Followers

Monday, April 21, 2014

PAS’s ILL- CONCEIVED HUDUD MOVE by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

From media reports, it appears that the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) is determined to table a Private Member’s Bill in the June session of the Dewan Rakyat that will seek to facilitate the implementation of hudud --- the Islamic penal code --- in Kelantan. The implementation will be based upon the Hudud Bill adopted unanimously by the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly in November 1993.

I shall attempt to appraise the wisdom of doing this from three closely inter-related perspectives --- the concept of hudud in general and as enunciated in the Bill; the practice of hudud in other countries; and the local context in which hudud would be implemented.

The Concept.

The Kelantan Hudud Bill has been subjected to a comprehensive analysis in Muhammad Hashim Kamali’s Punishment in Islamic Law: An Enquiry into the Hudud Bill of Kelantan (Kuala Lumpur: Institut Kajian Dasar, 1995). Kamali, one of the world’s leading Islamic jurists, reveals in detail the weaknesses of the Bill, including those pertaining to its categorisation of hudud offences and how it contradicts the Quranic prescription on punishments and why it conflicts with the Malaysian Constitution and the Penal Code. All members of Parliament, from the government and the opposition, Muslims and non-Muslims, should digest the contents of the book before debating the PAS sponsored Bill.

They will realise that the PAS approach is focussed essentially upon modes of punishment and not upon the fundamental principle of justice which is the overriding concern of the Quran. When justice is one’s leitmotif one would first strive to ensure that the social ethos and the power structure conduce towards equity and fairness rather than preoccupy oneself with detailed descriptions of how different forms of punishment would be meted out. Besides, the concept of hudud --- or boundaries --- in the Quran has a much wider and deeper meaning and is not confined to its penal aspects. It is also employed in relation to fasting, family laws and inheritance and indeed embodies all of God’s teachings and guidelines. By over-emphasising punishment, PAS has also side-lined provisions on repentance and reformation which are crucial to all those instances in the Quran where punitive measures are mentioned in the context of specific offences.

The Practice.

It is not just the failure to appreciate the spirit of compassion and justice that accompanies legal provisions in the Quran that renders the PAS move to introduce hudud problematic. The party and others who subscribe to a similar view have not examined the realities surrounding the implementation of hudud. Most Muslim majority states do not provide for hudud. The most populous Muslim nation on earth, Indonesia, has not incorporated such a provision into its legal system though one of its smaller provinces, Acheh, has introduced elements of the Islamic penal code while retaining civil law in other areas. The change is drawing more and more criticism from within Achenese society itself. Turkey, one of the more prominent Muslim states today, with a leadership rooted in an Islamic movement, has stayed away from hudud laws. Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, among others, have not included hudud in their criminal justice systems. In some instances, their constitutions proclaim a general commitment to Sharia as “a way of life.”

Those countries which have sought to enforce hudud such as Afghanistan, Northern Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Sudan do not seem to have succeeded in reducing the very crimes that the law is meant for. In some of them, murder and robbery are still as rife as ever. Even if street-level theft has been kept in check in one or two cases, there is ample evidence of massive looting of the nation’s wealth by the elite for the elite. And yet the hands of these thieves are not cut off! It merely reinforces the point that it is not the mode of punishment that ensures justice but the ability of society to hold the powerful accountable.

If accountability and justice are still lacking in hudud-based societies, their parlous situation is further exacerbated by the plight of women and non-Muslims. In almost every one of the states that has embraced hudud laws, women have been marginalised both in their private sphere and in the public arena. In those countries where there is a non-Muslim minority, their space for expression and action often shrinks, in the wake of hudud enforcement.

The local Context.

This brings us to the situation in Malaysia. Since it is Kelantan that wants to implement hudud, it is pertinent to ask: how would the punishments prescribed in the hudud laws help to reduce various crimes in the state? In Kelantan, as in other states in Malaysia, a number of robberies and murders appear to be related to drug abuse. Unless this underlying cause is eliminated, it is unlikely that the crime rate will be reduced even if the modes of punishment are brought in line with hudud rules.

There is also another problem that Kelantan will have to address. Though its non-Muslim population is small, at about 5 percent, the state’s Buddhists, Hindus and Christians have the right to continue to be charged under the existing law which means that the state will have two sets of criminal legislation. As argued by some others, a Muslim and a non-Muslim charged for the same crime will have to be tried under two different jurisdictions and meted out two different sentences. One could be more severe than the other. Would that be just? Would that be morally right?

Equally serious, what would be the impact of this bizarre arrangement upon relations between Muslims and people of other faiths? Wouldn’t it lead to greater polarization at a time when we are already struggling with increasing communal polarization?

Conclusion.

In the ultimate analysis, the PAS bid to implement hudud in Kelantan is not just about its understanding of hudud. It is sadly about how the vast majority of Muslims in this country understand hudud. It is an understanding shaped largely by the interpretation of the ulama --- an interpretation that is literal and static.

This is why modes of punishment including those that have no basis in the Quran are perceived as sacrosanct. Malaysian Muslims forget that it is the underlying moral principle of right and wrong that is fundamental --- a principle which regards murder and robbery and adultery as eternally wrong. In order to do justice to the victims of these and other wrongdoings, every religion and every epoch has formulated modes of punishment which are often shaped by the prevailing social milieu.

If one fails to distinguish the contextual from the eternal, the ephemeral from the perennial, the universal message of religion will be lost. Great Muslim thinkers have cautioned Muslims about this through the ages. The illustrious eighteenth century theologian Shah Waliullah (1703-1762) for instance emphasised that “every age must seek its own interpretation of the Quran and the traditions.” He believed that, “One of the major causes of Muslim decay was rigid conformity to interpretations made in other ages.”

Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), the distinguished twentieth century poet-philosopher, was also of the view that in approaching the Sharia, “each generation, guided but unhampered by the work of its predecessors, should be permitted to solve its own problems in accordance with the level of its consciousness and the demands of the time.” Another reformer of repute, Ali Shariati (1933-1977), was equally critical of “traditional, formalistic Islam” and sought to liberate the religion from the grip of those ulama “who had imprisoned Islam by monopolising it.”

Here in Malaysia, Syed Hussein Alatas (1928-2007) had for many decades, through works such as Kita dengan Islam argued eloquently for an understanding of Islam that goes beyond the literal and connects with the essence of the faith. In an essay entitled, Al-Quran: Nilai dan Peraturan in Dewan Budaya (February and March 1980), I has also explored further the distinction between contextual rules and the eternal message. It explains why when PAS began pushing for hudud soon after it came to power in Kelantan for a second time in 1990, I raised the question, Hudud: Central to Islam? in a 1992 article which became a chapter in my Rights, Religion and Reform ( London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002)

Now that the issue of hudud has re-surfaced with even more serious implications for the nation as a whole, we should remind ourselves of the magnitude of the challenge that faces us. In Kamali’s words, nineteen years ago, “We either choose to retain the eternal message of Islam, uphold its civilizational ideals, and invest our energy in the task of reconstructing a society in that image or lower our sights only to see the concrete rules and specific details. This latter alternative … attaches higher priority to details and make them the focus of attention at the expense of the broader and more important objectives of Islam. Islam’s commitment to moral virtue, to justice, to equality and freedom … and to the promotion of humanitarian and compassionate values are of universal and perpetual significance. Failing to understand these will inevitably lead to the misapprehension and misinterpretation of Islam and its criminal justice.”

Sunday, April 20, 2014

English Isn't As Easy As You Think. This Guy Nails It by bluebell

You think English is easy?

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture..

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert..

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Have A Meaningful Vaisakhi - Monday in The STAR


                Mata Tripta Ji, the loving mother of Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Back to basics: Unity begins at home

When we speak of Unity, we immediately jump to the bigger issues like national policies, political leadership, economic action plans, social mechanics, etc. What many fail to realise is that like charity, Unity too begins at home.

We are all the product of our upbringing. The family that brought us up, the environment we grew up in, the friends we played with – these factors influence and affect the individuals that we have become today. Similarly, our children will go through this very same process and we need to ensure their path is a better one than ours.

As parents and adults, we need to realise that what we say to our children and what we speak among ourselves will be transferred to them. We may not have the slightest intent to be malicious, but we may express our views without thinking of the repercussions. Yes, we have our disagreements and issues, but we do not need to transfer them to the next generation.

Already, our children are separated by the schools they go to, the places they live in, as well as the places they play at. They have little chance to meet each other. As parents we must take conscious initiative to get them to mix. Choose a neighbour from a different background. Organise get-togethers with our multiracial colleagues. Share with them good things about the others. Create more opportunities for them to know, appreciate, and God-willing, to love each other.

The family is the most basic and most important unit in society. This is an area within our sphere of influence. We have the ability and capacity to do things right. We must start from the home. If we fail at home, we cannot blame anyone else but ourselves. Let us create homes that build Unity, so that our children will be more united than us.

At zubedy, our programs draw strength from shared values and traditions. We believe that at heart, all Malaysians want good things for themselves and for their brother and sister Malaysians, simply because our nation cannot prosper as a whole if some of us are left behind.


Let us be, first and foremost, Malaysians.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

6 Things Entrepreneurs Wish Family, Friends and Employees Understood BY Kevin Daum

I started my first company when I was 25.  I was a reluctant entrepreneur. My sales abilities outgrew three companies, and I couldn't seem to manage the politics necessary to get where I wanted to go at the speed I wanted to get there. So I took a deep breath, opened a company in 1989, and never looked back.
But in my journey of building four businesses and making the Inc. 500 list, I often found I saw the world differently then many in my circle. I would struggle with communication and empathy, as would the people around me. My family and my friends would never quite understand why I took action with such passion and drive. Though they would be continuously fascinated how I could make things happen from what seemed like unrelated connections and events.
Employees appreciated my drive, but still considered me a puzzlement. They couldn't imagine taking the risks and responsibility of building a company, and I couldn't imagine not having control of my own destiny.  I have spent decades in the close company of more than 1000 entrepreneurs in public session like Inc. conferences and in private forums like the Entrepreneur's Organization (EO). I have come to learn that we have similar ways of viewing the world and creating lifestyles. It's not for everyone, but it works for us.
If you are an entrepreneur, you need to articulate the six concepts below so the people in close proximity can comprehend your behavior. And for those of you engaged with an entrepreneur, I hope the tips below shed some light and give you some guidance to enjoy the ride.
1. Entrepreneurs are benevolent narcissists. There is no question that many entrepreneurs act as though they are the center of the universe. Once I get a vision in my head, it stays at the forefront of my mind until I either eliminate it or execute on it. Over time, I have learned that in order to make visions come true, I must constantly sell and recruit people to my mission. That means talking about my ideas and actions... a lot. So yes, my world revolves around my vision and ambition. That is the narcissistic part.
But unlike most self-centered people, most successful entrepreneurs aren't in it just for themselves. They love to bring other people along for the ride. Making others happy, wealthy and successful drives entrepreneurs. They create companies to benefit society with their products and services. They may interpret that benefit differently than most people, but few are motivated by pure exploitation.
Tip: The next time you feel ignored by an entrepreneur, ask them how you can get involved and benefit from their activities. You may be surprised at the opportunity that opens up.
2. Entrepreneurs evaluate risk differently. The term risk-taker is often associated with entrepreneurs. Most entrepreneurs don't believe they are taking risks by opening businesses and growing companies. Gone are the days of institutions that provide steady employment and guaranteed retirement. I personally lost everything in the 2008 collapse of the banking industry. But I have many friends who spent 30 years as employees in that field and also went through great hardship. I was able to rebuild by taking advantage of opportunity and being agile while many of them are still trying to reconstruct their lives.
Entrepreneurs know the only safety net they can bank on is their own ability to leverage knowledge, resources and relationships to build something from nothing. They believe there is greater risk in being boxed in to a structure than to venture out to new horizons. That all being said, many of us have learned to overcome our material desires and put a little away for those rainy days.
Tip: Don't assume that actions taken by entrepreneurs are careless or not well considered. If you have concern, ask about the process or diligence. You might be surprised what you learn.
3.  Once entrepreneurs decide to take action, they commit. There is an incorrect assumption about most entrepreneurs that they are impulsive. The image of people ideating all over the place and randomly straying from project to project is one that is constantly portrayed in media and is most often a mischaracterization. Most of my successful entrepreneurial friends are actually quite disciplined and focused. They have learned tocreate structure where there is none. They have a set process for evaluating opportunities and are wary about taking on a new project without vetting it carefully.
But once the due diligence is done and action is required seasoned entrepreneurs will commit all necessary time and resources to making the dream a reality. They have no tolerance for doing things halfway. The project may fail, but the entrepreneur will only be satisfied if it does on its own merits. Then it's time to learn and move on to the next entrepreneur.
Tip: Entrepreneurs in motion are a force of nature. Either get out of the way or support the activity whole-heartedly. Dipping your toe into their projects will only create static and dissatisfaction for everyone involved.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Unity Questionnaire


Dear Malaysians,

I am a member of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) -  a body entrusted to consult the government in matters of Unity and national integration.

I wish to gather feedback especially from the business and corporate community with regard to Unity. Businesses are the main engine that drives our nation's socioeconomic development. It is also at the workplace, which is a neutral ground, where Malaysians from all backgrounds work together. This is why it is important for us in the business world to provide feedbacks.

Accordingly, I need your help to:
  1. promote this initiative in your organisation;
  2. get the management to encourage your staff to answer;
  3. click on the link below to give your feedback; and
  4. spread the link to your contacts.



Together, we can make a difference.

Thank you and peace.


Let us add value,

anas zubedy

Double standards on Crimea by Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi - The STAR

Whichever superpower wins, Ukraine will be the loser of this East-West tug of war.
THE Russian incursion into Ukraine’s region of Crimea has, understandably, drawn strong critical response from the United States and the European Union. However, an impartial observer cannot fail to note the staggering hypocrisy evident in the Western response to Russia’s military actions.
International law: It is alleged that the Russian military intervention is a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty under international law. It probably is.
This is despite the fact that the Russian expedition was at the behest of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s democratically elected and unlawfully deposed President.
What is noteworthy is that Russia acted under grave provocation and in circumstances that the US would never tolerate.
Background: Since the end of the Cold War, the US has been encircling Russia with military and missile sites including one in Ukraine.
Nato has enlisted many former Soviet republics into its fold.
Russia is understandably sensitive about its Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine and Nato’s presence on its borders.
This is no different from President John F. Kennedy’s alarm when the USSR, under Nikita Khruschev, ins­talled missiles in Cuba in the Sixties.
In addition to military encirclement, a US organisation, namely the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), was operating in Ukraine and funding 65 projects, grooming replacements for President Yanuko­vych and resorting to psychological warfare.
The NED was founded in America in 1983 to promote its foreign policy objectives abroad.
In recent times Ukraine was mired in an economic crisis and Russia and the EU were in a bidding war to salvage it. Russia earmarked US$15bil (RM49bil) in economic assistance. The EU offered US$800mil (RM2.6bil) plus access to EU goods and services.
When Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych aligned with Russia against the EU proposal, the Western backed opposition took to the streets.
The US-funded National Endowment for Democracy was complicit in fuelling the disorder. Radical forces gained ascendency and violence begat violence.
Yanukovych, Ukraine’s democratically elected President, offered to set up a unity government, bring electoral reform, effect constitutional changes and call early elections.
Unfortunately, negotiations broke down. He was then ousted in a US-supported coup and replaced with US chosen stand-ins.
The Ukrainian Parliament then acted foolishly to enact a series of draconian laws offensive to ethnic Russians in provinces that were carved out of the old Soviet Union. Yanukovych sought Russia’s help to protect the ethnic Russian population.
Under these circumstances, the Russian Parliament authorised Russian President Vladimir Putin to deploy troops inside Ukraine to protect the Russians living there.