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.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Malaysia Airlines MH370

At this moment, my thoughts and prayers are with those on board the missing flight MH370 and all their family and friends.  I am still hoping for a miracle to happen.

Sand sculpture at Puri Beach, India
from the Facebook page "Malaysia Airlines MH370- Tribute"
What irks me about all this is that with 300 odd lives at stake, the people resposible just took their own b****y time to react.  A plane goes missing at 2.30 a.m. (even earlier than 1.30 a.m. by some accounts) and they only alert the rescue control center at 5.30 a.m.  What if their own family was on board?

Then they call for press conference after press conference - come prepared lah, don't let the journalists get the better of you.  From what I saw, the journalists were better informed than the panel.

I used to know a guy who was the PA for a federal minister.  Whenever his minister was to attend a press conference or any meeting for that matter, he would be frantically running around to prepare a brief which included answers to possible questions that may be posted.  Don't they have good PAs anymore these days.

They tell us not to speculate and the PM goes on to use the words like "bereaved" and "condolences".  What are we supposed to make of that?

To top it all we have the morons who, because they HAVE to say something, post the darnnest things on social media not at all bothered about the sensitivities involved.  And the bigger morons who actually share these postings.

When this is all over, and I hope and pray that it will end well, I think we need to evaluate our crisis management capabilities, even for us as individuals in our own homes.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Maulid Rasul - Should we or shouldn't we?

Part of the Prophet's Masjid showing the green dome
 above the final resting place of the Prophet SAAW
Today (14 Jan 2014) is a public holiday in Malaysia in conjunction with Maulidul Rasul or the Birthday of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Ah'lihi Wa Sallam).

Maulid has been celebrated here as far back as I can remember.  When I was younger I used to attend the Maulid recitals (poetry composed in honor of the Prophet SAAW) during the first 12 days of Rabiul Awal at Masjid India Kuala Lumpur.  I even took part in the Maulid procession that was held from Stadium Merdeka to Masjid Negara in those days.

These days there are some who speak against this practice of celebrating Maulid.  They claim that this is a new innovation (bida'ah).  They say that the Prophet SAAW nor his Noble Companions celebrated it, neither did any of the Imams of the Four Schools of Jurisprudence.

They go on to claim that this was started by the Fatimid Caliphs in Egypt who were Shiites.  This is probably true and for the same reasons why Governments today sponsor concerts i.e. to lull the population into a feeling of complacency and/or contentment.

To be fair to these people, no one knows when exactly the Prophet SAAW was born.  Various historians have proposed various dates.  They are not even agreed on the month.  While many give the year as 'the year of the elephant', there are those who place it a few years after or even before that year. I have read one narration claiming the birth occurred 15 years before the year of the elephant.

The only thing certain from authentic traditions (hadith) is the the Prophet SAAW was born on a Monday.  That was why he (SAAW) used to fast on Mondays.

Hey! Wait a minute, doesn't this mean that the Prophet SAAW did celebrate his (SAAW) birthday every week?  The Companions used to follow him (SAAW) as do many of us to this day.  So where does this "The Prophet SAAW and his Companions NEVER celebrated his (SAAW) birthday" come from?  If by "it" they mean that we should not be celebrating the Maulid only annually but on a more frequent interval, then I think we should all agree.

Maybe it is the poetry recital that these people are against.  I do not understand Arabic, so I have to rely on translations.  The poems for the most part trace the life of the Prophet SAAW and his achievements. In one or two places though the praise heaped on the Prophet SAAW is rather excessive.  I don't know if this is what the poet meant or if it's just what was understood by the translator.  Either way, the proper thing would be to correct the mistake rather than 'ban' the poem.

We are living some fourteen hundred over years from the time of the Prophet SAAW and it is always a good idea to re-connect with the Prophet SAAW by reading his SAAW seerah (life history) listening to lectures on it.  The Maulid celebrations provide an opportunity for this to happen.

One thing we are surely missing in our lives is the ADAB (often translated as 'good manners' and/or 'courtesy' but I think it means very much more than these) thought by the Prophet SAAW.  When we do that, all this bickering among ourselves will be a thing of the past.

Coming back to "Should we or shouldn't we?" I respect whatever your choice, but do have the adab to respect the choice of others who may differ from you.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The ALLAH Issue Again!

This time the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) has raided the Bible Society of Malaysia.  Even if there was a need for it, the reported high-handed manner in which it was carried out does not bode well for inter-ethnic, inter-religious relations in the country, and the raid itself could be illegal.

Then there is news that some political groups want to picket in front of churches.  The Police have issued a ‘stern’ warning against this, but considering the parties involved, we need to wait and see what happens and how the Police will respond.

As I have voiced out before the Islamic Authorities, both at Federal and State levels, seem to insult the intelligence of Muslims in the country.  They think that we are some sort of imbeciles who cannot think for ourselves and they have to do the thinking for us.

And just because the Christian God does not have a proper name, the Church should not be adamant in misusing words to insult other faiths, in this case Islam.  (The Arabic alphabet does not have upper and lower case letters, how is ‘allah’ written in the Arabic Bible?)

The only way forward, in my view, is for the Church to work with Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) to produce a Malay version of the Bible.  (If you have a better solution, please feel free to voice it.)

This will not only resolve the issue of the ‘Allah’ word, but all the words that are ‘banned’, not because “Muslims will get confused” as the authorities seem to think, but to maintain the integrity of meaning of those words.

When we want to say ‘The Late so-and-so’ in Malay, it is AlMarhum Tengku Abdul Rahman, Allahyarham Tun Abdul Razak, and Mendiang Tun Tan Siew Sin.  It is not about the person writing, it could be Johan or John, it is about the person referred to, whether Royalty, an ordinary Muslim or a non-Muslim.

Similarly, ‘Firman’ in Malay is exclusively for what Allah says in the Quran.  If it is something that the Prophet said, the word is ‘Sabda’.  The King ‘titah’ and the rest of us ‘kata’. (I hope you get where I'm going.)

If a non-Muslim is Guest of Honor at a breaking of fast ceremony, and in his/her speech, he/she decides to quote from the Quran, he/she should be able to say, “Allah berfirman dalam AlQuran…”  There is no ambiguity is what is said.

There are those who say that language is ever changing and meanings change with the times.  I am well aware of that.  A word, which, in my younger days, would have meant what a happy and jovial character I was, will only raise eyebrows if I described myself as such now.  I don’t think I want to see religious terms reduced to that level.