite closely these days. Part of me wonder, if we are to go to war (the likelihood of it is quite small for now) how prepared are we to fight?

During war, not only the army are involved, capable men (and women maybe) will also get recruited, right? That’s the basis of many countries making it compulsory for all their citizens of a certain age  to do a stint of national service.

We should all do National Service like the one in Singapore. According to Wikipedia, National Service in Singapore, (commonly known as NS), is a statutory requirement for all male Singaporean citizens and second-generation permanent residents to undergo a period of compulsory service in the uniformed services. Depending on physical and medical fitness, they serve a two-year period as National Servicemen Full-time (NSFs), either in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force (SPF), or the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)

I think, in Turkey, compulsory military service applies to ALL male citizens from twenty to forty-one years of age. Those who are engaged in higher education or vocational training programs prior to their military drafting are allowed to delay service until they have completed the programs or reach a certain age.

PKSN

After SPM (2002) I voluntarily joined PKSN (Program Khidmat Sosial Negara) while awaiting my SPM results. PKSN 02/03 was the last batch of PKSN ever before it was then replaced with PLKN (Program Latihan Khidmat Negara). PKSN was a non-compulsory program in each state in Malaysia and anyone who was interested could simply fill up the registration form and joined the program for free.

So because it was to be the last PKSN ever, we felt like we were a special batch. Hahaha. 😛

I was the only one of SBP/MRSM school who attended the program in the Kedah state. The rest were made up of students sekolah-sekolah biasa (tak jumpa lah budak Asma, budak Bahiyah, budak2 sekolah cluster or sekolah berprestasi tinggi…banyak budak2 dari sekolah daerah terpencil dan sekolah kampung. To them, this was the only activity available to fill up their time while awaiting for their SPM results. Unlike some of us who get to go on holidays overseas, these kids really looked forward to this program because this was about the only highlight of their post-SPM celebration)

The facilitator was surprised when I introduced myself at the start of the program and told them that I was from MRSM Langkawi.

They said “Jarang budak2 sekolah mrsm join program macam ni”

So, I told them “Saya memang minat.” I have always loved adventurous activities ever since I was a small kid. (I was a girlscout since I was in Asma primary school. And then I got involved in Girl Guide when I was in Asma secondary school. But unfortunately Girl Guide in Asma did not organize much outdoor activities to keep my restless soul satisfied and occupied…  so feeling bored to tears, I quitted Girl Guide and joined Police Cadet instead. When I got into MRSM Langkawi, I joined Fire & Rescue Cadet / Kadet Bomba. Until now, I still go on hiking trips at least fortnightly.)

I spent my time in PKSN with camping, hiking, jungle tracking and joining program anak angkat in small villages. With the program anak angkat, we had to live the way the poor people in that kampung live and helped them out with their paddy planting/ street vending / rubber tapping/ fishing etc etc. (But the bapa angkat I was assigned to was a Tok Imam in the village who owned a lot of paddy fields, and quite well off in his own rights. There was nothing much for me to do. So, I ended up not having to help out at all. Hahah. I was the only one in PKSN who did not really have to live poorly like the rest of them. But I actually envied them their experience.)

We did more social service activities than military activities in PKSN. The roughest part of PKSN was only the jungle tracking… and I happened to enjoy those, anyway.

In PKSN, I got to know people whose concerns were not academic performance, but other important things such as patriotism, helping others in need and selflessness. It was quite refreshing, actually. They didn’t talk about books, they didn’t worry about their SPM results. They didn’t talk about their answers to some confusing SPM questions that they had recently sat for. These people were a totally new breed to my usual friends who were academic-oriented.

But they are a gem in their own ways. They were good in practical, survival stuff, you know. They have patience in times of difficulties. They were creative about doing performances to entertain the orang kampung. Their social skills with the elders were crazy good. They were so… at ease….with the orang kampung.  With the orang kampung, they talked of stuff I had not the slightest idea of involving ‘kerja-kerja kampung’ I was not at all familiar with. At that age, I was still an awkward teenager who only wanted to talk about the latest fiction I had read. I didn’t know how to relate to others who didn’t share my interest. I was very self-absorbed. But by observing how they interacted with one another and how they found pleasure in simple things, I learned a thing or two about contentment and finding enjoyment in everyday occurrences.

After one month of fun, community service, and BTN-like talks and programs, it was time to say good bye to all my new friends and acquaintances. I never met them again. I was not even sure whether they continued their tertiary studies. But I think, they were street smart people, anyway. Institutionalised education might be too restricting for people like them.

The year after, they abolished PKSN and started PLKN…. and they made it compulsory for the listed names.

I don’t know how military-based PLKN is.

I heard that only certain types of students were chosen to join. Brilliant students from good schools can always request for exemption.

Maybe brilliant students don’t care enough about anything else other than academic performance.

Not much difference than the cohorts in PKSN, then.

It looks like only students from kampung school will ever be interested to serve the nation.

If Malaysia ever HAVE to go to war, how prepared are we?

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We should make National Service compulsory for ALL students… postpone your studies, and do your national service. If anything is to be learned from the North Korea-Malaysia diplomatic tension recently, it is that we should never be complacent about our country’s sovereignty and peace. At any time in the future, our country’s safety and freedom could be threatened.

Burying our heads in the sand and refusing to wake up and smell the coffee might prove to be one of our greatest mistake as a nation.

Just my humble two cents.

Peace!

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Effort And Sincerity

Once upon a time, me and my sisters were at a small hotel in KL, feeling hungry and needing something savoury to eat. The problem was, we didn’t have any transport and the only options were the food stalls around the area.

We are not picky eaters, exactly. We are not food connoisseurs or anything. We can eat at stalls, mamaks, or gerai tepi jalan, medan selera…. whatever. As long as the place is clean, then we will eat there. 

So me and my sisters walked around the many stalls around the area, trying to choose which stall was the best to eat at. I noticed a bunch of young kids at one of the stalls there had poured some water at the ground surrounding their stall so that the wind would not scatter the dust away into their small stove or bother their customers. They were just a bunch of teenagers but they caught my attention.

“Weh, jom makan sini.” I suggested to Alida

Alida agreed because she too had noticed what I noticed. Then all of us siblings ended up eating there. 

It was a simple effort. But it made all the difference in where we chose to eat.

And when one of the kids took our orders, we could see his polite respect, his effort to make suggestions about what was the best to eat at his small humble stall.

I could see his genuine pride for what he did as a living. He may not be able to do much, but he would do what he could. That was all it took to win our hearts.

***

I think that I am not exactly the most social person in the world, either in the social media or in real life. Social media to me is more as a tool to propagate a certain worldview, a campaign tool to get people to pause and realize how ridiculous society really is (my own paltry version of ‘kritik sosial’ just like in the literature that I read, hahha) or to stay connected with friends.

Mindless socializing is not my forte (even though I could do it, if I have to).

But when I finally do socialize, I make an effort. And I am sincere with the effort I make.

I am not only sincere with what I say when I am being nice, I am also very sincerely earnest in what I say when I am annoyed.  By reading my blog or what I wrote on whatsapp, you can tell whether I am joking, happy, annoyed, about to burst out or downright furious at something. Hahah.

My friend used to tell me “Afiza, you are so good with words. How come you cannot find a prettier way to express yourself when you are annoyed?”

I laughed out loud. Can you see how brilliant my friend is? That was a backhanded compliment at its best. Very diplomatic of her to compliment my literary skill (a sure way of warming my heart, making me more receptive to her suggestions or criticism) and in the next breath telling me in no uncertain terms that the way I express myself when I am annoyed have a lot of rooms for improvement. (She is a master at diplomacy without making it fake! And that’s rare!)

I don’t socialize much, but when I finally do, I try my damnedest hard to be genuine. The point is, you know that you are interacting with Afiza, as how she really feels and how she really thinks. If I am annoyed, you know it. If I am amused, you know it. There is no misunderstanding.

True, I could have found better ways to express myself when I am annoyed. I just don’t want to. It’s not that I can’t be diplomatic. I just don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t have the skill to butter up to my superiors and be nice to authorities. I just don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t have the mental capacity and the language skill to couch my words in a manner that is more pleasant while delivering my message, but I just don’t want to.

I. DON’T. WANT. TO.

Not because I can’t. But because I won’t.

If I had wanted to, I would have done it! Make me want! Or make me feel like it is VERY IMPORTANT in this particular context for me to be diplomatic, then I will do it.  I do it with my patients, for example. Counselling, Motivational interviewing…. it’s all about giving a certain message in a manner that the patient can see, understand and accept. Another way of looking at it is explained by Wilfred Bion in his Containment theory. We do it all the time during therapy.

Bion’s theory (1959, 1962) explains how a mother receives unwanted and/oroverwhelming projections from an infant, processes them and then returns the experience to the infant in a modified, palatable form. This process also occurs in therapy with the therapist acting as a ‘container’, taking in thoughts/feelings from the client and re-representing them so they are both more understandable and less potentially destructive.

When I am doing therapy, I am working. My working persona, as Jung would term it! Not my real personality.

But when I am not working, I have no reason to contain anything. Hahah.  You will get me all raw and unprocessed. My own version of being a straight talker (because I think normal people should be able to take the truth without me having to dress it up the way I did with my clients and patients. If I have genuine respect of your intellect, I would be straight and honest with you. The moment I think your intellect cannot handle it, then I will try to be more diplomatic. So when I am being honest and blunt, take it as a compliment! Hahah. It means that I think your intellect can pass muster. Being blunt is also my own way of weeding out who I can be friends with and who I should only bother to communicate when there is a need for me to do so. As a result, I surround myself only with people of similar wavelength as me. Real, genuine people who would not act like they are in a drama all the time. Hahha)

Putting a lot of emphasis on being real and genuine, I was quite affronted by people who simply copy-paste messages of birthdays, Hari Raya wishes, CNY wishes, congratulations or condolences in whatsapp groups!

Gila malas!!

For example, when someone’s mother pass away, the first person giving the condolence message in the whatsapp group is the only one who actually puts a sincere effort to write his message properly. The rest of the whatsapp group members then simply copy-paste the first message ad nauseam, ad infinitum. It feels like you are reading repetitive spam messages instead of a genuine expression of sympathy and empathy towards your friend who has just lost her mother.

How can the society be so insensitive and so lazy!

Orang cakap aku tak diplomatik! Tapi sekurang-kurangnya, when I do socialize and communicate, I am sincere about it and I actually make an effort.

Instead of copy-pasting the same thing, I wrote a different message of condolence into the whatsapp group! It was my way of saying that I actually thought of her while she was dealing with the lost of her mother, that I had bothered to compose something out of my own heart and mind.

A minute later, the rest of the other members (who had not yet said their condolences before) copy-pasted MY message and turning it into another set of spam!

Adoiii!!  *tepuk dahi* (By the way, when did I give anyone the permission to plagiarize my message? Haha.)

What the hell hangpa semua ni! Pemalas nak mampus!

To be honest, aku pernah jer tak wish birthday and tak ucap takziah in whatsapp groups. Maybe because I am not particularly close with that person and therefore my wish (or lack of) would not really mean anything to them one way or another. 

But when I do finally write something, I compose my own! 

Maybe it is the writer in me that makes me so fastidious and fussy about showing some effort when you are making your greetings and wishes. Maybe this is just my personal pet peeve because I am so used to communicate my thoughts in writing, so that I become quite particular about the lack of genuine effort and warmth in what is supposed to be a sincere, personal wish of condolences by your so-called friends and colleagues.

But heck, this is not supposed to be my own pet peeve. Anyone with common decency should have thought about this too.

When I scrolled back the messages in the Whatsapp Group, I took note of people who actually bothered to compose a different message or insert their own personal message in the Whatsapp Group. And my INTP mind started analyzing the pattern (as it tends to do all the time. INTPs like patterns) People who I noticed had written different messages are either people of genuine kindness and warmth to everyone (one of my female specialist is like that), or people who are actually really close with the person suffering the lost (even though in other occasions, they too are copy-pasters).

So my mind came up with these conclusions/patterns: 

1)If you are genuinely saddened by someone’s lost because you are close to this person, then you would show an effort to express your feelings properly because you honestly feel sorry for them in view of your friendship. And because of your close friendship with this person, you feel compelled to personalize the message because you WANT this person to know that you SINCERELY share her sadness. Generic copy of condolence won’t do justice (in the context of your close relationship with this person.)

2)And if you are someone with common sense and common decency even though you yourself are not personally close with the person suffering the lost, you would also bother to compose your message properly. (this is because being a nice person is who you are and you would extend the same kind of thoughtful personalized message to everyone suffering such a great loss, regardless of the intimacy of your relationship with them. One of my specialists is like that. She is genuinely kind-hearted and nice.)

3) The rest are just actors and players (or perhaps robots that have been programmed to repeat or plagiarize) pretending to do what the society expects without having to really think about it or making any real mental effort. (And these are the ones that annoy me. At that specific  time, I don’t respect them or their sentiment).

I do personalize my messages and wishes. But it’s not because I am a nice person all the time. It’s because I am so rarely nice that when I am FINALLY being nice, I will make a real genuine effort. Or else I wouldn’t even bother.

254121

***

Please don’t bother to wish me anything (birthdays/ condolences/ congratulations) if you are just going to seem like you are suffering from echolalia. The writer in me do not feel anything (no joy, no gratitude, no respect, no real warmth) with such messages. I wouldn’t even remember the people who copy-paste the same darn wish over and over again like uninspired spammers with nothing better to do. If I am ever tested with the loss of my beloved mother, I don’t want anyone to display such a lackadaisical attitude with the way they express their condolences to me. (I might not even announce the matter in Whatsapp group and just personally call my boss to inform the matter privately and quietly in order to avoid reading copy-pasted messages and having to pretend that I feel thankful??! about what you so effortlessly and thoughtlessly plagiarize. Gosh!) The loss is devastating to me! And you are just copy-pasting like you don’t really care? How dare you! (I understand you may not mean it that way. Maybe you do genuinely think of my mother when you are copy-pasting that message, but how would I know that… when your effort is so paltry?!)

To rub salt to the wound, you are annoying me by spamming the group.

I appreciate genuine effort! That’s all! It can be small, it doesn’t need to contain bombastic words ala Shakespeare or Chaucer, but it can be genuine and real. At least!

Even if it contains grammatical errors/misspelled words… I would appreciate it a thousand times more than a thoughtless copied message.

I leave you today with the facebook status of someone whose idea and intellect I actually respect who had said the same thing I am trying to say. Maybe his facebook status could convey better what I really think when I write this post. He wrote about the unfortunate rampant spamming that has become the ridiculous trend in our society during festive season. I agree wholheartedly with what Tai Zee Kin in his facebook status had said. And below, I copied his very thought provoking facebook status into my blog post.

I think, this facebook status deserves a standing ovation.

Until next time, my dear readers.

screenshot-2017-02-09-08-54-29

screenshot-2017-02-09-08-54-44

HOTS or LOTS (KBAT or KBAR)

To those who have no idea what KBAT is, allow me to take full advantage of this opportunity to enlighten you that KBAT is an acronym for the phrase Kemahiran Berfikir Aras Tinggi (In English: HOTS/ Higher Order Thinking Skills).

It was the latest concept introduced by the Ministry of Education for Malaysian Students in a similar manner they have introduced other curriculum in the past such as KBSR/KBSM/KBKK. (During my time it was KBKK a.k.a Kemahiran Berfikir Secara Kreatif dan Kritis). HOTS is now the trend in Malaysian education. It is fashionable, at the moment (until the next education minister changes the whole curriculum all over again, haha). HOTS is the HOT stuff in the education industry now! Trendy! Au courant!

blogimage_bloomstaxonomy
HOTS, in a nutshell!

Higher-order thinking involves the learning of complex judgmental skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. (Judgment, folks!! The usage of your God given brain to make inferences and deductions and conclusions to come to a SENSIBLE decision based on what you have learned!)

Higher-order thinking is more difficult to learn or teach but also more valuable because such skills are more likely to be usable in novel situations.

But ah… forgive me, my dear esteemed readers.

I don’t mean to give a lecture on what HOTS is about. But the introduction above is necessary to put this post in its proper context.

I declare to all and sundry, that the entire purpose of this post is to unequivocally state in the boldest possible manner that Malaysians are NOT ready for HOTS because they don’t even pass LOTS, most of the time!  (In case  you are wondering, LOTS stands for Lower Order Thinking Skills.)

***

And what do I mean by that?

Well, this!

Jika diamati sebaik-baiknya. elakkan dari mencuci pakaian di tempat mencuci automatic public. kerana mesin tersebut digunakan oleh orang bukan Islam, kerana mereka ini tiada kebersihan. seluar dalam yang terkena darah haid. lebih maklum lagi semua tahu yang ada yang tidak membasuh punggung dan kemaluan selepas membuang air besar dan kecil. Pakaian yang dipakai dikesat pula mulut dan tangannya selepas memegang daging khinzir dan ada pula tuala yang digunakan mengelap kaki dan mengelap najis anjing mereka campurkan ke dalam mesin basuh. Itu belum tahu lagi adakah pakaian mereka ni yang terkena darah yang boleh membawa kepada jangkitan merbahaya seperti HIV  atau sakit kulit yang kritikal yang boleh berjangkit. Entah lah. Adakah pernah kita terfikir akan hal tersebut.

Selamat pg dan basuhlah pakaian sendiri di rumah, terjamin kebersihannya.

🙂 🙂 🙂

(Let me make it clear that I copied that statement word for word (including the triple smileys at the end) and any mistake in Malay grammar and sentence structure has nothing whatsoever to do with me) 

Upon reading that piece of asinine statement in one of my numerous whatsapp groups, I was struck by the compelling urge to leave that group for good. I have been patient all these time! But I just cannot stand this anymore! This is not the first time they posted something so moronic, it should earn a place in Guinness Book of Record as the World’s Most Asinine Whatsapp Group Text.

Every time I came across something THIS painful, I get disillusioned by the poor level of HOTS in our community. I rather just not know the truth. I want to keep imagining all the best things about the level of intellect in the muslim community, that I want to exit that whatsapp group! It is a testimony of the power of my self-control that I had limited my reaction to a few short responses. If I had given in to my inner (manic) diva, I could launch a long tirade about the  unfortunate lack of critical thinking in our Malaysian muslim community (which would hurt a lot of feelings. And that was the only reason I made myself stop. I nearly lost the battle against my inner diva, I tell you!) 

But because I was too fiery inside, I needed to vent out! So, I copied the whole stupid message and posted it in my Newcastle Batchmates Whatsapp Group. We had a great laugh out of it.

“Orang Islam tempat lain sibuk isu-isu besar. Isu Syria. Isu Palestin. Isu ummah. Orang kat Malaysia tak pass benda basic yang kita dah lama faham. What is wrong with them?”

***

Someone with HOTS would have the ability to make simple deductions and inferences. This is something that is introduced at the level of UPSR, and by rights, any adult should have mastered the art.

How can mature Muslim men and women be so insensible as to come up with something like this?

The person who posted this message in my Whatsapp group was only asking whether this message was valid. He did not straightaway take the message as the truth. So I did not, in any way or form, think that he doesn’t have HOTS. Maybe he simply posted this message BECAUSE he found it as stupid as I did and was only asking for clarification. So, I am NOT blaming him. In fact, I applaud his initiative to ask about the validity of the statement in the Whatsappp group. I think there is hope in the community when someone like him ACTUALLY questioned the statement rather than just posting the statement in a form of ‘sharing is caring’. Hahah. It is very heart-warming, to say in the least.

But the fact that he had obtained that message from SOMEWHERE before he posted it in my whatsapp group means that someone HAD come up with the statement in the first place. (That’s the problem, you see! That message must have been viralled somewhere in other groups until it made its way into mine; hurting my eyes, aching my brain and piercing my heart with it. And I bleed…and bleed…a slow, painful, torturous death. 😛 Hahha. My point is: if it has gotten viralled from whatsapp group to whatsapp group, that means a substantial amount of people kind of believe it, right? Doesn’t it alarm you, my dear readers? HOTS lah sangat orang-orang Malaysia ni, kan? Pfft!)

*Deep breath in*

***

How do I apply HOTS in this matter?

Remember! HOTS is all about application of knowledge and creating a new point of view from what you have learned. To put it in religious term, HOTS is like dalil akli (sebab setengah orang yang budget dia ni konon alim sangat, suka menggunakan tema dan warna agama untuk menampakkan hujahnya konon religious. So kalau aku sebut HOTS, tak cukup religious lah kan! So aku sebut dalil akli! ).

I am not saying that dalil akli is enough! No! But if you have HOTS, that is your FIRST filter that would trigger you to search for dalil nakli. When something ‘konon religious’ disturb your ‘akli’, you wouldn’t swallow everything hook, line and sinker. Instead, if you have well-honed HOTS and reasoning skill, hearing something like this would trigger you to search for the dalil nakli to clear your doubts! 99% of the time, dalil nakli and dalil akli are always in parallel! In the 1% of the time when dalil akli and dalil nakli seem contradictory, either your religious authority has misrepresented the issue or there is some other context to your dalil nakli that you don’t know about. So, search further! Don’t stop! Jangan malas berfikir! As a result of having HOTS as your first filter, you would not be someone who can be easily tricked into believing something weird in the name of religion.

If you do not have HOTS, everything that sounds religious…you would accept it unquestionably. And that would not just be unfortunate, but downright tragic!

So let’s talk about this. Let’s break down the above moronic text; sentence by sentence:

 “Tidak boleh menggunakan tempat mencuci automatic public kerana mereka ini tiada kebersihan seluar dalam yang terkena darah haid” 

  • Jadi bagaimana pula dengan darah haid perempuan Muslim? Adakah penulis statement ini rasa perempuan Muslim semuanya tak ada darah haid terkena di seluar dalam mereka?  Beliau boleh terima tak kalau perempuan muslim yang guna tempat mencuci public ni? Ke darah haid perempuan Muslim lebih bersih daripada darah haid perempuan bukan Muslim? Ke beliau nak cakap perempuan bukan muslim saja yang darah haid mereka boleh terkena seluar dalam… seolah-olah perempuan muslim pula darah haid mereka sentiasa elok terletak di sanitary pad tanpa pernah ‘terbocor’ barang sekali pun! Ke macam mana reasoning dia ni…too weird sampai aku tak boleh nak cerna! Newsflash! When you have heavy menstruation flow, your menstruation blood can spill into your panties, and it has nothing to do with your race or religion. (Benda ni saja dah sangat tidak cerdik! The very first sentence dah tersangat kelakar. You can use your common sense untuk bantai bendalah ni. Jadi, aku rasa stress bila ada lagi orang dalam Whatsapp group dok cakap “kena tunggu ijtihad dulu” baru boleh bagi opinion. WHAATTT?  It’s like guru sekolah rendah berkata kepada muridnya “kita kena tunggu sasterawan negara dulu untuk mengajar  kita macam mana nak mengeja.” hahah. Adoi!! Tak tahan!)

“Lebih maklum lagi semua tahu yang ada yang tidak membasuh punggung dan kemaluan selepas membuang air besar dan kecil.” 

  • Benda ni kita dah belajar sejak sekolah menengah lagi. Pernah dengar tak konsep ‘istinjak’? Kita beristinjak menggunakan batu dan bahan-bahan kesat. Ingat tak? Ni konsep bersuci yang asas. Orang Islam memang dah biasa menggunakan air dan kita memang tidak akan puas hati kalau tak guna air. Tapi istinjak juga adalah  salah satu cara bersuci! Dan sah wudhu dan sembahyang kau walaupun sewaktu berhadas tadi, kau hanya beristinjak menggunakan tisu. Okey? Are we clear? Kalau benda macam ni pun penulis statement itu keliru, beliau masih kena pi belajar balik bab istinjak Form 1!  This is not even HOTS. This is only LOTS! Ini hanya remembering dan recall…..tak sampai pun level knowledge application!(Ke yang ni pun aku tak boleh bagi opinion, nak kena tunggu ijtihad juga? Ulama dah tolong bahas benda ni dah lama, siap dengan dalil-dalil semuanya. Kita mungkin tiada kelayakan berijtihad, tetapi kita boleh belajar dengan orang yang sudah berijtihad! Tapi sebenarnya kan…istinjak ni bukan pasal ijtihad! Yang ni dah JELAS pun. Okay?) Jadi dengan pemikiran bagaimanakah penulis statement ini merasakan yang beliau begitu suci sehingga cara istinjak yang diiktraf dalam agama pun beliau nak persoalkan, sampai menghina orang bukan Islam sebegitu sekali dan tidak mahu bercampur public facilities dengan mereka? Dengan pemikiran jumud seperti beliau ini, megahkah beliau yang konon kedengaran lebih Islamik dari orang lain?! (Bayangkan kalau non-muslims baca penulisan beliau ini? Come on, lah!)
  • Dan ingat balik konsep najis. Semua najis yang BUKAN najis mughallazah (bukan anjing atau babi; sekadar najis mukhafaffah dan mutawassitah), bersuci menggunakan air dan sabun sudah cukup menyucikan. Jadi, kita guna saja public automatic washer pun, tiada masalah! Bukan nak kena samak pun tempat basuh tu! Kalau adalah terlekat tahi siapa-siapa pun kat tempat basuh tu (tak kira tahi orang Muslim atau bukan Muslim), membasuh hingga hilang bau, warna dan rasa sudah cukup suci. Penulis statement ini yang terlebih risau sorang-sorang, lepas tu beliau dok budget beliau lebih ‘menghalusi’ bab taharah daripada orang lain! Aduh!! (Sakit tu di sini; di dalam hati ku. Hahah)

Itu belum tahu lagi adakah pakaian mereka ni yang terkena darah yang boleh membawa kepada jangkitan merbahaya seperti HIV  atau sakit kulit yang kritikal yang boleh berjangkit.

  • Agaknya, dengan reasoning yang macam ni, kita boleh buat inferens yang HIV akan menular dengan cepat menjadi pandemic. Tak payah tunggu berkongsi jarum dan seks bebas! Menggunakan kedai dobi sahaja sudah cukup sebagai medium berjangkitnya HIV dikalangan manusia. Wow! Inilah kita katakan pemikiran kreatif dan kritis di kalangan orang Muslim kita. Amazing! Suatu hari nanti, bila kita bertanya kepada pesakit HIV akan sejarah mereka mendapat HIV, kita seharusnya tidaklah terkejut jika mereka berkata “Saya mendapat HIV kerana saya menggunakan kedai dobi untuk  membasuh baju. Mungkin ada darah HIV non-Muslim terkena di baju saya”. (By the way, penulis statement ini menyatakan sesuatu yang sangat berbaur perkauman. Racism is not endorsed in Islam. Statement beliau seolah-olah menyatakan yang darah HIV ada kat non-muslims saja. Sedangkan Malay Muslims pun banyak HIV. Malah, kebanyakan kes HIV yang aku pernah  tengok adalah dari kalangan Muslim.)
  • Opps….aku lupa. Aku ini hanya psychiatry MO. Aku kena tunggu, ehem, ‘ijtihad’ Infectious Disease doctor untuk bagi pendapat tentang hal ni.

Entah lah. Adakah pernah kita terfikir akan hal tersebut.

  • Hmm…sungguh aku memang tak pernah terfikir sebelum ini. Penulis statement ini memang terbaik arrr! Terbaik!! HOTS yang out of this world! Beliau memang orang Muslim yang hebat dan sensitif dengan isu agama. Beliau…ah, beliau begitu hebat! Enough said! 🙂 🙂 🙂

***

Just in case you think that I am putting more emphasis on HOTS (sorry, I meant to say dalil akli, so that I will sound religious, kan?) rather than dalil nakli, here’s a video to explain away all these nonsense using dalil nakli. In  this video, Dr. MAZA explained very well regarding the stupidity of those who over think stuff.

During the time of our beloved prophet, even dogs went in and out of the mosque!

Al-Bukhaari narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I used to stay overnight in the mosque at the time of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) when I was young and single, and dogs used to urinate and come and go in the mosque, and they did not sprinkle water over any of that.

And if we just move into a house whose previous owner is a non-Muslim who might or might not own a dog, should we then ‘sertu’ the house? I sought for the answer down below.

Pertama:

Adakah seluruh badan anjing itu termasuk bulunya adalah najis (mazhab syafie)? Ataupun seluruh badan anjing itu hatta airliurnya adalah suci (mazhab Maliki)? ataupun seluruh tubuhnya najis kecuali airliur (mazhab hanafi dan hanbali)?

Pendapat yg paling kuat dan dipilih oleh syeikhul Islam Ibn Taimiyyah: Anjing tidak najis melainkan airliurnya sahaja.

Majmuk Fatawa Ibn Taimiyyah 21/106

KEDUA:

Kaedah dalam syarak ialah: Setiap tempat di atas muka bumi ini dihukumkan dengan suci melainkan ada dalil yg zahir menunjukkan ia pernah terkena najis.

Kata syeikhul Islam Ibn Taimiyyah: Tidak digalakkan mencari2 najis yang tidka zahir kepada kita. Dan tidak digalakkan berjaga-jaga daripada sesuatu yang tidak ada petunjuk yg zahir berkenaan kenajisannya, hanya disebabkan KEMUNGKINAN ia bernajis.

Kemudian, beliau membawa cerita Umar al-Khattab dan seorang sahabatnya melalui satu tempat, lalu ada air jatuh melalui dari sebuah rumah menimpa sahabatnya. Sahabatnya pun melaung: “Hai tuan punya corong air ini!! Air kamu ini suci atau bernajis?”

Lalu Umar al-Khattab pula melaung: “Hai tuan punya corong air!! Jangan bagitahu pada dia. Ini bukan tanggungjawab dia”.

Majmuk Fatawa Ibn Taimiyyah 21/113.

KETIGA:

Jika anda memilih pendapat yg mengatakan seluruh badan anjing itu najis (kami tidak menggalakkan memilih pendapat ini kerana, dalilnya lemah dan memberatkan), maka ia hanya bernajis apabila berlaku sentuhan antara anjing dan tempat itu apabila salah satu itu BASAH.

Apabila sentuhan itu berlaku dalam keadaan kering, maka tidak perlu dibasuh dengan tanah.

KEEMPAT:

Sesuatu tempat yg bernajis apabila telah kering dan tidak meninggalkan kesan najis samda rasa, bau dan warna, maka ia dihukumkan sebagai SUCI.

Kerana itu ada hadis menyebut:

“Dahulu, anjing-anjing kencing, masuk dan keluar masjid pada zaman Rasulullah SAW, dan mereka tidak menyimbah sesuatupun ke atasnya”.

HR Bukhari 1/75 (dengan sighah takliq).

Abu Daud berdalilkan hadis ini mengatakan: “Tanah apabila telah kering ia menjadi suci”.

All those dalils above I had sought wayyyy before I went to Australia for medical studies. In fact, before Malaysian students go to overseas they are usually given a talk by many ustazs about practical stuff like these (especially on minority fiqh/fiqh al-aqalliyyat. Go on and google on minority fiqh if you never heard of it). During my time, KMB had invited Ustaz Hasrizal to talk about minority fiqh with us so that we won’t go around over-burdening ourselves unnecessarily.

But you would not be triggered to search for dalils and textual evidence if your MIND is not inquisitive in nature.

I am an ordinary Muslim. As ordinary Muslims who do not have the level of knowledge like the ulama, we NEED higher order thinking to trigger our minds to search for the truth. We need it as our FIRST FILTER, because we don’t have religious facts on top of our head like Dr. MAZA.

If every time you hear something religious-sounding and then you spread it across all whatsapp groups that you have, not using your brain at all, then would you be triggered to search for the proper dalil? You won’t! You would simply short-cut your thinking process: “sounds religious, so it must be religious. So let’s share it because sharing is caring” (Pffft!). Your first filter (your brain!) becomes non-functioning! You simply operate at the level of spinal reflex.

Even Nabi Ibrahim a.s used his brain before he was finally given his revelation. He looked at the moon and the stars and the sun, and ask himself whether any of these is The Creator? And then using the process of falsification, he discarded the option one by one based on his reasoning!

The first checkpoint is always your brain in ANYTHING. Our brains help us in digesting the textual evidence given by the Quran and the Sunnah too. Your brain must be sound!

***

Let’s get back  to our own problem at hand. Let’s employ our power of observation the way Nabi Ibrahim had. Let’s observe how people can simply pray on the street, at the park (jangan kata darah haid, entah berapa banyak anjing dok lalu kat situ!).  Look at yourself! Do you bring your own serviette when you go to a restaurant with which to wipe your own mouth when you travel overseas? Many non-Muslims stay in hotels…if you really wanted to ‘menghalusi semuanya’, who knows whether the hotel had mixed all the laundries between serviette used by pork-eating non-Muslims  and the bedsheets and towels used in the hotel. Do Muslims go around bringing their own towel or their own bedsheets when they stay in any hotels while on a holiday?! If you had used HOTS, you can already make inferences that ‘setakat guna tempat basuh baju yang sama di kedai dobi, apa bezanya dengan dobi di hotel-hotel yang kita dok duduk selama ni?’

Logik lah weh! Penat lah baca isu-isu macam ni! Lepas tu bila orang dah tolong explain, mai pula jawapan “oh…kita tidak layak ijtihad”.

Bukan nak suruh sesiapa ijtihad pun. Manalah ada orang dalam Whatsapp group aku yang cukup kelayakan untuk buat ijtihad. Hahah. Tapi… kita boleh cari jawapan daripada orang yang dah pun berijtihad. Memang itulah yang kita buat selama ni pun dalam semua masalah-masalah agama. Ini bukan benda baru.  Kalau kita tak layak nak ijtihad, takkan tak payah cari jawapan? Carilah jawapan dan bagilah jawapan itu pada yang bertanya. Tak ada siapa nak suruh sesiapa di sini berijtihad pun!

One day, I might end up committing a grave error in diplomacy by simply leaving the Whatsapp group. Part of me just couldn’t take this anymore. I have mentioned before that ‘being nice’ is a form of struggle for me. And faced with enough provocation in the form of religious misconception (disguised like a ‘good advice sharing’ / ‘sharing is caring’/ ‘sebuah perkongsian bermanfaat’ etc etc), I might not be able to stick to being nice. LOL. Faced with repeated religious misconception being shared like this, I might one day just launch a non-stop tirade in the group and end up hurting the feelings of others. You see, I have a history with pseudo-religious people like this (which I never fully disclose and only talk about in limited form here and there in this blog, as you may have noticed.) My transference in this particular matter is huge! And I might not be able to handle it. (This is me being realistic. With my own set of friends, including my uni batchmates, my traveller friends, and a few of my best friends… they know me in all my glorious anger and they share my enthusiasm in discussing these kind of things. With them, I have no need to curb my tongue and we freely discuss anything back and forth sambil tampar-tampar meja with no hard feelings. Hahha. But with others outside my close-knit circle, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. Just too much drama.) 

So Ya Allah, give me strength.

I am staying out of trouble and keeping my mouth shut from now on. I am withdrawing myself from socializing with people who do not have similar wavelength as me. I am just going to silence that Whatsapp group for a year. I have too much Whatsapp Group, anyway. Unnecessary and overloaded conversations bombard me every day, it’s become intrusive and overwhelming. I have silenced a few Whatsapp Groups already. This will only be one of many that I have silenced and ignored. When I am not working and not on-call, I silence the department whatsapp group too. I am just not a big fan of whatsapp/we chat/ telegram and unnecessary sharing of information involved in those mediums. (I only have Whatsapp, and already I feel the pain. Hahah. I am just not a social butterfly, I guess).

I prefer books over people. Books and I, we are deeply involved and communicate on a higher plane. We understand each other. 😉

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….Or my writing!

Hahaha.

Until next time, my dear readers.

A Rose By Any Other Name…

I couldn’t bear it.

Intelligent Malays are in hiding. Meanwhile, those intelligent Malays who came out of the closet are being treated like they are weirdos. But if the majority are stupid people, then the intelligent minority would be perceived as weird by the stupid majority. That’s a no brainer. Poor Wardina, Ustaz MAZA….they are always being looked at as different in Malaysia because they are the ones who actually dare to come out of the closet! Nowadays, proclaiming your intelligence by going against JAKIM take courage! Because you would be instantly perceived as anti-religion instead of anti-stupidity that has no basis in Islam.

I tried to stop myself. I tried (very hard) not to write about this because I have written about this so many times, I have lost count. But I couldn’t stop myself. These are issues that fire up my soul. I am passionate about truth. About justice. About fairness. About social equality. About things having to follow universal ethics.

What is wrong with religious authority in Malaysia? Why are they SO STUPID!!  (There! I have said it! Damn it!)  And this is where people would start saying I am arrogant. (And I am not!)

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This came out in the International magazine, TIME! How is this not embarrassing! It looks as though Muslims are so anal retentive (or so stupid) that we can get easily confused  when we call our sausages as hot dogs! This came out in TIME, BBC , Channel News Asia and God knows how many others!

I don’t think I am arrogant towards the poor, the needy or even towards my subordinates (HOs, nurses, clerks). I am usually perceived (perception is not necessarily the truth) as arrogant by authorities (teachers, seniors, some MOs and specialists when I was a HO). I don’t need to turn up my nose towards those below me because they are not the ones who would impose their authorities and their opinions on me. To THEM, I have no reason to be arrogant to because I am not subject to their unreasonable whims and desires!

It is with the authorities that I usually have problems with (and this runs in the family; from my father, to myself and my sisters. We are all very stubborn people when we believe we are right. We are stubborn even with each other. Hahah. It is one of the reasons my father quitted the government and went into business.)

Whenever I have problems with the authorities,  it is always either because I think they have faulty opinions, inefficient way of doing things or simply wrong in what they say and how they conduct themselves! And they are the ones who would have problems with me. I almost never have any problems with my subordinates… it is the authorities I really cannot stand! It must be in my genetic make up or something. Hahah.

***

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Shakespeare had famously written ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ in his Romeo and Juliet play. It means, outward appearance and outward persona do not matter. We should prize substance over form.

Shakespeare is brilliant. (Some had even speculated  that his real name was Sheikh Zubair, possibly a Muslim. But that is a speculation and a debate for another day. But taking my lesson from the great man, I say “Shakespeare by any other name would still be as brilliant.” Haha)

A hot dog by any other name would not be any more halal than it already is. If the process of making the hot dog is halal, then the hot dog is halal. If it is made from haram meat and through a non-halal process, then calling it as a sausage instead of a hot dog would not make it less haram or more halal.

Learn from Shakespeare!  Substance over form! Character over persona! This is very simple!! Such a simple concept that if I were to teach it to primary school kids, they would get it! You would think someone in JAKIM would be more intelligent than primary school kids, won’t you?

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This is the reason I love Dr. MAZA. Intelligent, sharp, on point!

I think brilliant students should be sent to learn the religion. We shouldn’t let only less brilliant students take up religious studies. Not all brilliant people should take medicine, engineering and accountancy. We need brilliant people in the religion as well! (But the fact is, most of my naughty primary school friends were sent to Sekolah Agama Secondary School by their parents in the hope that they would turn out well. And all the good-mannered brilliant kids continue their studies in Asma/SBP/MRSM during my time. And the trend continues. The straight As students get to be doctors, engineers, architects. The straight Bs, some Cs students can only further their studies in social sciences…. including the religious line. Some drug addicts were sent to Sekolah Pondok…. in the hope that they will be religious. So why are we so surprised if they end up becoming ustaz who spewed up nonsensical stuff like this? Well! I am not saying that all of Sekolah Agama students are not brilliant. But when they ARE brilliant, they continue their studies in medicine or law or engineering… instead of Syariah, Pengajian Sunnah etc etc) 

Dr. MAZA was a best student in his schooling days! And it is reflected in how he comes up with his opinion in most issues. He was educated in Jordan… but also studied in Oxford afterwards. He pursued his religious studies to the level of doctorate! His mind is broadened by knowledge and travel! He is the religious figure who rational, logical Muslims would gravitate to because his explanation makes sense and is appealing to our fitrah that NEED things to make sense, to be fair, to be just. Ustaz Harizal was also a best student and he is also brilliant. But they both are the minorities among Malaysian Religious Authorities, unfortunately.

I also, personally like Wardina. She had addressed this issue in one of her facebook statuses. I can feel the wave of frustration engulfing every cell of her body, coming from every syllable of her writings. Because  I feel the same way. I am tired of feeling frustrated! Exhausted! If I am still in Australia right now (where Wardina currently resides), I wouldn’t know how to show my face in the lecture hall. This is embarassing….our tiny minds made us a laughingstock overseas.

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And then we lament the fact that Muslims are not respected! Well, look at ourselves! If I, a proud Muslim, can’t respect JAKIM who claims to represent the interest of Muslims in this country, then what makes you think that non-Muslims would ever respect us?

Our own so-called religious representative is laughable, for God’s sake!

And when a professor herself cannot see the truth, even I give up! Below are the words of a Professor Madya! I give up! (well, not really. The fact that I am still ranting about this means that I am not giving up! Hahaha)

Puan Wardina Safiyyah seharusnya memahami JAKIM sebagai badan yang diamanahkan untuk menguruskan pensijilan halal makanan mempunyai peraturan dan “standard operating procedure” yang telah lama ada. Sudah banyak syarikat makanan yang “comply” dengan peraturan JAKIM tanpa kita sedari eg A&W Coney Chicken yang berasal dari Coney Dog. Tidak boleh lah mereka bersifat “inconsistent” dalam peraturan mereka. Tambahan pula budaya Malaysia berbilang kaum, sudah tentu kita terdedah kepada banyak jenis makanan dari kaum lain yang mungkin ada nama resepi mereka berasal dari bahan yang dilarang oleh agama.Tidak wajar juga kita sebagai pengguna mula mempertikaikan peraturan institusi agama di negara kita hanya kerana “malu” pada publisiti media asing, yang jarang benar memihak kepada kita, dan membuat tajuk yang menyimpang dari isu asal. Kebenaran agama itu tidak terletak kepada “endorsement” pihak media asing. Sebagai seorang Muslim, seorang rakyat Malaysia kitalah yang wajar menerangkan pada pihak lain tentang peraturan di negara kita dengan sebaik-baiknya.

As a psychiatry MO, when I read her words, I already know one thing : She doesn’t get past the stage of Conventional Morality. Lawrence Kohlberg was right. Only 10-15% of people ever get to the stage of Post-Conventional morality. Not even a professor is guaranteed to ever have the sort of mind to be able to reach this stage.

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Her words  such as “Tidak bolehlah mereka bersifat inconsistent dalam peraturan mereka” (what if the peraturan is wrong, in the first place?). Words like “Tidak wajar juga kita sebagai pengguna mula mempertikaikan peraturan institusi agama di negara kita” (what if the institution did not create a good rule and a good SOP in the first place? Your SOP is NOT Allah’s words. They are not sacred and they are changeable! But of course, someone who never gets to the stage of Post-Conventional Morality will never understand that!)

And then she TOTALLY missed the point by implying that the only reason Wardina is opposed to Jakim’s latest buffoonery is because she is embarrassed by the International coverage of our stupidity!  Madam, we are not embarrassed to defend Islam against feminists who frowned upon our hijab. We are not embarrassed to defend out religion against extreme right-wing politicians who accuse Islam as the religion for terrorists. We are not embarrassed to defend Islam in issues like polygamy, inheritance, syariah and jurisprudence. During  Islamic Awareness Week in Australia, I stood up inside our booth to talk to Australians about Islam… and it was proudly done. I did not need nor want the approval of the West. And I believe, so did Wardina.

The reason we are embarrassed is NOT because  we want to kiss the ass of the Western media! No! We are embarrassed because Jakim who claimed to represent Islam in this country is wrong and foolish in their statements and conduct, which have no basis in Islam! It reflects badly on Islam! That’s why we are embarrassed!

You totally missed  the point! You assumed (wrongly!) about what Wardina meant by being embarrassed (as though Wardina was embarrassed about Islamic values; when in actual fact, you failed to discriminate between Jakim’s foolish SOP and actual Islamic practice. Wardina is embarrassed about JAKIM. Not about Islam! Takkan tu pun tak faham!), and then you dare to ‘advise’ (macam baik) that ‘kebenaran agama itu tidak terletak kepada ‘endorsement’ pihak media asing. Sebagai seorang Muslim, seorang rakyat Malaysia, kitalah yang wajar menerangkan pada pihak lain tentang peraturan di negara kita dengan sebaik-baiknya’  (ayat umum yang benar, diaplikasikan pada konteks yang salah. And by doing that, you can make make yourself sound like you are right. It’s a cheap trick that all competent debaters are familiar with!)

Seriously, this is not only a failure in the attainment of Post-Conventional Morality, but also a failure in basic comprehension. Khalas!

So if a professor cannot grasp this simple concept, what hopes do we have in our general public?  Seriously!

When you read the comments from the general public in facebook, there were so many supporters of the professor’s words. It boggles the mind! It scares me to know that there are so many Muslims who are so irrational and fail basic comprehension. They think they are religious but actually they are not! These supporters would write comment such as “Wardina ni asyik rasa dia betul. Pi jadi ustazah lah. Dia ni rasa dia lagi pandai dari ustaz and JAKIM” (Again! The words of someone who failed to reach post-conventional morality!)

Fortunately, I could see that there are also many supporters in the page of Dr. MAZA and Wardina. It relieves me to know that there are just as many people who are rational and intelligent among us Malaysian Muslims.

Our general public’s lack of critical thinking reflects badly on our education system, in my opinion. What do the kids learn at school that they grow up into adults who fail basic comprehension?

Dear parents, if you want your kids to be critical in dealing with issues, please talk to them about worldly matters and what’s in the news. Don’t simply entertain them layan kartun and dramas. Don’t be too frivolous. Talk about issues that matter! Ask them regarding their opinion about politics/ religion/books. Shape their minds. Enrich their internal world. Encourage them to read! Don’t delegate the task of educating their minds to teachers at school. Teachers are anal-retentive about finishing the syllabus (because the ministry put them up to it). They teach your kids WHAT to think; not HOW to think! They give your kids fish, but your kids need the fishing rod!

If you want your kids to grow into a well-mannered kid, don’t simply put them in a Maahad Tahfiz Hostel at the age of seven years old and think your job is done! Just this week, I have a case of one kid who was put in a religious hostel at the age of seven years old. Too young!  Now, he is already 10 years old. And he developed depression since the age of 8 years old but no one ever knew until now! The only reason he came into my attention was because he was abused by his father (who is also a Ketum abuser) and the case was referred to me. Isn’t it ironic? A ketum abuser who abused his own child claimed that the reason he put the kid into a religious hostel at the young age of seven was because he wanted the kid to grow up religious! With that sort of reasoning, I would expect the father to be a decent human being himself; certainly did not expect such a father to be a ketum abuser who kicked his kid and hit the kid’s head against the wall!

You would expect that a kid would not form any attachment to an abusive father. Perhaps, it was better for him to be placed in a hostel, right? At least, that’s what most people would think. But heck, kids do form attachment even to an abusive parent. They still crave love and attention from the same parent who abuse them. It may not be understandable, but that’s a fact of life and there is nothing we can do about it. And the kid has been feeling rejected since the age of seven years old (because he was placed in a hostel), and then he developed depression. Is there anything more heartbreaking, than a small child who should have no other worries in life other than learning and playing with friends, yet is dealing with depression and struggling with low self-esteem? This is just so sad. And as usual, when I feel sad, I become angry instead. I ranted to the mother about the father’s lack of fatherhood qualities and urged the mother to take the child out of the religious hostel. God, I was pushy. Usually, I can hide my pushiness with some tact of diplomacy. But that day, I couldn’t help myself. The mother is in the process of divorcing the father and I urged the mother to place the child in sekolah kebangsaan ASAP, regardless of what the father thinks. The mother agreed. And I am satisfied.

You yourself is responsible to educate your child to be religious, to be moral, to be intelligent! Do you think teachers can replace the parental attention that your child needs from you? Teachers are not gonna give your kids any special attention over the rest of other kids in the school. Teachers are not as personally invested in the well-being of your kids the way you would! When you put them in a hostel at such a young age, you miss the opportunity to shape their characters and their minds. Teachers can only do so much. It is your responsibility!

Don’t let them grow up into someone who cannot attain post-conventional morality secondary to lack of intellectual stimulation! Teachers can’t stimulate their brain to the extent that you can as a parent! Your kids can turn out to be professors, doctors, engineers, lawyers, clerks, factory workers, cleaners…whatever.

But they may never attain post-conventional morality. Because they were not stimulated enough! Even a cleaner might have an instinctive grasp of post-conventional morality than a professor. Truly!

In the world of intellectual pursuit, it would be a tragedy to have gained the title form of a professor without the substance of an intellectual!

These types don’t deserve to remain in the ivory tower of academia.

I leave you guys with a screenshot of my own Facebook status regarding this issue. I just couldn’t help myself. Haha.

Until next time.

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The Week For Spirituality

Last week, I think, is a ‘Spirituality Week’ for me (in the sense that I found myself talking about spiritual matters with a few different people individually, and then with a few people in a group at the end of the week).

I came across a colleague of mine reading a book during one of our free(er) moments in the day. And knowing me, I just had to stop and see the cover of the book and perhaps interest him into talking about it with me. (talking about books is the next best thing to actually reading it, lol). 

Turns out that it was a book on Christianity. And since I have always thought that he was a Buddhist, I was interested to know why he was reading that book. 

He told me that he was interested to know about other religions. So naturally, I told him that I had read on comparative religion when I was at the uni. I told him that I have come across Karen Armstrong’s History of God. That I have read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusions. That I attended Christian Awareness Week being held every year at the uni for the purpose of learning about Christianity and how it compared to Islam. 

I listened to videos by Muslim preachers, Christian Preachers, Richard Dawkins. I read on Theory Of Evolution and I also read The Evolution Deceit. 

We agreed that we should never follow faith blindly

I never thought I could have such satisfying conversation like that with a fellow colleague. Colleagues are people we endure small talk and work-related jokes and discussion with; not so much discussion on personal faith and belief. I have my own set of friends for that sort of thing. 

This just shows that you can find a searching soul at the least expected places. A soul in search for the truth can be one of the most beautiful thing one can ever stumbled upon in one’s life. 

It inspires us to never take spirituality for granted. People are always searching for it, knowingly or unknowingly. Some never attain it. 

I wish him luck in his quest.

***

Last week I had a conference in KL (ASCAPAP/MCPM). On the way there, I dropped by my elder sister’s workplace in Tanjung Malim and we went for lunch. And my Kak Long suddenly brought up existential topic like nobody’s business. 

With my elder sister, it is not surprising. Talking about things like that pass as a light topic between the two of us. It is mind stimulating, deep, thoughtful and challenging. 

Why do you know what you know? She asked.

How do we know God exists?

Why can’t God be more than one? How do you answer that question if asked?

How do  you know that everything that was taught to you is indeed the truth?

Now, most traditional people would be horrified by such questions. My parents certainly never answered those questions to my satisfaction. Neither the ustazah or whatever naqibah  I ever had.  I find  those questions stimulating and very intelligent! Just the sort of thing I expected my brilliant sister to ask. She had been a best student all her life. She is BOTH scientific and artsy. A statistician with a scientific mind, and a novelist with a philosopher’s soul. 

When it comes to matters of existentialism, the only difference between me and my sister is that I asked those questions and found the answers earlier in life because of something I had to go through at 18. (An ex-classmate of mine passed away suddenly. At 18 when life seems like an embodiment of immortality, that was like being rudely woken up after being doused in iced cold water, leaving me shivering, confused and afraid).

Most people DO have those questions in their head, on and off, for the rest of their lives. Whether or not they ignore and suppress them or actually struggle to find the answers depends on the type of personality and the intellectual background the person has. 

I am the sort who has to find the answers to questions that are bugging me. And I want answers that satisfy me to the point that I can accept it as the most logical, natural self-evident truth. In other words, unshakeable confidence was what I was looking for.

I found the answers after researching the topic in my free time between the age of 18 to 22.

When you want answers, and you go through the intellectual journey of finding them, you will get the answers. But if you have questions and then you never bothered to answer them (because it’s time-consuming, it’s a busy life after all) then you will struggle with them, on and off, for the rest of your life.

When you follow the traditional course of “Just swallow, never questions,” no truth will ever truly ‘settle’ inside the sanctum sanctorum of your heart. Your faith will always be ‘not quite there’. Doubts will assail you at the slightest prod and provocation. For someone like me, I can never live without absolute certainty in something as important as whether or not God really exists. After all, that’s our purpose in life. Our life is about finding God, and after finding Him, being closer and closer to Him to the best of our ability, for the rest of our lives. That’s why those questions will keep on bugging you every now and then until you settle them once and for all. It’s our instinct prodding us to continue our search until we attain unshakeable belief. 

Until I can say more than “because that’s my faith’, I cannot rest easy. I believe, you should be able to explain your faith based on facts and logic. Just saying ‘that’s my belief’ just don’t cut it for me. And it shouldn’t be for anyone. 

Know why you believe what you believe. 

This was what I told my sister. 

“We are Muslims. We do all the ritual that makes us Muslims. We identify ourselves as Muslims. Your questions are good. It’s something every Muslim should ask. God himself asked us to not simply follow our ancestors in matter of faith, rather we should actively engage in finding the answers to convince ourselves truly and honestly that our belief is the correct one.”

I told her that Allah himself asks us to use our brain. “Afala tatafakkarun” (Tidakkah kamu berfikir?). He asks us to falsify the Quran if we are not convinced. (now, falsification/nullification is a mathematic and scientific process which appeals to a mathematician). Faith is not a passive process. It is our inherent fault in the society when we taught religion passively to our kids. They end up not really understanding what they claim they understand. And they feel unsafe to voice out their doubts because they can feel that it is discouraged (like it was an act of blasphemy) to ask sincerely for explanation. 

I told her that finding God has a process to it that I went through and I had benefitted greatly from it, Alhamdulillah.

First Step:

Ask yourself whether you think God exists? Why or why not? (This is when you have to read The Evolution Theory, Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusions. This is when you also have to listen to videos and debates between an atheist and a theist. This is when you come across the philosophical aspect of existentialism. This is also when you read the scientific aspect of why it is not feasible for the world to come about by chance). 

Unfortunately, there is a lot of reading and videos to go through. After all, IT IS an intellectual adventure, so you can’t expect easy answers! Nope, there is no short-cut. People can tell you their own personal experience of how they come to have belief. But you have to go through the journey yourself.

If, after all those readings, you decided there is no God. Then, your journey ends here. That’s it. No more finding out to do (but every now and then, you might wonder again. It is our instinct to find God. I believe, God put that instinct there.)

Second step:

Once you have decided that God does exist,you have to ask yourself, whether He will let us do whatever we like and just leave us to our own devices? Is he just amusing himself with the creations without any purpose? Does that fit your concept of God?

Or do you think he would have sent us rules and guidance to help us govern our lives in a way He wants us to?

If you believe our God is a frivolous God who is only amusing himself and simply let us do whatever we like, then your search ends here. Go ahead and do whatever you want, believing in a Creator that would not hold you accountable for anything you do in this life.  Your search will end here; where you believe there is a Creator, but the impact that belief has on your life is minuscule and immaterial to how you live your life.

But if you believe that God would not have created us for nothing, that there ARE rules and morals and ethics that have been set out, then the search begins all over again.

Third Step:

List every religion in the world and read on them one by one. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Bahai’i, Paganism, Wicca etc etc.

Ideally, you can read on those religions one by one. And cross off your list systematically.

I had a short-cut here. I didn’t investigate man-made religion at all. I crossed off Wicca, Scientology, Paganism, Bahai’i and all modern man-made religion from the very beginning. Because if it’s man-made, then it would not be a true religion based on divine messages. 

I crossed off Hinduism because my background made me pretty convinced that God is not worshipped through idols made of stones of different shapes. Some people believe that, and I respect that. But I just find it difficult, personally, to have intercession (perantaraan) between me and God. I believe, you can call to God directly.

I also did not investigate Buddhism. Because Buddha was not God. Buddhism is just a nice way of living. But it is not about God from the outset. So, I crossed it off from the get-go.

That left me with Islam, Judaism and Christianity. 

My search on Judaism told me that they don’t preach or seek to convert others. I never attended Judaism Awareness Week at the Uni because the Jews never organised it. They don’t trouble themselves to get people to ‘find the right path’ in Judaism. Judaism is really just for the Jews. Almost exclusively so, I might add. In fact, based on my conversation with a Jew that I came across  in an interfaith dialogue organised by the Uni, they seemed to discourage conversion by saying, “It’s difficult for outsiders to convert to Judaism. There are so many rituals that they have to go through. We neither encourage nor discourage conversion.” (which is a direct opposition to what Muslims and Christians would say. We always strive to entice people into the religion because we believe we have the right one and we want people to be in heaven like us and so on and so forth).

So, I crossed off Judaism because I believed God is not selective and He would be fair. He would not favour only one particular race. But having said that, the Jew that I talked to may only represent a minority of them in the religion. Maybe the real Rabbi would have tried harder to convert me. But again, I have never heard of any Jew actively doing dakwah and promoting their religion to others, have you? It seemed to be the general way of the religion. 

Now, all that was left were Christianity and Islam. I had an advantage in that I already knew a lot of things about Islam and I have practiced it all my life. All I was aiming for was the strengthening of my faith. So that I could tell for sure to myself that I have investigated on other religions. That I’ve made an educated choice. That my faith is not just a hereditary one. Does that make sense?

I compared Christianity and Islam using the book The Choice by Ahmed Deedat. And I also listened to videos by Yusha Evans ‘My Journey to Islam’ (it’s in You Tube)

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It basically convinced me, beyond reasonable doubt, that Islam is the one true religion, asking me to worship the one true God as my purpose of life. I learned things in Christianity that I never really knew before. I had trouble with the concept of the Trinity (the fact that there was no such a concept prior to the Council Of Nicea). I didn’t understand why Jesus had to die for our sins when God could just forgive us if He wants to without anyone having to die. And if Jesus was God, how could he die? And I also could not get over the injustice of the Original Sin. Things like that.

Then, I started listening to Nouman Ali Khan videos about the scientific and literary marvel of the Quran. I started devouring Harun Yahya’s books. Everything just clicked into place.

And that was how my intellectual and spiritual journey began and still ongoing. 

if you actually go through the journey yourself, you will notice that the hardest part is the first step. Once you are convinced that there MUST be a God, Islam becomes almost the natural choice after studied through every other religion. 

***

The problem with our society is that they are afraid that if their youngsters ask these questions, the youngsters will be led astray and end up murtad. My mom saw the bible I brought from Australia which I placed side by side with my other religious books on the top shelf, and the next day I noticed she placed it at the bottom shelf along with my fiction books. (Haha. I let her have her way. Didn’t want to exacerbate her anxiety).

They were so afraid of the slightest indication or symptoms of apostasy but they never tried to tackle the root cause of it.  

It’s like treating the abdominal pain without removing the gastric cancer. The cancer I meant here is intellectual thirst! You cannot simply brush off legit questions asked by your kids or your students because a)you are not sure yourself, b)you are afraid their quest for the truth will end up in apostasy. 

Usually, it is  the other way around. When you discourage them from asking legit questions, that’s when they will be led astray and apostasy happens. In fact, those who ask questions end up finding Islam or if they are already Muslims, having their faith strengthened.  

The least we can do is to say, “Let’s talk about it. Let’s find the answers together. Let’s make it an intellectual adventure involving a rendezvous with philosophy, science, history and culture,”

What we shouldn’t do is look horrified and exclaimed “You are having a spiritual CRISIS. You should repent to God and do the Solat Taubat.”

I ended the one hour and a half lunch with my sister by encouraging her to go on researching on the questions. After all, my nephew and niece, inheriting their mother’s intelligence gene insya-Allah, will surely ask her just exactly the same questions.   

***

I came back from ASCAPAP/MCPM and came across another colleague with whom we talked about instinct,spirituality and religion.

She was of the opinion that spirituality has nothing to do with religion. I only partially agreed with her. I told her that “Yes, sometimes religion only emphasise on the ritual and ignoring the spiritual aspect of it.” And what I meant by spiritual aspect is the intellectual aspect of it (the reason, the why, the wonder behind all these). 

“But for those whose spirituality is deeply connected to the religion, ignoring religious rules will cause them to experience spiritual void. For them, spirituality and religion is connected and they can’t say ‘I am spiritual even though I ignore the rules in my religion’ It doesn’t jibe. ” I continued.

To me, yes, you can be spiritual but NOT YET religious. But being spiritual naturally will ease your way into being more religious and makes you want to perform the rituals because you know why you do what you do. So in that sense, spirituality and religiosity strengthen one another. Which is exactly what it is supposed to be doing in the first place. 

The next day, a group of us suddenly found ourselves talking about comparative religion as a group. At that time, it was just the three of us (2 master students and me) talking about our daily tasks. Suddenly the same colleague who I mentioned was reading on Christianity asked me about my study on comparative religion during my younger days at the uni. So, we got into discussing the theories again. 

And then a few other MOs joined in. One of them said “I don’t really believe in anything.” And I respect that. It doesn’t mean he never will. Our journey begins or ends or pauses at different stage and different pace, after all. 

One said, “I think faith is personal between you and God,” Yup, that might be true. I respect that it was true for him. But just because it is personal between you and God, does not mean a bunch of us shouldn’t discuss and talk about it whenever we feel like it. It’s not like there was any compulsion or forced conversion or disrespect going on with the discussion (even though it could turn into that, if you lack the quality of tolerance and respect). Some people talk about their personal belief because  they find it more stimulating than talking about the latest gossip or the latest gadget or just random small talk (that bores me silly). 

Don’t blame me for appearing uninterested for cutting a conversation short if I find anyone is too frivolous or too light-hearted for my taste. My boredom threshold is pretty low. When I am not interested, it shows. I just simply don’t respond and end the conversation quickly. I always prefer a conversation with substance. 

And what can be more substantial than talking about the existence of God, agree?  

Let’s see how far we have come (or regressed)!

On June 26, 2015 something momentous had occurred in  the United States of America. The US Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 US states.

The US LGBTQ community finally wins after decades of propaganda and fighting.

Little by little they changed the social construct. 

Lao-Tzu was right: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

They were persistent and tenacious, out-spoken and courageous, organized and systematic, unified and integrated.

They launched their mission and attack using an impressive holistic step-by-step approach:

  1. Romanticizing the act of ‘coming out of the closet’ by praising these people as brave, and criticising those who oppose them as bigots. They romanticised the whole concept of love, saying how it is a beautiful thing regardless with which gender the love is directed at. 
  2. Propagating their agenda by getting celebrities and influential people to support LGBTQ. 
  3. Getting scientist to endorse that being gay is natural. In fact, it is said to be in the genetic make up. They spread this ideology straight into medical schools all over the world (mine included; gay counsellors are given one hour lecture time when we learned about sexuality in 3rd year). So we have the world’s brilliant people who most of them support LGBTQ as something natural and biological. If you cannot believe your own doctors when they say gays are natural, then who can you believe, right?
  4. Once their social standing is high (due to the aforementioned support of celebrities, influential people, scientist of brilliant minds), their ability to exert social pressure is increased.
  5. When they are able to exert social pressure, the politicians had no choice but to listen to them. They lobbied politicians (and powerful ones too) – Hillary Clinton and Obama, just to name a few.
  6. The politicians are policy makers! Do the math! And see the outcome now. 

They won. Finally. After decades of fighting. 

The silent majority lose because their protest was not systematic. The silent majority lose because they were silent. They couldn’t be bothered to STRATEGICALLY plan a counter-attack. 

I notice this sort of malaise attitude in the Malays, I am sorry to say. They just couldn’t be bothered to oppose vehemently, write scathingly, advocate forcefully and fight strategically for whatever cause they believe is right. They easily gave up at the slightest hurdle. They wouldn’t complain of ill treatment by superiors, wouldn’t stand up for themselves when they were bullied, and will also not back up their friends who were bullied. Even if they start the process of complaining to the higher authority, their effort can easily be vanquished at the slightest reprimand by the higher authority. They couldn’t be bothered to go higher up in the hierarchy chain until they get what is righteously theirs. Their burst of momentum only enough to move them a step forward, but no further. 

I lamented this sort of passivity among my own circle of friends. If they don’t even care to fight for themselves, how can we expect them to care about higher ideals and universal truths? How can we expect them to care for the justice of others if they don’t even care to defend their own selves!

In Islam, advocating for righteousness is an ethical and moral obligation, regardless of whether or not it directly concerns you. 

“If one of you sees something wrong, let him change it with his hand; if he cannot, then with his tongue; if he cannot, then with his heart and this is the weakest faith.” Some versions add: “there is no part of faith behind that, not even so much as a mustard seed.”

Readers, let’s talk about doing good. Call out to those who say something that is against the established moral and ethical principles even if it is being said by the most influential people among you. Talk about universal truths. Write about it. Spread it in the social media. Viral it. Lobby your MPs to fight for what is right. Be as courageous, as vocal, and as systematic as the LGBTQ movement when we are promoting good. 

Because Sardinia Ali r.a had once said “Truth unplanned shall be defeated by organised falsehood” 

In Malay,Kebenaran yang tidak terancang boleh dikalahkan oleh kebatilan yang terancang”

But the silent majority prefer deafening silence to the exclusion of nothing.

Because the silent majority gave up and said nothing for fear of being labeled ‘bigoted and backward’, now the LGBTQ is legalised in the US.

 ***

In germany, another sort of decadence rear its ugly head.

Mere days after the legalisation of LGBTQ in the US, the news about how the Germany’s National Ethics Council has called for an end to the criminalisation of incest between siblings reappeared in the social media. 

Screenshot 2015-07-09 20.55.47

This would have been unthinkable among the general public merely a few years ago. But now, a freaking ETHIC COUNCIL has called for its legalisation. If an ethic council can be this unethical, what hope can we place on the general population? I shuddered in my boots simply thinking about how the world’s morals have deteriorated to the lowest low it’s ever been.

I was interested to examine the reason given by the Germany Ethic Council. Apparently, they came to that decision after looking at the specific case of Patrick Stubbing who was adopted as an infant and met his sister, Susan Karolewski for the first time when he was 24 and his sister was 16.

And they went on to have four children! Two of them were disabled though whether incest was the cause is not able to be determined. 

In 2008, Peter Stubbing was convicted of incest but continued to appeal for his rights to a family life. 

What’s next? Legalization of pedophillia? 

Are we going to support for an absolute “right to sexual self-determination” at the cost of the society?

Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.05.36

***

Some might ask, why should the society care anyway? My life, my rights, my risks! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and their rights to freedom, say them.

Wrong! 

Your freedom is limited by your rights. In turn, your rights are limited by another person’s rights. 

Your rights end where another person’s rights begin. 

I repeat, your rights end where another person’s rights begin.

The society has to care because it involves children. The impact that gay marriages would have on children can be devastating. The impact of incest on normal development of children would be huge. It would cross all sorts of boundaries and confuse things that are already chaotic. The children that are produced from incestuous relationship would always feel different, ashamed and would have identity issues.

Is my father actually my uncle? Is my mother actually my aunty? Are they both my parents and also my aunt/uncle?

Imagine the sorts of jeering taunts the children will have to endure? And we have not even gotten to the topic of illness and disability of the children of an incestuous relationship!.

These children have rights! Your rights should not trample all over theirs. 

Just like the children of gay couples have rights,

Read this confession of a daughter of a lesbian couple H.E.R.E. The sort of emotional internal struggle she had to endure is very heartbreaking. 

Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.58.12

Yet, these people still choose to say “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,their own lifestyles etc etc.”

***

In Malaysia, another form of sickening illness is brewing. We are like jack of all trades, master of none. We dabble in all sorts of dubious activities without any discrimination. 

Since a picture is worth a thousand words (for truly, I have run out of them), then these are the pictures that will tell you more eloquently the sort of sickening illness I meant. 

In Politics, corruption is rampant.

Screenshot 2015-07-10 08.03.01

In economy, we are getting all sorts of financial pressures, right, left and centre.

Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.24.06 Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.24.48

And a helpful person went on to brilliantly and kindly suggest that we can save up by not ‘balik kampung’ for raya on national TV. Speechless. 

Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.27.47

In religious and social aspects, the Malays are number one in decadence. Ridiculous over-religiosity and over sensitivity such as have occurred when a teacher in Sg Petani had forbidden the non-muslims primary schoolers from drinking and eating in front of their Muslim friends, and then jokingly talk about drinking their own urine in the toilet if they got thirsty:

This was my own facebook status that I wrote at the start of the Ramadhan.
This was my own facebook status that I wrote at the start of the Ramadhan.

And even more ridiculous, we became paranoid and scared of our own shadows with regards to the Christians brothers and sisters.

Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.35.04

I just couldn’t ‘brain’ this! It is humiliating and degrading to us, Muslims when a minority of us behave stupidly. 

At the same time of ridiculous pseudo-overreligiosity, we also have people who commit heinous crime against each other that we would never have done to stray cats in the street. Again, they are mostly Muslims! We are the master of contradictions. 

Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.20.38 Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.22.07 Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.22.52

Recently, there was also a debate regarding the length of a woman skirt, for God’s sake. I reiterate that to me, rules are rules! I will not deny anyone their rights to wear whatever they like…but if it is against the rules of the place where they wanted to go, then they shouldn’t cry when they are not allowed to go in. 

I think we have blown things out of proportion over such petty matters: on BOTH sides of the debate. I have debated this matter in a lengthy and tiresome manner in the Dobbs Facebook page. Enough has been said about it and I am not going to continue the rant further in this post. 

Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.12.43

***

In my family, I was brought up talking about politics, economy, ethics and morals. When we don’t talk about those, we talked about books. Those are our light topics. It’s been that way since I was in primary school. The years of my primary school was the beginning of an exciting political era in Malaysia with the sacking of the then Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. And there was also the Great Economic Crisis of 1997 and 1998. I was a very ardent newspaper reader back then too. My father at that time taught me English by buying me English newspapers and picked some suitable articles for me to translate into the Malay language. That way, I learned BOTH proper Bahasa Melayu and English. Until now, language is my favourite subject. The articles that my father picked for me were always mostly about politics; never about entertainment (to my despair). I had to do those translations daily; one article per day. So, at that time, I can say that I was arguably the most politically and socially aware standard 5 student in the class. 

I cannot remember talking about much of anything else with my family other than politics. Until now, we can argue and not talk for days with each other simply because of a differing opinion in politics and (un)ethical business approach. 

As a result, I am not very socially-apt in conversing on other matters. Makes me a socially awkward person most of the time. 

There are times when I wish I could be less serious, and can think of more lighter topics to talk in a social settings or write about in the social media.

But, I can’t. 

You see, serious matters are….well, serious, They tend to generate strong views and opinions. They tend to cause me to talk vehemently, righteously, and yes, annoyingly. In a “hang asyik rasa hang betul ja, Afiza” way.  The problem is not that I cannot accept other people’s opinion. The problem is that their opinions are wrong and therefore, unacceptable. (haha, yeah I am annoying. I have pretty good insight about how annoying I can be)

If we are talking about favourite colours, favourite food, favourite type of homes, favourite dresses, favourite cars (which are the things I don’t talk about much), then yes your opinion is always acceptable. 

But sometimes, we are talking about something that is more crucial than that. We are talking about justice, rightness, equality, fairness, moral and ethical dilemmas. In these sort of topics, you should try to THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY to arrive to the most accurate stand. You cannot simply end your argument with “everyone is entitled to their opinion” because that is just plain lazy. You trivialise the matter to the same level as “favourite colours and favourite food.”

How could you simply shrug your shoulders like that?

Maybe because some people don’t really care. But they want to be seen to have an opinion anyway. So they come up with one. And when we criticise that opinion, they can simply say “you have to respect my opinion,”

I learned eventually to not even start an argument with them. Because they are not really interested in arriving to the truth. They only have something to say about it, so they say it. And then they leave the argument never thinking further about it. 

I am the sort who ruminate on a problem until I am convinced that I have arrived to the most righteous, just, ethical conclusion. And once having arrived to that conclusion, I want people to know it and advocate it with me. That’s me being an INTP (if you google INTP, you will understand why I am this way. I only just understand why I am like this, after all these years. MBTI is brilliant!) I get frustrated when people don’t ‘get’ it!

I invest my intellect and my emotion in these sorts of issues. And I guess, that’s why I cannot control how frustrated I feel when people don’t see something that seems so plain, to me. 

Now I have learned to pick and choose with whom I can talk about these things with. I can only talk about these things with those who are not easily offended by my choice of words when I disagree. I can only talk about these things in depth with family and close friends who possess the same sort of inclination as I do.

But I will continue to write and spread awareness that we should be less passive and more vocal when promoting what is good and right. Because “kebenaran yang senyap tidak memberi impak.” Because being silent does not exert the sort of social pressure needed to get the politicians to take notice and create good policies. 

Because “kebenaran yang tidak terancang boleh dikalahkan oleh kebatilan yang terancang.”  

***

This used to be my favourite song for studying when I was a 4th year medical student. I think it is very apt to be sung in the current days of confusion, decadence, and moral disintegration. 

Let’s see how far we’ve come, folks! And how far we have regressed. 

Screenshot 2015-07-10 07.54.54