Thursday, July 2, 2015

Travel :)

Why Pay More Attention to AURAT when the Quran asks us to focus on TAQWA (Righteousness)?

In the ongoing debate about dress code, we may be barking at the wrong tree.

The Quran sets clear guidance on what is the best of clothing. The more Muslims follow the Quran, the more guided we are. When we don’t, we are simply straying away from Allah. We need to be clear on what the Quran wants us to pay attention to, and act accordingly.

The Quran states clearly in the following verse that the best of clothing is dress code of Righteousness. Paying attention to Righteousness is considered a sign from Allah. Paying attention to other than that of Righteousness is considered not remembering Him.

“O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness - that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember.”
Quran 7:26

In another verse below, the Quran equates nobility to Righteousness too. The verse calls out to the entire mankind to judge a person’s dignity, decency, politeness and graciousness with Righteousness. In the sight of Allah, the most noble are those who are the most Righteous. Here the Quran stressed that Allah is the Knowing One and He is the most Acquainted and Aware to the circumstances. Failing to listen to Him may reduce us to be among the ignorant and unaware.

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”
Quran 49:13

Semantically, the Quran listed the characteristic of Righteousness in the verse below.

“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who -
·        believes in Allah ,
·        the Last Day,
·        the angels,
·        the Book,
·        and
·        the Prophets
·        and gives wealth, in spite of love for it,
o   to relatives,
o   orphans,
o   the needy,
o   the traveler,
o   those who ask [for help],
o   and for freeing slaves;
·        [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah;
·        [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise;
·        and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle.

Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.

Quran 2:177

Are we then barking at the wrong tree? Why are we then paying more attention to AURAT when the Quran asks us to focus on TAQWA (Righteousness)?

Anas Zubedy
Kuala Lumpur

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Integrity is in his blood BY Shaila Koshy - The STAR

Dr Anis: ‘We need to repeat the message. The power of one is very strong. Sooner or later, change will come’
Dr Anis: ‘We need to repeat the message. The power of one is very strong. Sooner or later, change will come’
In advocating the right ethics, Dr Anis Yusal Yusoff, who took office as the Institute of Integrity Malaysia president early this month, is not just walking the talk, he is also walking tall.
“I BELIEVE in the cause,” says Dr Anis Yusal Yusoff.
“I grew up watching my father. Once he took us out for makan to Tanjung Bungah in the 1970s and only realised on our way home to Kampung Makam that he hadn’t paid at one stall. He drove back 20km to pay maybe 30 sen.
“He told us, ‘I forgot. But we ate, so we have to pay’.”
Then there were times when gifts were delivered to our home during Hari Raya Aidil Fitri and an inquisition would follow.
“My sisters and I would be so happy when we got chocolates but my father would ask who had brought them and tell us to return them if they came from traders. He would say, ‘If they are genuine, let’s see if they still bring gifts after I’ve retired’.”
Dr Anis’ father was chief health and petty traders inspector in the then Penang Municipal Council.
“It was a very powerful position and he did not want to be used,” says Dr Anis, 48, in an exclusive interview with The Star.
“My father didn’t lecture us but showed us by example,” recounts the former Francis Light Primary School pupil.
He was such a good student that Dr Anis made his wife return an expensive gift one time – a prayer mat from overseas.
On June 1, he took over as president of the Institute of Integrity Malaysia (IIM). But even before that he was at the office, off Jalan Tunku Halim in Kuala Lumpur.
“Marking my territory,” he says with a chuckle, slipping into the military jargon from his time at Royal Military College, Sungei Besi.
The six-footer wanted to get to know the IIM family and vice-versa: “I have two years to deliver.”
For starters, IIM is going to make greater use of its building with the following activities:
WEEK 1: Breakfast talk
WEEK 2: Roundtable dialogue – smaller group and topical matters – for example, the impact of GST and how consumers are taken for a ride
WEEK 3: Discussions with university researchers, prioritise the issues to be studied and form the research questions.
WEEK 4: Art Night!
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed spoke at the first breakfast talk on June 4.
Dr Anis says the talks and dialogues would identify problems, to then be analysed deeper for policy recommendations.
For the Art Night Dr Anis is thinking of engaging stand-up comedians like Harith Iskandar and Afdlin Shauki, “to make fun of ourselves on integrity”.
“Jokes, even radio DJs, can create awareness. We can show films. IIM will be a meeting point.”
And not to be KL-centric, they are scoping state integrity bodies to collaborate on holding projects there, says Dr Anis who also has dreams of creating a studio at IIM.
Dr Anis’ appointment by the Prime Minister has drawn varied responses.
When some people familiar with Government appointments heard of my interview, they asked which department he had retired from!
Whereas some in government were wondering where this “young fellow” came from.
Dr Anis has over 20 years experience in international level policy formulation especially on human development and governance. He was UNDP’s Assistant Resident Representative in Malaysia and served at the UN Volunteers Headquarters in Bonn, Germany, as a Specialist.
He has also served on a number of national advisory councils in recent years relating to corruption, consumerism and national unity and integrity. He is a Commissioner in the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission.
Prior to this appointment, he was Principal Fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and was responsible for developing KITA-MESRA, an early warning system to manage potential ethnic tension and conflict. Before KITA, he had already served in IIM as the founding Director of the Political Sector from 2005-2008.
What are his aspirations?
Dr Anis wants research to go beyond perception.
“If people read three articles about corruption, their perception of the level of corruption then would be that it is bad. If they had not read any such articles, they might not have any views about it.”
It’s his experience that perception data is only useful as a guide.
He says reports of snatch thefts may be down because of non-reporting since victims don’t expect to get their valuables back or the thief to be caught.
“But if that’s referenced with bank and Registration department statistics on applications for replacement ATM cards and MyKad, you’d have a more accurate picture.”
In KITA’s ethnic relations survey, they didn’t ask “what do you think about the level of ethnic relations in Malaysia?”
“Instead we asked ‘when was the last time you had a meal with a friend of a different race?’, ‘When did you last visit a friend of a different race?’ and ‘In the past year, how many times did you receive visits from a friend of a different race?”
“As a think-tank on integrity, we are organising (breakfast) talks so we can bring selected thinkers together and have experts come and give us their thoughts. We hope the writers we invite will capture the issues in depth and write on them for the public.”
In his talk, Abu Kassim asked the rakyat to take ownership for their own behaviour.
“Do you think you are friends with those from other religions because of programmes by the National Unity Department?” he asked the audience.
He had a pertinent question on corrupt people – ‘is it orang bodoh or buat bodoh?’ How do you eradicate the practice of accepting gifts when those who buat bodoh say ‘but it’s Malaysian culture!’ or ‘it’s just food lah’?
“Many companies have a no-gift policy. I’m sure during Ramadan, boxes of dates will sent to many offices, even yours,” says Dr Anis.
“You have to say no because the gifts will keep getting more expensive, like top of the range smart phones. If you’re a journalist you could feel so indebted from having accepted gifts/food you would think twice, three times before you do a story unfavourable to that person or company.”
So should the Government preach about integrity when it doesn’t take up recommendations to improve itself?
Dr Anis, who has seen the Government accept and ignore recommendations, says it’s a catch-up game for them.
He points out that consumer and environmental groups were already active before we had ministers for the two areas.
“I was part of the group in UN that helped Malaysia set up Suhakam but Aliran and Hakam were talking human rights long before that. As for integrity and governance, groups like TI-M (Transparency International-Malaysia) which I helped set up were talking about it first. Only now is there a minister.
In 1995, he says not many in Government knew what governance meant. “But today, governance is the word of the day,” he laughs.
“Similarly with integrity. We need to repeat the message. The power of one is very strong. Sooner or later, change will come.”
C.S. Lewis said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
With a ghost of a smile on his face, Dr Anis says this would be good to see in the long run: “Audit yourself. You must be accountable – if you play truant, take long lunches, sleep in the surau – tell your boss you’d like to return some of your salary.”
For the “shorter” long term, he says the way to move forward is to amend laws that give people the opportunity to breach the law.

We do not make any distinctions

Islam's history did not start in the Arab land. Islam is a world religion. Prophet Muhammad is the seal of the Prophets. Many named and unnamed ones came before him. Who were those from India, China, Americas, Central Asia, Antartica, Africa etc etc? We are told not to make any distinctions between them. Peace.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

He is near :)

In Islam, while we have pilgrimage, we do not need to take even a step to be closer to God. No traveling or cost involved. The liberalization and democratization of the relationship between man and God. We also do not need intermediaries. This verse is a radical change from the past . Salam.

Independent thought in Islam by Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi - The STAR

A ROUNDTABLE discussion on “Religion and Human Rights” was organised by the Islamic Renaissance Front on June 14. Regrettably, most media reports ignored the main speeches and sensationalised some questions and answers in such a way that it appeared to be an exercise in religious authority bashing.
In fact, it was a thought-provoking deliberation on many themes, one prominent one being whether Islam permits independent thought, reason and reflection.
Religion and reason: On this issue, Surah 20:114 of the Holy Quran must be noted. “O my Lord, advance me in knowledge”. The very first revelation to Prophet Muhammad reads: “Recite: In the name of thy Lord who created man from a clot. Recite: And thy Lord is the most generous Who taught by the pen, taught man that which he knew not.” (96:1-5).
Many sayings of Prophet Muhammad supplement the Quran’s command to advance knowledge. “Seek knowledge even though it be in China.” “The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.” “God has revealed to me, that the best form of worship is the pursuit of knowledge.”
For the first four centuries of Islam, reason was employed to understand revelation. Innovation through ijtihad (independent reasoning) flourished in all areas where the felt necessities of the times required a solution which could not be found explicitly in the syariah.
Prophet Muhammad approved the exercise of reason to fill the gaps not filled by the Quran or the hadith (his sayings).
Prof James Piscatori of Durham University was of the opinion that rationalism is part of Islam.
Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa pointed out that the Mutazilite school of thought (8th to 10th century) espoused reason and rational thought.
Muslim jurists used many accepted doctrines like maqasid syariah (objective of the law) to interpret religious theory in such a way as to minimise contradictions with human rights norms.
In the area of science, David Batchelor points out there are approximately 750 verses in the Holy Quran on natural phenomena. For example, Surah 32:8-9 describes the development of the human foetus in the womb.
Many people will find it difficult to believe that eminent scholars and ground-breaking scientists flourished in Islamic civilisation from the 8th to the 13th century. Libraries flourished in Baghdad and Cordoba.
Arabic was the lingua franca of science and technology. By the 10th century, Muslim zeal for learning resulted in Greek medical and scientific writings being translated into Arabic.
In turn, many Arabic texts were translated into Latin, but with the names of Islamic scholars “Latinised” to obscure their identity. Thus Ibnu Sina became Avicenna; al-Ghazali was changed to Algazel; Ibn Rushd to Averroes and al-Razi to Rhazes.
Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, in addressing an IT conference in Minnesota, spoke of the Islamic civilisation “whose multicultural armies enabled peace and prosperity; whose commerce extended from the Americas to China and who driven by invention, gave humanity the gifts of algebra and algorithms.
The society cured disease, carried out complicated surgical operations and laid the foundations for modern medicine and physiology. While most of the world was steeped in ignorance and fearful of ideas, this civilisation kept knowledge alive.”
Regression: Sadly, Muslims have now fallen into a deep abyss. With the closure of the gates of ijtihad by Sunni Muslim jurists after the first four centuries of Islam, the intellectual and political decline became evident.
Reason is shunned, not just by the fanatics but by the vast majority of Muslims. Narrowest and most regressive doctrines have an unassailable hold on Muslim minds.
Suppression of thought characterises Muslim societies.
Free thinkers like Ibn Rushd, Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, Ibn al-Rawandi, al-Biruni and Abdolkarim Soroush are victimised and their books banned.
Moderation, toleration and rationality are viewed with suspicion. Taqlid(unquestioning obedience) is the natural choice of most Muslims.
A religion that shunned a priestly hierarchy has ironically developed an autocratic ecclesiastical elite that brooks no dissent, suppresses diversity and interprets the sacred texts in the most literal way.
In mutual exchange for loyalty, the political masters, despite many misgivings, support the religious elite even when the latter issue edicts and undertake actions that are intolerant, divisive, unconstitutional and according to Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, even contrary to moderate interpretations of the religion.
Reconstruction: What can be done to recapture the spirit of inquiry that animated the early years of Islam and to revive the wonder that was early Islam? There is no dearth of books. Mohammad Iqbal’s The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam is an example.
The gates of ijtihad must be pried open. Reason must be employed to interpret revelations.
A purely literal, textual and strict constructionist approach must give way to a purposive and contextual interpretation.
In a spirit of inclusiveness, Islamic jurists of all persuasions must be consulted to find new solutions to problems like terrorism and abuse of women that afflict many Muslim societies.
A distinction must be made between syariah (the revealed law) and fiqh (juristic opinions). The former is divine and eternal but subject to flawed human interpretations. The latter is man-made and amenable to change.
The traditional Islamic curriculum, unchanged for centuries, is devoted exclusively to the works of approved imams and scholars.
It should be modified to reflect the rich intellectual diversity that exists in Islam.
Finally, religions are not only about worship, atonement and personal salvation. They are also about service to humanity.
Many Muslim societies suffer from poverty and deprivation.
Even in the more affluent ones, there are pockets of suffering where the rays of justice do not reach.
All Muslim must therefore imbibe the spirit of Surah Al-Baqara: 177 where it is stated that piety is not manifested just by turning our faces to the East or West. Piety is to give of our wealth to our kin, orphans, poor, wayfarers and to those who ask. Piety is to pay zakat, to set slaves free and to observe our obligations.
It is in such service to humanity that true righteousness and obedience to Allah is manifested.