Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aidil Adha and its Significance

Since small I was told that Aidil Adha or Hariraya Korban is celebrated to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim's unflinching obedience to Allah by agreeing to sacrifice his beloved son Ismail as ordered by Allah in a dream. But as he was about to sacrifice the son, Allah replaced the latter with a ram (kibas). It is also celebrated to honor the WUKUF, the completion of the Haj procedures by the pilgims who flooded Mecca to do the Haj and become Hajis. After a special morning prayer and sermon (khutbah) on that day, camels. cows, bulls or goats are sacrificed and their meat distributed to the poor so that they can have a special feast and celebration.

Maybe I wasn't attending enough lectures, symposiums, khutbah etc on Islam or not reading enough of the 'kitabs' especially those written in Arabic and have not been translated into Malay or English. For whatever reasons, I've never really been told of the full significance of the first ten days of the month of Zulhijjah in the Muslim calender. All prayers, especially those in addition to the five compulsory ones as performed by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), all good deeds and gifts to the poor (sedekah), and especially two days of fasting on the 9th and 10th of the month, have very special significance. Fasting on the 9th day is equivalent to fasting for 1000 days while fasting on the 10th is equivalent ot fasting for 10,000 days. Moreover if fasting on the day of Asyura (10Muharram) can absolve your sins(dosa) for a year. fasting on the day of the WUKUF (10 Zulhijjah) can absolve your sins for two years.How come these assurances have not been widely discussed by the ulamas as they had done in regard to the significance of the korban? Or maybe it's just me who have missed such discussions.

Thank God that I finally know. It's no wonder that in Kelantan and Trengganu, the Aidil Adha is celebrated with more pomp and ceremony than the Aidilfitri. Even the Federal Government does not seem to recognize the full significance of Aidil Adha since more emphasis is given to the Aidilfitri. Of course there seems to be more reason for celebration in Aidilfitri for it ends 30 days of fasting, not ten or just two days, plus the special prayers ( tarawih) at night for the whole month of Ramadhan. But even after another six days of fasting ( puasa sunat), one is considered to have fasted for a year -- not 1000 or 10,000 days for fasting one or two days. That's a real grand bonus which all Muslims would not want to miss. This has never been emphasized in the ceramahs and khitbahs that I've listened to.

Anyway, today (26th Nov,)is the 10th day of Zulhijjah. Tomorrow is the day that we in Malaysia celebrate Aidil Adha. Selamat Hariraya Aidil Adha ( or Hariraya Haji/Korban) to all Muslims. May you be blessed with all the special bonuses that it brings by performing all the ibadah that it prescribes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"AWAN" came to us...

It was a beautiful. bright morning. When I opened the front door and grill to go out and feed the fish, a mother cat and her baby greeted me with a look as if to say. " Can you please help us." I just smiled and proceeded to feed our fish, some little fries in a large earthen bowl under the porch and a small pool of large Japanese carps at the back of the house. When I returned to the door, the mother cat has gone away leaving the poor kitten staring shyly and quite frightened between the grill and my car.

I held out my hand saying softly, "Here kitty. kitty,come to me", in the most friendly voice that my vocal chord could produce. And, after hesitating for awhile as if to evaluate my intention, it came slowly and cautiously towards me and licked my hand. Boy. I fell in love with the kit instantaneously. I remember seeing some kittens before, brought by the same mother. The moment I approached them, both mother cat and the kittens scrambled away. This one remained and made me feel so...wanted.

I had no choice but to take it to my room, got some fresh milk from the fridge and tried to feed it. No it wouldn't lick the milk from the saucer. I took a handkerchief, rolled a corner and dipped it into the milk and tried to push it into its mouth. After tasting what smeared its lips, it looked at me with a surprised look and licked my hand.

That was it. When my wife returned home we took it to a veterinary clinic, and was given a thorough medical check-up. The kit is a "he" and only a few weeks old. I registered his name as Awan - the cloud. He had come to us as a surprise and we just love him. The little video clip we made of him can say better than my blog. Sorry if the production is below substandard. Some of the writings came out so small and I just couldn't find the right button to enlarge them. Any advice would be welcome.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Toll Oh Toll.......

People have complained before about the rates we have to pay at the toll gates all over the country. The toll charges for a journey from Penang to JB can easily be more than the cost of filling up your car tank. The authorities of course keep saying that the rate we pay is still one of the lowest in the world. I'm not going to argue about that anymore for we all know that the alternative to a higher rate would be a higher govt. subsidy to the concessionaires.

What bothers me more now is the number of toll plazas we've to pass through and make our payments, as little as a ringgit each time or less. How many times do you have to stop, join the que and make your payment if you travel from KL to Taman Tasik Perdana in Puchong, for example? Or from Sungai Pencala to Seremban following the LEKAS route? Only the Smart Tag or the Touch N Go can help to reduce the frequent botheration.

Is there no way at all to just pay once or twice by indicating where our destination is at the first toll gate? What's most irritating is when the driver in front of you stops a long while to grope around for coins, count the changes in hands or just received, or waits for the partner besides him or her to hand over the money, when the queue is so long and tedious. Worst is when someone tries to cut into the queue, edging in bit by bit and pushing you away with a big or a very expensive car or a boneshaker while yours isnew and very precious. I haven't so far seen any officer on duty at the toll giving such a driver a little reminder or a police officerenforcing the rule against jumping the queue.

Another iritation is when you see a number of gates witrh red lights while the queues are getting longer and longer and impatient drivers are cutting accross whenever they feel the line next to them is moving faster. This happens even close to the coned are where a single file is compulsory. Again i've never seen anyone taken to task for such hooliganism.

Well, the Malaysian road manners have been much talked about and they don'st seem to improve. Thousands upon thousands of summons for traffic ofences have been issued as more traffic police officers pour onto the road, more and more ops sikap are mounted with an increasing death rate every year. I think these things will go on if the Police is more interested in collecting more fines than making people aware of their bad road habits or the danger they caused by violating certain regulations. The rouble is people can pay the fines imposed and forget about the danger they have caused to others, even if they themselves don't mind getting injures or killed.

The Police must come up with something more effective than just imposing a fine, Say this and I'm sure they will think of jail sentences or revoking your driving licence. That's causing difficulties and sufference, not educating, making people aware of their mistakes or lack of concern for others. The easy way out by punishing people is not always the most effective way. Maybe traffic offenders can be asked to mend or sweep the road wearing a specific uniform. When other road users laugh at them, then they wil feel very embarassed or shameful. I certainly don't want ot see my kids or friends launghing at me as I sweep the road as punishment for a traffic offence.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mutual Respect ( A reflection)..

When discussing issues affecting national unity, the question of mutual respect always takes center stage. Behind all allegations and charges that one party has insulted the feelings of the other, there's always the element of mutual provocation, whether we accept it or not. Most often one party feels the provocation involved more than the other and we tend to minimize or even fail to recognize the seriousness of our own failures to observe certain basic principles in mutual respect.

When this happens, misunderstanding and misgiving start to sprout like weeds after the rain. Accusations start to accumulate, each party trying to justify its own stand, often increasing the seriousness of the insult or violation of the basic principles of mutual respect. Emotions flare up and reason takes a tumble. When this happens the negative forces of multiracialism in a society can easily tear the society apart.

For this reason we Malaysians as the citizens of one nation - 1 Malaysia - must constantly check our understanding of the concept of mutual respect. We must be ready to check our tendency to blame others more than ourselves, our tendency to magnify the failures,connivances or provocations of others more than our own. We must be ready to reexamine our own attitude, assumptions, belief and even community values.This is fundemental to restoring mutual respect, trust and goodwill to maintain and promote national unity.

Having said that let's take a quick look at some of the issues which threaten national unity in this country as a result of a failure in mantaining mutual respect. The national language issue related to its official use and education, religious freedom as against the need for Muslims to adhere to the Sunnah wal-Jamaah and protect the aqidah, the supremacy and purity of Allah from abuse , the basic rights of citizens under the Constitution as held against the need to preserve the right of bumiputeras and prerogatives of the royalties etc., had always been at the center of many controversies, polymics and and emotional outbursts. Charges like 'ketuanan Melayu', ' minority groups being marginalized, opposition parties being persecuted, the rights of non-Muslims being eroded, the violation or infraction of the law by the rich and powerful being condoned etc can cause the sparks of distrust and hatred to start flying around.

Only the breeze and atmosphere of mutul trust and respect can prevent such sparks from flaring up into a bush- or even forest-fire. Such mutual trust and respect must be based on the evidence of peace and harmony that this country has enjoyed in the past. The horrible memory of the May 13th incident for those who witnessed it and the stories told to those who didn't, should suffice to make us want to preserve that peace and harmony. Yes, problems will crop up, disagreements will arise within and between the racial groups that make up our people, the political parties will continue to bang each others heads and twist tails as they are wont to do to gain dominancy in runnung the affairs of the state, laws will continue to be violated by those driven by greed and ceiminal tendencies, the hands of the law must continue to be harsh in order to equal the brutality of the criminals and maintain order. But so long as we maintain a mutual respect and trust of each other as the relatively peaceful history of the country after merdeka has proven, we will still be okay. We can fight for what is just and fair, but we don't shed our respect for each other as Malaysians.

We may even dislike certain leaders. But when the people have chosen them to lead, we must respect the common weal. Criticize the decisions they make that we don't agree with but respect the reasons why those decisions were made and show the public other alternatives that could be pursued in solving a certain problem. The right to make the final decisions of course remains with the leaders whom the people have chosen. When we don't respect that right, we're throwing away respect for the Malaysians as a whole and tryuing to force through our own interest.

Let's ponder about this for a moment. I think bloggers need to do some deep, abstract thinking too, and not just ride on the popularity of certain political views, pro or contra, to gain mileage for your own popularity.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Malaysian Theatre

I'm not much of a theatre goer before. But after watching shows like The Siamese Twin ( the name was different) a long time ago, then Puteri Gunung Ledang, P. Ramlee the Musical, and Cuci the Musical just a few days ago, all staged at Istana Budaya, I think we're now moving towards the era of theatrical performance closer to the standard of The Cats, Les Miserables,The Westside Story etc. You certainly don't feel the pinch in your pocket coughing out a few hundred ringgit, when the show really gives you and your family members a good moral and aesthetical experience. Cuci the Musical had us all in stitches while the
moral of the story came accross very forcefully though couched in humour and bone-tickling ad libs.

I can see that Malaysians of all denominations are also becoming more theatre savvy. No more rows of empty seats like before.
Perhaps they are getting a little tired or saturated by the TV and the celluloids. Don't want to comment on the quality of the shows on TV at his point but the modern ' TV dramas' are certainly becoming more and more streotyped, giving us more of the same every night. What I wonder is whether 'going to the theatre' means something more to the Malaysians than going to the cinema, We hear of people dressing up for the theatre in the western countries, like going to the Ball or some exotic functions.Even to attend wedding ceremonies. That seems to make the difference to me. There's more in going to the theatre than to the cinema. In the theatre we can see and admire the audience, their special dress and plumes, their ornaments and ostentations. Hey, in the west bachelors can even survey the crop of young ladies with cultural taste and social standing in the theatre. Are we into this yet or do the bachelors prefer to pick up their future partners at the clubs and socials, the supermarkets and the shopping malls?

But one thing I found out with a shock from my theatre going experience is that the bad road-side manners of Malaysians can be carried over to the theatre's parking lot or its vicinity. In out haste to get into the theatre on time, cars are double or triple parked, one behind the other and beside each other. After the show the owner of the car which came first has no way of getting out until the other cars are moved away.. But the owners don't bother to hurry up, and in the malady that I faced, he (or she) didn't show up even after 20 minutes. It was drizzling and we just could not get out until a few cars around us moved away. The one behind us remained there even after we succeeded in getting out by making several liitle turns, guided by people getting wet in the drizzle.

My son was really furious over the lack of concern for other people and wanted to leave behind a good scratch mark on the offending car or just smash a window, loosen the handbrake and push it away onto the middle of the road. It took some effort to cool him down, inspite of the drizzle. Some of us really don't care about others when driving or parking our cars. I wonder if this habit will ever change, like our attitude towards the theatre.

Yeah, the theatre can really teach us something or more importantly reflect some of our undesireable behavior like refusing to clap our hands at the end of a scene, talking loudly while the show is on, refusing to stand up to allow others to get to seats deeper in the row, rushing out at the end of the show knocking others like tenpins etc. In the carpark, double or tripple parking is one thing. But not moving your car away quickly after the show is another.

It appears that the cinema-show culture is being carried over by many Malaysians to the theatre. If this doesn't change I think places like Istana Budaya will soon become like the usual cinema hall where the dim light and total darkness do not give any credit to dressing well and a cultured behavior.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Prophet Muhammad's Life to be Filmed

NST reported this on Wednesday, Nov.4 p, 26. Immediately I thought that this could never be a venture by the Muslim filmakers, especially from Malaysia. The Company or the man behind it would be facing an avalanche of criticisms and warnings or even threats, that the idea would be killed before it can be promoted,

But when Holywood wants to do it, no one can say anything. Especially since it's going to be produced by Barrie OSBORNE, producer of THE LORD OF THE RINGS and MATRIX. That ensures us that it's going to be a breathtaking epic, bigger than life, more profound than common human logic and reasoning can accommodate, and full of scenes that will baffle the audience. In other words we can be sure that the cinematographic and performance quality will be of the highest order, especially with a budget of US150 million. Plans for the English-language film were annouced at the Doha Tribeca Film Fest in Qatar on Sunday Nov1.

It's comforting to know that in accordance with Islamic tradition, the film will not represent the prophet himself or direct members of his family. Most probably only their voices will be heard. Even that makes me very anxious. Who will render the voice of the Prophet, although it'll be in English? More importantly, who'll advise on the storyline and the selections of scenes to be portrayed? The man will be none other than ulama Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi ( Prof. Dr. Yusuf Abdullah al-Qardhawi), the prolific and controversial ulama who is banned from entering Britain.

Hopefully truth and authenticity will predominate over the interest to make the film appeal to world audiance. While Ulama Yusuf Qaradawi is quite a liberal ulamak I wonder whether he will agree to any dialogues that deviate from the hadith ( sayings of the Prophet). Shooting will begin in 2011. I'm sure the whole Muslim world will be waiting for this epic. My only hope is that it'll not be banned by the Muslim countries for I'm certain that many controversies and disagreements will arise. Any other people attempting to make the film outside of Holywood might not succeed at all in producing it.