Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Origins" by Charles Darwin

I grew up in the belief that creation was opposed to evolution: man was either created by God OR he evolved from monkeys.  'Belief' according to Bucky, is when you let someone else do the thinking for you - lazy me!

Charles Darwin first published his book in 1859  with the title "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" and it has been available ever since.  I never had any intention of reading this book but for the fact that someone had translated this book into Malay and the Malaysian Authorities thought fit to BAN the translation, though not the original English.  (Read my post here.)  I had to read the book for myself.

I remember reading somewhere that "Origin of Species", Thomas Malthus's "An Essay on the Principal on Population" and Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" form the 'triumvirate' of Capitalism - now 2 other books on my 'to read' list.

I got the book on-line.  It's not easy reading, the language can be a little too technical for a 'lay-person' like me, but I persevered as I wanted to know how this book was going to affect my Islamic Faith.

I consider myself orthodox in matters of my Faith and I did not find anything in this book that would challenge that.  In fact, Darwin appears to be a deeply religious man (Christian though and not Muslim) in this book.  He does not challenge God as I have heard some accusing him of.

"... it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws."  

Nature according to him, is not necessarily the creative agent (i.e. God) but "the agent of an agent (God)".

There is also no mention in this book of man being descended from monkeys.  That is the subject of another book, "The Descent of Man" published in 1871.

An 1871 caricature following publication of The Descent of Man was typical of many showing Darwin with an ape body, identifying him in popular culture as the leading author of evolutionary theory.
(Image and caption from Wikipedia.)

Could it be that our Authorities were actually spooked by the sub-title of the book, "Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life"?  I wonder how it would have looked in translation.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

When Asking Questions is Dangerous

I came across this article in and I wanted to share my 2 sen worth here.

Wan Sulaiman Wan Ismail
(photo from
In my experience, people ask questions for one of two reasons - (1) they don't know something and are keen to know or (2) they are not really interested in knowing but want to show off as someone superior to the person being questioned.  There may be other reasons but I have no experience with those others.

The subject of the article, Wan Sulaiman Wan Ismail, is what some would call "Anti-Hadith" (I think 'name calling' makes it easier to demonize someone). 

Actually asking questions is encouraged in the Quran.  Even the Prophets asked questions of Allah.  Take the example of Prophet Ibrahim AS who wanted to know how Allah returns life to one who has died.  Was the Prophet Ibrahim AS of weak faith?

Logic, however, tells me that when I have a question I need to ask, I need to approach someone who would be in a position to answer.  When it concerns my heart (the organ in my body that pumps blood) I talk to a cardiologist not my GP, although the GP would be the first person I approach.

Similarly, concerning Islam talk to the 'experts' in the particular branch of 'religious knowledge' not the 'Ustadz Pondok' (village teacher).  More so when the Ustadz tries to stop you from questioning.

Coming back to the article, Wan Sulaiman (I am only inferring here) seems to have read the Quran.

".... Wan Sulaiman wanted to know the origin of the shahadah, which comes in two parts: to declare a Muslim’s belief in the oneness of Allah, and the acceptance of Muhammad as Allah’s prophet.
Indeed, a semblance of the first part was mentioned in the Quran, specifically verse 3:18. But one might ask: where did the second part come from?"

Verse 3:18 is verse 18 of Surah Al-Imran which translates as, "There is no god but He: that is the witness of Allah, His Angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice.  There is no god but He, the Exalted in Power, the Wise."

When he read that, how come he missed Surah Al-Fath verse 29,  "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; ……. " (48:29)

Translation from: The Meaning of the Holy Quran; Text, Translation and Commentary; by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. Published by Islamic Book Trust, Kuala Lumpur (2010 Reprint). (There are so many Abdullah Yusuf Ali translations that I need to be specific which translation I referred to.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Without Allah who will help? – Orang Asli Christians

The above title is the title of a post that appeared in the blog "uppercaise" (click here to read) which was adapted from the Malaysian Insider.  

In that posting, Bong Alang, the village headman is quoted as saying, "Without 'Allah' who is going to help us?  This is our history, how are we supposed to suddenly change God's name?"  

A picture of the hymnal (which was seized by the police but was subsequently returned) was also included in the post.

I find the headman's question a little strange and they have chosen to omit a comma in the  hymnal's title.  Why I think so?

Well according to the Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4 reads, "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one!" and also Mark 12:29, "... Hear, O Israel, the LORD our GOD is one."

The Al-Kitab translates the above verses as: "Dengarlah, hai orang Israel: TUHAN itu Allah kita, TUHAN itu esa!" (Ulangan 6:4) and "... Dengarlah, hai orang Israel, Tuhan Allah kita, Tuhan itu esa." (Markus 12:19)

Or does the headman use a different translation of the Bible?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Origin of Species

It was interesting to hear that the Malay translation of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is banned in Malaysia. (Read about it here.)
Image from Wikipedia
Even more interesting is the reason for the ban - "endangers public harmony" and "... it goes against Islamic teachings ...";  AND the ban only applies to the translation not the original English version.

I have only read an illustrated and abridged version of the book (comic book version) which I got at one of the Big Bad Wolf sales some years ago.  While the book has some interesting theories about 'natural selection' it did not actually disprove the 'creation theory' many people who believe in religion hold to.  At least that was what I understood then.

There is a saying that the sleep of a knowledgeable person is superior to the ritual worship of an ignorant one.  I'm sure the authorities here are also aware of that saying but are choosing to define knowledgeable and ignorant within very narrow limits.

I wonder what would happen if "The God Delusion" gets translated.  After all that he writes, the best Richard Dawkins can arrive at is 'God probably does not exist'.  To me that's another way of saying 'He probably does'.

Image from Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

End to the "Allah" issue?

"All right to use Allah", says the Sun quoting Selangor Executive Councillor for Islamic Affairs, Sallehin Mukhyi. (Read the report here.)

According to the report, Non-Muslims can use "Allah" provided it is not 'misused' such as to propagate other religions among Muslims.

Isn't propagating other religions to Muslims against our Federal Constitution, with or without use of the word "Allah"?

What about the misuse of the word in the Al-Kitab for god and gods (lower-case or small 'g')?  As far as I know, there is no 'allah' (lower-case or small 'a') in Malay or even in English. (I had to disregard spell-check.)  It is definitely not found in the Arabic Bible (Al-Kitab Al-Mukhandas) - there are no upper/lower case letters in the Arabic Language.

Arabic Bible
(from Google Images)

I found this on someone's Facebook wall (I've forgotten whose) some time ago and I think I'll share it here.  No special reason but you're free to think whatever you want.  I'm not responsible for your thoughts.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Malaysia Airlines MH370 again

From Malaysia Airlines MH370 - Tribute
on Facebook

I love a good story, and the speculations and conspiracy theories surrounding the disappearance of Flight MH370 provides for some awesome reading.  Don't get me wrong, my thoughts and prayers are still with those aboard that flight and their grieving families.  I am still hopeful of a happy ending.  I have a strong belief that miracles do happen.

Among all those stories, I am (or rather was) of the opinion that the only plausible theory was that of the Canadian pilot who thinks that the pilot of MH370 was turning back towards Langkawi but, for whatever reason, he was overcome and the plane probably crashed into the Indian Ocean.  The place to look for debris would be following the trajectory the plane would have taken flying over Langkawi.

A day after the Kajang elections, the Prime Minister announces that the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean and it is presumed that there are no survivors.  At this point there was no evidence one way or other, making me wonder how or why they came to this conclusion.

Soon after there are satellite images of 2 pieces of debris some 2,500 miles off Perth, Australia.  Then the number became more than 100 and rose to over 300.  Our oceans are indeed polluted.

Copied from
Looking at the map of the search area, the "Diego Gracia" theory suddenly seemed plausible, more so than the "Langkawi" one.  Then our Government had a moment of genius and the search area was moved away from that location.

After nearly one month, no evidence of a crash has been forthcoming.  Add to that the Prime Minister's use of "condolence" and "bereaved" even on the first day the plane was declared missing, are we to suspect some form of a cover-up with the tacit approval of the Malaysian Government.

Like they say, "the Plot thickens."

Do continue to remember the passengers and crew of MH370 and their families in your thoughts and prayers.