Thursday, February 24, 2011

A New Wave of Rising Expectation

First President Hosni Mubarak was ousted out by the force of the common citizen. Then President Zine el-Abdine Ben Ali faced the indignance of the Tnisians. Now Mohamed Ghadafi, oncce the King of Kings in Africa is facing the brewing storm of frustration and discontentment among some of his people. The tidde of rising dissatisfaction and dissappointment seems to be spreading fast in the African countries including Zimbabwe, Ugganda, Cameroon and Senegal. The same is happening in the Saudi Arabiah States of Bahrain and Yemen.

Is this an indication of a new wave of rising expectation and disappointment with the authority that stays too long in power, no matter how fair and benevolent the current leaders think they are, or

It looks as though many of the Muslim or Muslim-preponderant States are being swept by a sudden realization that there is a limit to patience as a part of faith. They are willing to pay obeisancce and be loyal to the authority that rules them in line with the Islamic teaching ' Atiullah waati urArasul was ulilamri minkum,' onnly up to a certain point. After more than 20 years of such rule without any sign of a willingness to give the people a voice tto determine their own leaders and have a say in the government, they will protest and force through a change. They want a say in selecting the Ulilamri - their leaders.

What has happened and is happening now shpuld be seriously heeded by the authoritative leaders that now rule the country no matter how benevolent and fair they think they are. Democratic meeasures must be introduced to allow the people to have a say in selecting their leaders and formulating the policies of governmentt. On the one hand we have good old US of A trying to force democracy in the oil-rich countries (its own brand of course) ) while on the other the Muslims are no longer happy with the teaching "hear and obey" - samikna waathakna. They feel thaat the ummah should have a say in the running of government, especially when the majority of the people remain poor and empoverished after more than twenty years of autocratic rule while the leaders and previleged groups in the country live in wealth and luxury.

The government must immediately looekd at the participation and thee sharing of power to govern with the people, though the form of democracy as espoused by the US need not be the only altlternative to follow. What is most important is that the wealthy leaders should not be seen as enjoying the wealth of the country by themselves without a fair and convincing plan for distributing the wealth to the people.

Have such a plan, convince the people that the plan is being actively ppursued, that the wealth of the country is being shared with them and that they are geeting a very fair share of the wealthh...and things could remain stable and calm. Wealth and luxury are highly visible while mild empoverishment and relative poverty cound be invisible. But they will ultimately rear their ugly face in the country ad people will protest. Better do something beefore the wave of rising disappointment and expectation sweep over the country. No matter how fair and benevolent the currennt government think it is, if it has been in power for more than twenty years without being able to bring about a visible transformation towards a life of comfort and prosperity for the masses, watch out. The tide of angry protest and disappointment will surely come sweeping by.

The new wave of rising expectation can come to your shore, sooner than you think. It's better to throw in the gear of change now. .

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Nation One Nationality...

There's only one Malaysia and the nationality of its citizens is Malaysian. But the Malaysians can be of different racial origins, embracing different religious faiths and practicing different cultural norms and habits beside the overriding Malaysian cultural mix. Thus we have UNITY IN DIVERSITY. Other nations too have the same national and cultural identity. One national identity but made up of several religious and socio-cultural ingredients.

What's wrong with that? It's true for the US, the UK and other European nations, USSR, Indonesia, Singapore etc. The national identity remains intact and well-respected without any attempt to integrate all the religio-socio-cultural mix into one common
entity loosing all original costituent textures, shades and colors.

While socio-cultural differences can be slowly overshadowed by a strong overarching national culture which evolves through the years, to put all the citizens of a state under one religious faith is an impossibility. In the context of Islam, it is even ludicrous since the Ummah ( followers of the Islamic faith) can only be a Muslim with total subjugation to Allah and His Prophet, Muhammad SAW. Those who don't accept and pronounce the shahada ( Asyshadu anlaillaha illallah waasyhadu anna Muhammad ar-RasuAllah), cannot be considered as an Ummah. As such the slogan Satu Malaysia Satu Ummah must be understood with the limitation of the religious requirement, although the integrative potentials and aspirational aspects of such a call is great.

While all nations aspire to create a single, solid and homogeneous entity, heterogeneity is a fact of life. Allah Himself stated in the al-Quran that He created men with different races and descendants so that they may learn from each other. If Allah has willed it so how presumptous it is of men to want everyone in a country to assume only a single identity? They can only coexist and live together under the same leadership, nationhood, ideological conviction, political and socio-economic regime. But their religious faith, native culture and customs can remain different though under one overarching national identity. Thus we still see the differences among people from different racial and cultural origins in the US, UK, Indonesia or elsewhere although they are all Americans, English, Indonesians etc. Malaysians would also be the same. It is the rights, the privilages, the pride and the security of being the citizen of a nation-state that hold the people together, not necessarily their religious and cultural orientation or their political views.

Thus i Malaysia is a beautiful clarion call for all Malaysians to work together, develop the country and live in peace and harmony. But it cannot be equated with one ummah for we are multiracial and multicultural. What is needed is more goodwill between ummah and non-ummah. More importantly. the ummah - those professing the Islamic religion- must not allow themselves to be torn apart by party and political interest. You'll all answer to the same God - Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala. The breakup, ill-feelings and enmity between and among the ummah, can be more destructive than the social ills of society as a whole. Let the ummah in Malaysia consolidate themselves and the ideals of i Malaysia can be achieved more easily.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The realities of life....

Life is always a changing mosaic - a fast moving collage of happenings that often leaves us breathless. Do we and can we understand everything that happens before our eyes. Anyone who can categically answer ' Yes' is either a presumptious omniscient or an egoistic ignoramus. What we can understand is only life as we shape it for ourselves, as we understand and picture it in our mind. The real life out there could be far diiferent from what we thought it to be.

Everyone has his or her own image of life and what it should be like. That's the sum total of our ideals. Can two or more people have the same ideals.? Of course you can but only up to a certain point. Beyond that we all have our differences. It is the sharing of certain common ideals that brings people together as friends and colleagues. Different ideals and ideas about life will keep them apart.

That's quite natural . What's not natural is the fact that people having the same ideals and ideas about life have different understading or impressions of the real world as it exists today. They see different achievents of their ideals and experience different levels of satifaction or frustration. The gaps between what they hope for in their ideals and what they see as being achieved in real life are different. What others see as having been achieved they don't see it as such. Even though things have changed they don't see the changes. That is because the image of the world in their mind has not changed one little bit.

This is a very important factor in bringing people together in a society, especially in a multiracial one. The real world as we see it might have changed tremendously but not to them because the picture of life in their minds have not changed. Lets illustrate this phenomenon with a few examples.

The social status of the blacks in the United States has changed tremendously with the election of Obama to the White House. But some people in the world and maybe in the US itself see no change. In Malaysia the status of the non-Malays has changed tremendously after Merdeka and especially now after so many non-Malays occupied keys positions in the government. Yet to some there has not been much changes and the non-Malays are still being treated as a second class citizens. It is something in their minds which has not changed.

The most difficult change to appreciate in the world is the change in religous tolerency. Education has made people more appreciative of each other as friends and colleagues in spite of religious differences but some people still see religion as the root cause of all divisiveness in a multiracial society. Every disagreement, conflict or enmity between racial groups is traced back to religion though people with different religious beliefs have been living together for ages without serious conflicts.

Islam today, for example is still equated by some people with backwardness, intolerence, aggressiveness belligerence, and brutality.The brutality of the suicide bombers for example is seen as more diabolical than the killing of thousands of Muslims in Afghanistans, Iraq, the Palestine , Bosnia-Herzegovina, and various other places in the world. It matters little that some Muslim leaders have become the prime movers of peace initiative in the world. The picture of muslims' brutalities in the war of the Crusades and during the Caliphate years still filled their minds and so every evil thing happening in the world is dumbed on the Muslims. This is the stand of those with an Islamophobiac view of the world,

Undoubtedly some Muslims also carry indeletable images of the attrocities that the west had done to their county and their people. Thus they refuse or fail to see what good the west had brought to them, no matter how beneficial the changes brought about by their interaction had been. This is the stand of the xenophobes. But note that xenophobia is a hatred of strangers, not necessarily of westerners or of Christians as such. There's no word for a hatred of Christians comparable to Islamophobia. Good Muslims are prohibited from hating a fellow human being, but there could be xenophobes around.

These people are the greatest stumbling block that the world faced in trying to seek peace between the East and the West. The islamophobes and xenophobes carry a picture of the old world in their heads whiich had never changed in spite of the various changes that have taken place in modern times. Until they change the picture in their head they can never accept the realities of today and accept the fact that God had made the world not just for people of their own racial origin and faith and that others have as much right as they have, no matter how poor or powerless they are as compared to them . It is the image of the world in our heads which prevent us from accepting the world as it is today with people of all racial origins and faiths living and working together in peace and harmony.