Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category
In Malaysia, the legal position is that Muslim men can marry non-Muslim women who are considered to a Kitabbiyah whereas Muslim women have no equivalent right. Is such a position Constitutionally appropriate? And what happens when an ‘inter-faith’ marriage falls apart? What happens to their children?
Walk this way and listen to BFM’s Caroline Oh and Ezra Zaid interviewing me on this issue.
P.S. Failed 2 fact checks in the session. See if you can detect it.
[Hint (1): Abdul Kahar is from Selangor and Ariffin Mohamed (Ayah Pin) is from Terengganu.]
[Hint (2): Statistics of 1000 applicants was over a 10 year period.]
P.P.S. Found out there was a similar motion argued on The Doha Debates some years back. Speakers raised arguments for and against the motion. Interestingly, the motion was passed.
Posted in History/Current Affairs, Islam | Comments Off
There has been quite a bit said and quite a bit written about the National Registration Department’s practice of restricting a Muslim parent’s rights in naming their illegitimate children. BFM decided to join in the fray and invited Ratna Osman (Acting Executive Director of Sisters of Islam) as well as yours truly to have a chat on that topic.
Here is a podcast of that chat:
Posted in History/Current Affairs, Islam | Comments Off
One of my favourite stories in the Sandman series written by Neil Gaiman was Ramadan. It was illustrated and lettered in the Arabic tradition and was a masterpiece for a story written in that genre with classic lines such as:
“There were paths through the palace that none but Haroun Al Raschid knew; and this was because those who had drawn up the plans, and those who had built the paths, had all long since gone to their final reward: for it is seldom healthy to know the secrets of a king.”
Strangely enough, despite its title, the book had absolutely nothing to do with the month of Ramadan.
It did make me wonder though – What is the significance of Ramadan? Why is it considered so blessed? What were Muslims ordained to do in the month of Ramadan? What is the rationale of fasting? What is the length of the fast and what is permissible or prohibited during fasting? What about the Tarawih prayers?
The Quran says a number of things about Ramadan. In Surah Al-Baqarah verse 185, the Quran says:
Ramadan is the (month)
In which was sent down
The Quran, as a guide
To mankind, also clear (Signs)
For guidance and judgment
(Between right and wrong).
From that verse, we know that the Quran was sent down in the month of Ramadan and what is blessed is also apparent from that same verse – the ability to discern between right and wrong.
The verse then goes on to ordain as follows:
So every one of you
Who is present (at his home)
During that month
Should spend it in fasting,
But if any one is ill,
Or on a journey,
The prescribed period
(Should be made up)
By days later.
Allah intends every facility
For you; He does not want
To put you to difficulties.
(He wants you) to complete
The prescribed period,
And to glorify Him
In that He has guided you;
And perchance ye shall be grateful.
Muslims were therefore enjoined to fast during the month of Ramadan save and unless they were ill or were undertaking a journey (musafirs). In other words, while a religious obligation was imposed, dispensation from observing the obligation was similarly extended as ”Allah intends every facility for you; he does not want to put you to difficulties“.
Still, why should Muslims fast? Well, this is what the Quran says on this a few verses back:
O ye who believe!
Fasting is prescribed to you
As it was prescribed
To those before you,
That ye may (learn)
Self-restraint – (2: 183)
Clearly, we fast in order to learn self-restraint. But what about what is permissible during the period of fast and during Ramadan? This is what the Quran says:
Permitted to you,
On the night of the fasts,
Is the approach to your wives.
They are your garments
And ye are their garments. (2:187)
And eat and drink,
Until the white thread
Of dawn appear to you
Distinct from its black thread;
Then complete your fast
Till the night appears … (2: 187)
From the above, it is clear that Muslims are not prohibited from being with their wives when they are not fasting. They are also not prohibited from eating or drinking from the time they break fast until the break of dawn.
This is rather different from how:
- Buddhists fast. They can drink some liquids but not eat.
- Catholics – on Good Friday, its two small meals and one regular meal. On Lent, no meat.
- Hindus – can vary but generally no food or water for 24 hours. (Interestingly, there is something called the Chandrayan Vrat which is a month long fast broken by 1 morsel of food on the first night and gradually increasing by 1 morsel until the 14th night and thereon the 14 morsels are gradually reversed to 1.)
- Jews – on Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, no food or water for 25 hours.
Still, those minor differences does not detract from the fact that fasting is common between all faith groups.
What about what happens after Muslims break fast? You know, when Muslims start going to the mosque in large numbers and it looks like the is a sea of white forms rushing to do some prayer or another. Its called the Tarawih prayer and normally last a couple of hours with the leader of the prayer (imam) reciting various verses from Quran.
Interestingly, Tarawih is not mentioned in the Quran but references to the prayer exists in Prophetic Traditions (hadith). Not so for tahhajjud (night) prayers though. It is mentioned specifically in the Quran and all Muslims are enjoined to perform it. In Al-Muzzammil verse 20:
Thy Lord doth know
That thou standest forth
(To prayer) nigh two-thirds
Of the night, or half
The night, or a third
Of the night, and so doth
A party of those with thee.
and verse 1-4:
O thou folded
Stand (to prayer) by night,
But not all night -
Half of it -
Or a little less,
Or a little more;
And recite the Quran
In slow, measured rhythmic tones.
So, for those who were thinking they found an arguable reason to skip Tarawih, tahhajjud still beckons. Ramadan Mubarak, my friends! And I am not referring to the novel …
Posted in Islam | Comments Off
Peace! Good news, we are bringing back the Let’s Read the Quran Campaign this Bulan Puasa.
Campaign name: Let’s Read The Quran (2)
Logo/icon: As above.
During the first campaign (January 14 – February 14 2009) there were four friends Syed, Walski, Marina and Anas who got together in the campaign and about 50 blogs participated helping us reach a larger audience.
This time around, four more friends will be part of the main team; they are Art Harun, Jahamy, Pah Nur and Nizam Bashir.
To recap, the campaign is not only for Muslims, but also for our brothers and sisters who are Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and those who believe in God and a proper way of doing things – come join us and share your ideas! You can join this campaign even if you are an atheist!
The goal of this campaign is to encourage people to read the Quran in a language they understand most and find in it areas of common value for our day to day living.
We also want to hear your feedback and comments.
What is the Campaign all about?
Read the Quran in the language that you are familiar with.
When will the campaign start and end?
August 22nd to September 21st (Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri)
Participating blogs in the blogosphere.
So more people know what the Quran says and what the Quran does not say and to match its relevance to our daily lives.
Anyone who wants to – the more the merrier! If you have a Blog, Facebook, etc carry the logo/icon.
- To join the campaign, place the accompanying logo/icon at your blog.
- Write or share short articles based on the Quranic text.
- Share what you find in the Quran with family and friends.
- Ask questions about the Quranic message
- Read the Quran – eg click here http://www.islamicity.com/QuranSearch , www.altafsir.com
Peace and Thanks,
Marina Mahathir http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com
Syed Akbar Ali http://syedsoutsidethebox.blogspot.com
Art Harun http://art-harun.blogspot.com
Pah Nur http://lunchatthelakeclub.blogspot.com
Nizam Bashir http://nizambashir.com and,
Anas Zubedy http://letusaddvalue.blogspot.com
1. 3540 Jalan Sudin http://www.nursamad.blogspot.com/
2. Anas Zubedy: http://letusaddvalue.blogspot.com
3. ARTiculations: http://art-harun.blogspot.com/
4. Being Human in the World: http://www.peru.name/writing
5. Cowboy Malaysia: http://cowboymalaysia.wordpress.com
6. Disquiet: http://malikimtiaz.blogspot.com
7. Jebat Must Die: http://jebatmustdie.wordpress.com/
8. Lunch at the Lake Club: http://lunchatthelakeclub.blogspot.com
9. MACVAYSIA: http://macvaysia.com
10. myAsylum: http://asylum60.blogspot.com
11. O.B.E. http://shar101.wordpress.com/
12. OutSyed The Box: http://syedsoutsidethebox.blogspot.com
13. Poetic Justice: http://nizambashir.com/
14. Rantings by MM: http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com
15. Rapera: http://jahaberdeen.blogspot.com/
16. Renovatio: http://stephendoss.blogspot.com
17. Rocky’s Bru: http://rockybru.com.my/
18. Write Away: http://elviza.wordpress.com/
19. Writing By Amir: http://amirmu.blogspot.com/
Posted in Islam | Comments Off
Charles Baudelaire once said that the greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist. Well, he said that but the saying probably remained out of the limelight until Verbal Kint popularised it in the cult hit The Usual Suspects.
Not that it matters either way. They were both wrong. The truth is the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that no evil comes out of doing a “good” thing.
So when I first heard about the Home Minister’s prohibition of the use of the word “Allah”, I must confess that I had mixed feelings. Allow me to explain.
Let’s skip to a couple of weeks back. On June 27, 2009, the Star reports that the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Rev. Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam, withdrew his 2008 application for judicial review of the “prohibition” but was still pursuing the one that he filed in 2009. He did so for good reason as the 2008 application, according to the Star, related to a 2008 publishing permit and the same had lapsed. The subject matter was therefore academic.
The same could not be said about the 2009 publishing permit. Still, it seemed sensible to ask, why was this man — who for all intents and purposes was a man of faith — so driven in his quest for the review?
It seemed too easy to succumb to the malicious whispers going around some circles that this was all part and parcel of a grand design to obtain more converts to “their” faith. But if you really think about it, if you really ponder over the articles of the Islamic faith, it challenges a Muslim in every way possible — ultimately, compelling him or her to decide on any matter and any issue by using his aql or reason.
Armed with that worldview, let us consider question anew. Why was this man so driven in his quest for the review? Doesn’t Allah, the noun, the name, the intellectual property, call it whatever you may, belong to Muslims and to Muslims alone?
No. It does not.
The fact is “Allah” has for a long time been utilised in the religious texts of those beyond the Muslim faith.
Take the Shri Guru Grant Sahib for example; it utilises the word “Allah” approximately 46 times throughout its passages! The word “Allah” can also be found in localised translations of the Bible. This has been the case, like it or not, since — at least — the 1800s.
By this stage, it is becoming clear that the prohibition over the word “Allah” is more than just a mere “intellectual property” dispute between Muslims and other faith groups. The religious rights of non-Muslims are being impinged upon and it does tremendous disservice to the reputation of Muslims and to the image of Islam if the Prohibition is countenanced.
Way back in 2003, a similar issue arose in relation to an Iban-language Bible, better known as Bup Kudus. It utilised the word “Allah Tala” and was banned because it was similar to the phrase “Allah Ta’ala” used by Muslims. Yet, in April 2003 — presumably after careful study and perhaps being somewhat wary of offending the right of other faith groups to profess and practice their faith as assured by Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution — the Malaysian Government chose to lift the ban.
So, why has the issue been revisited? If called to speculate, well, maybe someone, somewhere, within the Home Ministry had a religious experience. But this still does not explain the reversal in policy as the end product of the religious experience is unsupported by the religious narrative.
Take the Quran for a start. Three verses in the Quran, as pointed out by the Research Committee of Islam Today (which operates under the general supervision of Sheikh Salman Al-Oadah, a scholar who has published approximately 50 books on Islam and reputedly gained classical Islamic education in accordance with Wahabbi tradition), i.e. Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 64, Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 73 and Sûrah al-Tawbah: 30 shows “Allah” being used by the Jews and Christians.
No doubt in those verses “Allah” was used in a relatively conversational tone but the point is if the use of “Allah” is exclusive to Muslims, then the Quran would not even have made reference to its use by the adherents of other faiths in any form — conversational or otherwise.
There is also the conduct of the Prophet to be taken account in this regard, whose conduct the Quran itself acknowledges as the perfect repository of “… beautiful pattern (of conduct)” (33:21) — the Prophet never forbade pre-Islamic Arabs from using the word “Allah”.
In this regard, i.e. the situation then in pre-Islamic Arabia, the Research Committee of Islam Today makes a further important point i.e.:
“The people of Arabia all referred to the creator of the heavens and the Earth as “Allah”, whether they were Jews, Christians, or pagans. This is the reason why, in pre-Islamic times, many people of all three faiths already carried the name `Abd Allah.
They included the Prophet’s father `Abd Allah b. `Abd al-Muttalib who died before the Prophet (peace be upon him) was born, as well as the Prophet’s cousin `Abd Allah b. Abî Umayyah who only accepted Islam shortly before the conquest of Mecca.
They included the prominent Jewish rabbi of Madinah, `Abd Allah b. Salâm, who became one of the most eminent of the Prophet’s Companions. Of course, he had been given the name `Abd Allah by his Jewish family long before Islam.”
Yet, despite the clarity provided by the religious narrative, the Home Ministry made the Prohibition and it is apt to ask why they did so.
The obvious answer is that the Prohibition will be perceived to be — as Muhammad Asad puts it in his book Islam at the Crossroads — part of “a construction of a worldly frame for the best possible spiritual development” of a Muslim and therefore will be tacitly, if not expressly, supported.
However, the construction of such a worldly frame comes at the cost of the spiritual comfort and religious rights of other faith groups. More than that, it is also rejected by the religious narrative. So, what beneficial “spiritual development” are we talking about here? You tell me.
That said, I trust I can be permitted to end on a more cautionary note and there are two points I wish to make.
Firstly, “Allah” cannot be used in reference to anything other than god, the creator. To say otherwise would be disrespectful and insensitive to the reasonable spiritual comforts of the various faith groups who do use the word “Allah”.
Secondly, there may be words – such as the “Quran” for Muslims or whatever other words iconic of any other religion – which certain faith groups may rightfully consider as being exclusive to them. We need to ask ourselves if it is right and proper that there should be an absolute free for all where words are concerned.
Freedom is always a good thing. Just keep in mind that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that no evil comes out of pursuing a “good” thing.
(Malaysian Insider: 21.07.2009)
Posted in Islam, Law | Comments Off
A couple of years back, I, somehow, pointed out in another website that Syariah legislation (in Malacca at least) explicitly recognizes the acceptance of huqm/principles from the following mazhabs Syafie, Hanafi, Maliki, Hambali and Syiah (albeit restricted to Zaidiyyah and Jaafariyyah). In other words, Syiah Muslims are not banned from professing their belief in any way in Malaysia. This was not accurate.
In 1991, that was true but not in 2002. In 2002, the definition of accepted principles of syarak was amended. The Syiah mazhab was no longer accepted and since then, Syiah Muslims were, in essence, banned in Malaysia.
Of course, some of you may be wondering why I am pointing this out now. Well, at the time I said it, it was in relation to a discussion about a book authored by Syed Akbar Ali Malaysia and the Club of Doom. I am about to do a ‘book review’ about his new book Things in Common and it seemed sensible to put things in their proper order.
Things in Common, the author’s new book, is in a sense a sequel to Malaysia and the Club of Doom. In either book, the author has his sights trained on Muslims and how their practices do not accord with the tenets of the Islamic faith as laid out in the Quran.
However, in other respects, Things in Common departs from Malaysia and the Club of Doom as this time around, the author goes further by illustrating how some of those actions are reflective of the traditions or practices of the adherents of other faiths.
For Muslims who take pride that the Quran is the final Message sent by God as all earlier ones deviated from its original Message, this must come as a shock – to be told that you are no different from those you claim are in error.
Stylistically, the author has maintained the informality of Malaysia and the Club of Doom. The book is simple to read and the arguments easy to follow. However, this is the least significant aspect of the book.
What is significant is that the book is a timely reminder that Muslims may be in danger of abandoning the true spiritual traditions that is Islam and does so by holding up a mirror for Muslims to see what their true reflection looks like. It does so forcefully and makes no apologies for doing so.
Granted, at a time when Islam – the religion – seems to be taking a lot of brickbats, such criticisms and hard talking may be somewhat uncomfortable. It is all too easy to think that Islam itself is being besieged from without and within.
However, the focus of the book isn’t on Islam but those who call themselves Muslims and seen in this light, Things in Common is merely staying true to message inherent in this Quranic verse:
And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided? (2:170)
castigating Muslims for aping others, knowingly or unknowingly, and abandoning what Allah has revealed.
So, it the book worth a read? I think so. Like any book, one can quibble about this or that – such as the fact that there are some portions of the present book which repeats the themes covered in Malaysia and the Club of Doom – but such remarks are just that, mere quibbles.
Its sensible to be self-critical and if we Muslims lack the wherewithal or the courage to do so, the author facilitates the process and does so with his usual verve and panache.
Posted in Islam, TV, Books & Movies | 1 Comment »
It seems there are many ways this debate can manifest itself. Here is a new one:
MUI may decide that swine is halal or haram, but as far as a vaccine is concerned, the institution which has the right and competence to assess its substance is the health ministry.
See here to read more about it.
Posted in History/Current Affairs, Islam, Law | Comments Off
There are 114 chapters to the Quran and many subjects are dealt within those chapters. Chief amongst these is probably the subject of conduct or adab of believing men or women vis a vis other men or women, their community and the world at large.
Modesty in Islam for Women
Consider for instance verse 31 from Sura’ Al Nur (Chapter 24 : The Light):
And say to the believing women
That they should lower
Their gaze and guard
Their modesty; that they
Should not display their
Beauty and ornaments except
What (must ordinarily) appear
Thereof; that they should
Draw their veils over
Their bosom and not display
Their beauty except
To their husbands, their fathers,
Their husbands’ fathers, their sons,
Taken at face value, it is clear from the above verse that there is a standard to be observed if a believing (Muslim) woman wishes to maintain her modesty. This much is beyond argument.
Tags: attire, Islam, modesty
Posted in Islam | Comments Off
A number of bloggers/friends to be/friends, Syed, Walski, Marina and Anas - after a (heavily caffeinated) get together a Coffee Bean on 1st. January, 2009 – are launching a brilliant blog campaign calling on blog readers, irrespective of race, religion or creed, to read the Holy Quran and (re)discover what Islam is all about and more importantly, what Islam is not about.
Posted in Islam | Comments Off
… per se is not blogworthy. But a Muslim supporting the theory of evolution and taking on Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar), famous for being an opponent of the theory of evolution, in debate is definitely blogworthy. Walk this way if you are interested.
UPDATE @ 18.07.2008 : Interestingly, there are quite a bit of polls on this issue (see here) and another which recently appeared in the July 21st, 2008 issue of Newsweek. The Newsweek poll confirms that in Turkey only 20 odd percent of those polled subscribed to the theory of evolution and about approximately 50% disbelieving it. Harun Yahya must be making more headway in that part of the world than we first imagined.
Posted in History/Current Affairs, Islam | 2 Comments »
Posted in Humour, Islam | 2 Comments »
Geert Wilders may be relatively unknown in this part of the world but the same cannot be said of him in Holland, where he is an elected representative to the Tweede Kamer (the Dutch House of Representatives) particularly known for his vociferous criticisms of the Islamic faith and his criticism that Holland practises a rather lax immigration policy.
Posted in History/Current Affairs, Islam | 9 Comments »
In the past decade or so, the Malaysian Government has taken the initiative to expand the scope and application of Syariah law in Malaysia. As a corollary to that questions are emerging regarding the rights of an individual Muslim vis a vis the community and whether Islam in Malaysia is pluralistic in nature or monolithic. This is particularly so when civil society movements have taken issue with some of the decisions emanating from the civil courts and even the Syariah Courts.
Frankly, I am supportive of the Government’s initiative particularly if it is pursued in the right spirit. The only concern I have is when an alternative discourse is presented, it is labelled as anti-Islam and more. Nevertheless, perhaps my concern on this score can be articulated on another occassion.
Averting once again to the purport of this post, it is simply to pose the following question:
Assuming that the Syariah prescribes a punishment for a particular offence, are Muslims bound to apply that punishment in an immutable way?
I just think that if that question is answered appropriately, it may assist in addressing some of the issues relating to individual rights vs communal rights and pluralistic (in the sense it is able to accommodate diverse views) Islam vs. monolithic (in the sense it adopts a rigid and singular view) Islam.
P.S. Hints of the answer to that question may be found from this lively debate organized recently by the Evening Standard.
Posted in Islam | Comments Off
Eid (lit. an Islamic public celebration) Al-Fitr is upon us. Like most things peculiar to Islam, the emotions evoked by the festival finds its voice through the Eid takbir which originates from a sunnah attributable to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
The words of the Eid takbir essentially glorifies God and such glorification is enjoined by various Quranic verses such as this:
“(He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful [lit. thankful].” (2:185)
Nevertheless, on the day of Eid Al-Fitr, there are a number of recommended acts of worship and observances practised over and above the recitation of the Eid takbir.1 Principal amongst these is seeking forgiveness from God and from one another.
The usual greeting in Malaysia is Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Maaf Zahir dan Batin. This literally means Happy Eid Al-Fitr and Forgive Me for My Transgressions, Seen or Unseen.
I am sure that during the course of my blog adventures here or through my conversations on other blogs, I may have offended someone. Well, whoever you are, I ask for your forgiveness. I am driven by my passion. I am human.
I am fairly sure I will repeat my errors. I am – as pointed out above – human. But rest assured that I will never fail to ask for forgiveness. Ultimately, I just wish to be Muslim – in the truest sense of the word. So Selamat Hari Raya. Maaf Zahir dan Batin.
Posted in Islam | Comments Off
Day 3 and we still have a long way to go. Anyone with a penchant for more Ramadhan related material, feel free to amble over to Beliefnet which features Shahed Amanullah, a Muslim journalist, blogging about fasting in America.
Those with an appetite for lighter fare, walk this way and take a peek at these images which have Ramadhan as its central theme …
Read more »
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