Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fatwa on Yoga

I received an sms asking about my take on the fatwa (Islamic Religious Edict) regarding yoga.

I’m sure no authority on Islam, but I’m a ‘practicing’ Muslim and have read a little about Hinduism. I suppose that this qualifies me to throw in my '2 sen' worth.

Issuing a fatwa is a great responsibility. In Islamic history, many a leading scholar has chosen to spend time in prison rather then issue a fatwa. So when someone or a group issues a fatwa, they must have considered it in great depth before deciding on it.

In my understanding of Hinduism, God is not only the immanent cause, but also the material cause of creation. (
To explain this concept of immanent and material cause, lets take the example of a clay pot. The potter is the immanent cause of the pot, as he/she is the maker. The clay is the material cause as the pot is made out of clay.)

To put it another way, God created creation using Himself as the material from which creation originates i.e. everything is God.

Therefore, when a Hindu greets another by putting both his/her palms together, he/she is actually saying, “I worship you.”

Now to yoga - they say that it’s all right, as long as there are no chants or mantras involved.

From a Muslim viewpoint, invoking any other than Allah amounts to shrik (associating others with Allah) and is THE gravest of sins in Islam. Some even say that reciting specific verses of the Quran (i.e. when used just like a mantra) to obtain specific results may amount to shrik, if it does not have the sanction of Hadith or Sunnah (i.e. the teachings and practices of the holy prophet - peace and blessing be upon him.)

A Muslim going for yoga, does not normally involve himself/herself in chants and mantras. He/She only follows the exercise routines, so where’s the problem?

Yoga has been developed over the centuries by yogis to purify themselves and to achieve union with God. The movements, postures, breathing techniques and everything else associated with yoga are to serve this objective.

If there is one similarity between Islam and Hinduism, it’s that both do not distinguish between what is sacred and what is secular.

How does one distinguish between the religious (sacred) aspect of yoga and the ‘just exercise’ (secular) aspect of it?

Me? I prefer walking.

Indonesian Election

I was shopping in the Chow Kit area, when I saw what looked like a political party’s campaign office. Well it was a campaign office, just not belonging to one of our party’s, but an Indonesian one.

When I asked, the election is scheduled for April 2009 and with a sizable Indonesian population here, campaigning is already on-going.

Indonesia is a republic with a presidential system and power is concentrated in the national government.

The president of Indonesia is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the director of domestic governance, policy-making, and foreign affairs. The president appoints a council of ministers, who are not required to be elected members of the legislature.

The highest representative body at national level is the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR). Its main functions are supporting and amending the constitution, inaugurating the president, and formalizing broad outlines of state policy. It has the power to impeach the president.

The MPR comprises two houses; the People’s Representative Council (DPR), with 550 members, and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), with 128 members.

The DPR passes legislation and monitors the executive branch; party-aligned members are elected for five-year terms by proportional representation.

The DPD is a new chamber for matters of regional management.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Interesting Snippet

When George Washington took command of the US Continental Army the flag he used was that of the East India Company. By coincidence the flag had 13 red and white stripes. As the blue rectangle in the left corner consisted of the British Union Jack, GW replaced it with 13 five pointed white stars.

While the British lost the 1776 war, the East India Company's owners (who constituted the real power behind the British government) not only did not lose, but moved right into the new USA economy.

Interesting. Get rid of the British, but hold on to the emblem of British power.

(Source : CRITICAL PATH by R. Buckminster Fuller)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An inspring story

(email received from a friend)

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: 'I am blind, please help.' There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.

Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were.

The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, 'Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?'

The man said, 'I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.'

What he had written was: 'Today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it.'

Do you think the first sign and the second sign were saying the same thing? Of course both signs told people the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people they were so lucky that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective?

Moral of the Story: Be thankful for what you have. Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively. Invite others towards good with wisdom.

Live life with no excuse and love with no regrets.

When life gives you a 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have 1000 reasons to smile.

Face your past without regret.
Handle your present with confidence.
Prepare for the future without fear.

Keep the faith and drop the fear.

Great men say, 'Life has to be an incessant process of repair and reconstruction, of discarding evil and developing goodness. In the journey of life, if you want to travel without fear, you must have the ticket of a good conscience.'

The most beautiful thing is to see a person smiling!!

And even more beautiful is, knowing that you are the reason behind it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stunning senior moment

(forwarded to my email by a M&Y graduate)

A self-important college freshman attending a recent football game took it upon himself to explain to a senior citizen sitting next to him why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation.

“You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one”, the student said, loud enough for many of those nearby to hear.

“The young people of today grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, man walking on the moon. Our space probes have visited Mars. We have nuclear energy, ships and electric and hydrogen cars, cell phones, computers with light-speed processing and more.”

After a brief silence, the senior citizen responded as follows: “You’re right, son. We didn’t have those things when we were young. ….so we invented them. Now, you arrogant little s**t, what are you doing for the next generation?”

The applause was amazing ……….

Cracker Chicken Puff - the recipe

2 medium potatoes, cubed fine
1 carrot, cubed fine
chicken fillet, cubed fine
milk (fresh, full cream, low fat – your preference) about 1 cup

shallot (grind in blender) about 4 table spoons
garlic (grind in blender) about 2 table spoons
white pepper power (according to taste)
salt (according to taste)
corn flour (as jelling agent)

oil for cooking and for deep frying

cream cracker biscuits
(Any brand will do, but I prefer Jacobs.)
eggs for coating the crackers before frying

Note of warning – I cook for fun. Measurements are not scientific. Use your own judgement.

To cube the potatoes, carrot and chicken, first cut into matchstick size strips. (For the benefit of the high – C’s, I’m referring to the ‘flying man’ brand matches.) Then cube them, i.e. really small cubes.

First heat oil in wok and deep fry the potatoes until it turns light brown. Remove and place on kitchen rolls to blot excess oil. The potato needs to be fried so that the filling remains good longer.

Leave a little oil in the wok and fry shallot and garlic paste until fragrant. Add the carrots and fry till soft. Add the chicken. When chicken is cooked, add the fried potatoes. Pour in the milk and cook until it is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the corn flour with a little milk and add to the wok. This is the gum that holds everything together.

While the mixture is still hot, scoop some on to a cream cracker biscuit.

Spread it and cover with another cracker. (The filling has to be hot for the crackers to stick.) Remove any excess filling that is sticking out between the crackers.

In a bowl, beat eggs. Mix some corn flour with a little milk and add to the beaten eggs.

Dip the prepared crackers in the egg barter and deep fry until it turns a golden brown. Remove and let it cool before cutting into triangles.


Now don't forget to invite me!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Halal / Haram

The Holy Quran in Sura (Chapter) At-Taubah (Repentance) says:

They (the Jews and Christians) have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks …..” (9:31)

Once while Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was reciting this verse, Adi bin Hatim said, “O Allah’s Messenger! They do not worship them (i.e. the rabbis and monks).” Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) replied, “They certainly do. They (i.e. the rabbis and monks) made lawful (halal) things as unlawful (haram), and unlawful things as lawful, and they (the Jews and Christians) followed them; and by doing so, they really worshiped them.”
(Narrated by Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Jarir)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cracker Chicken Puff

a perfect tea-time snack

(recipe coming soon)

What is Islam?

From a very young age, I’ve been taught about the Articles of Faith (Rukun Iman) and the Pillars of Islam (Rukun Islam). For me, that is the basis of my belief, and I reckon that makes me a Muslim. I have never been asked to explain myself and I have been happy in my ‘ignorance’.

That is until someone asked me the question, “What is Islam?”

Normally, I would have told him about the Pillars of Islam, and that would be that.

But this was someone who wanted to know about the essence of Islam. And I could feel that he was sincere in his quest of Truth.

I am what most would call a ‘practicing Muslim’. I know the attestation of faith – the syahadah. I pray the way I have been taught to pray. I fast during Ramadan. I give charity. I observe the korban (sacrifice). And I am registered to perform the Hajj in the next few years.

So it looks like I’m only a Muslim by the rituals that I observe, a ritualistic Muslim. Am I a Muslim in spirit too? In essence?

I think I can only answer my friend when I have answered this question to myself first.

I've arrived on blogsphere

During one seminar I attended, I informed everybody present that I want to write a book. My friend, Danic, who was there with me, keeps reminding me of that.

Then you have FJ, another friend of mine (who says that I reminder him of a philosopher), who says that I should at least write and maintain a web log. The entries can be collected to form the basis of the book that I could write.

Then I remembered this profile that I created in ‘Blogger’ so long ago. I think its time I do some blogging, if for no other reason, it’ll at least keep Danic and FJ from hounding me.

So today you can say, “I’ve arrived.”