Followers

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

STIFLING THE AMMAN MESSAGE by Chandra Muzaffar


In any civilised society no one will resort to violence, or the threat of violence, to stifle the voices that one does not want to hear.  Unfortunately, this is what happened in Malaysia a few days ago when some bigots managed to force the cancellation of a public seminar on ‘The Amman Message’ organised by certain civil society groups scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur on the 13th of July 2019. A Facebook Account holder threatened to bomb the venue of the seminar, the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS).

Threatening to bomb a place constitutes an act of terror. While there have been instances in the past when force has been employed by groups to disrupt peaceful public gatherings, this is perhaps one of those rare occasions where an individual blatantly links himself and the group he is representing, Gerakan Banteras Syiah( the movement to stop the spread of Syiah) to a terrorist threat. It suggests a degree of boldness which we have not witnessed before. 

What is shocking about this brazen act is that it is driven by a stark lie. It projects the Amman Message as a devious instrument to propagate Syiah teachings when anyone who has a basic understanding of the Message knows that it merely recognises the validity of all 8 Mathhabs (legal schools) of Islam and forbids takfir (declarations of apostasy) between Muslims. Aimed at creating unity and harmony within the Muslim Ummah, the message was initiated by a Sunni Ruler, King Abdullah of Jordan in 2004. The majority of those involved in drafting and endorsing the document were Sunnis. Besides, the Amman Message was unanimously adopted by the summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now Cooperation) in Mecca in December 2005. It is undoubtedly true that the Amman Message is one of the most important documents produced by the Muslim world in the last 100 years.

Manufacturing a lie in order to tarnish a noble effort and then deploying that lie to whip up popular emotions is becoming quite pervasive in our society. Of course, the manipulation of the lie is so much a part of politics in Malaysia and most other countries. Nonetheless, in a situation in which fears are exaggerated and uncertainties are exploited even more than in the past, the lie becomes even more impactful --- and therefore more dangerous.

It is a pity that so few Malaysians including human rights advocates are prepared to expose the lies that are churned out.  Even the threat of violence to silence the truth has not elicited as much condemnation from sane and rational people as it should. When the people are not doing enough, it becomes imperative for those in authority to act with courage and firmness.  

In the case of the aborted Amman Message seminar since names and identities are known it is assumed that the police have not encountered insurmountable difficulties in their investigation. As one of the three organisers of the seminar, the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) would like to know what action has been taken against the individual and group that threatened to bomb the venue. The public has a right to know.

It is only when prompt and effective action is taken against those who threaten peace and peaceful dialogue that we will be convinced that the rule of law is supreme in our society and that we uphold civilised norms of human behaviour.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) Malaysia.
14 July 2019.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

MY GRANDFATHER'S ADVICE




Note : this article is taken from the 1st chapter of my book "Quran and I"

My experience with the Quran started early.

My Jid; grandfather in Arabic, was a Hafiz al-Quran, one who had memorized the Quran cover-to-cover. My eldest sister and I were his favorite because we had the opportunity to spend more time with him than the other siblings. I’d also like to think that it was because we were also quick to understand and recite the Quran, and our pronunciation and reading were outstanding. I would recite the Quran and Jid would shout corrections from afar while he tended to some chores.

         Jid was my first Muslim role model. He was a gentle, responsible, loving, family man who loved his wife thoroughly. He was married to only one woman. 

He was also hard working. At a young age he immigrated to Medan, Indonesia, from Yemen, with nothing to his name. By the time he passed away, he had amassed numerous properties that till today provides for his children and grandchildren, not lavishly, but enough to survive the vagaries of the Indonesian economy.

         For me, the cultural legacy he left behind far outweighed his material possessions. He was a great mentor. When I was five, I spent three months in Medan with him. He would invite me to ride pillion on his bicycle. Sometimes I would rather play with the other kids so I complained. He told me that when I grew up I would understand why. 

On one of those rides, he took me on a long journey deep into Medan pendalaman. "We are poor" he said, “but there are others worse off.” He wanted me to understand the concept of bershukor, thankfulness or gratitude.   

“It is He Who brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when ye knew nothing; and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affections: that ye may give thanks …” - Quran 16:78

He cautioned me that when we reached our destination on the bicycle, when his friend served food and drink I must not complain no matter what, and I had to finish my given portion. The tea was awful, the bread was dry and hard, but I swallowed as advised. 

On the ride back, it was ‘question answer time'. He asked, “The floor in our house, what is it made of? “ I answered, “Cement”. “How about my friend’s house, and the houses around it, what is the floor made off?” I answered, “Tanah!”

            He went on and conveyed to me many important life's learning from that simple trip. He said, while the floor was made of earth and their house had few things, they kept it clean. His friend was a kind man, loving to his family and he was a good friend. God, my Jid explained, will not care about what you have on the outside, but will look at what you are from the inside. The Quran, Jid said, tells us that God is close to everyone regardless of whether you are poor or rich.

“NOW, VERILY, it is We who have created man, and We know what his innermost self whispers within him: for We are closer to him than his neck-vein” - Quran 50:16

When I was eight, Jid visited us in Penang. We would take long walks and the mentoring would continue. We walked to Tanjong Tokong and sat near a huge rock between the road and sea front (now the rock has made way for a housing development). He explained that the Quran says that any kind of job is good in the eyes of God as long as it is Halal. He pointed to a sweeper sweeping the roadside and told me that the man has a good job as he was keeping the place clean and God loved him for his work and that I must show respect to the sweeper too.

“For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath,- an eternal dwelling: How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)!” - Quran 3:136

Jid’s advice was simple to understand. He said that any man who is able to work but lay idle, Tuhan nanti marah. Any man who failed to provide for his wife her nafkah when he is able, Tuhan nanti marah . He told me that one day when I am married no matter where my wife is, even if she is thousands of miles away, I must send her nafkah. 

He lived as he preached. Jid did not have to work when he was almost eighty as he had funds and his children provided for him, but he insisted on working even if it was just laying a small rug on the streets of Aden with some goods to sell. He worked till his last days, making sure he sent his wife her nafkah with money from his own sweat. He never missed sending my Jidah(grandmother), her nafkah even when Jid was thousands of miles away in Aden and Jidah was in Medan for many years. Jidah was a lucky woman!

Jid, thank you for explaining the Quran to me in a language that I could understand, not just in Bahasa Indonesia, but in a language a little kid would make sense of and with real life examples and experience. But most of all, thank you for showing me a model to live, with the Quran as our hidayah (guidance).

 “Say: "I but follow what is revealed to me from my Lord: this is (nothing but) lights from your Lord, and Guidance, and mercy, for any who have faith." -  Quran 7 : 203

“Those to whom We have sent the Book study it as it should be studied: They are the ones that believe therein: Those who reject faith therein,- the loss is their own”. - Quran 2:121

“THIS divine writ - let there be no doubt about it is [meant to be] a guidance for all the God-conscious” - Quran 2:2

“We sent not an apostle except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them…” – Quran 14:4

Peace,

anas zubedy

Sunday, June 2, 2019

MY DEAR MUSLIM BROTHERS AND SISTERS. DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS IK ONKAR?



Ik Onkar is the central belief in Sikhism.

Let me elaborate.

Each time I meet and see a Sikh, the first thing that come to my mind is IK ONKAR. This term immediately makes me feel closer to my brothers and sisters in Sikhism. Ik means, one and only one, the one that cannot be compared with any other. Onkar means God.

So Ik Onkar can be summarized as One God – the one Absolute God, the Eternal, the Supreme Unity.

Ik Onkar has a central and prominent place at the head of the Mul Mantar - the first composition in the Sikh holy text, the Adi Granth – later became the Guru Granth Sahib. Ik Onkar is the first name our Sikh brothers and sisters call upon in prayer each time they go to the Gurdwara.

I find it very similar to one of our most repeated chapters in the Quran, Al-Iklas.

“Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.”
Quran 112:1-4

Another verse always come to mind, too.

“The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on him by them; but shun such men as use profanity in his names: for what they do, they will soon be requited” Quran 7:180

To my Sikh brothers and sisters, thank you.

Please continue the sharing that you are really good at, not just at Gurdwaras within Malaysia, but all over the world. May your spirit of giving acts like a virus that spreads to all of humanity.

Ik Onkar and Peace,

anas zubedy

Thursday, May 23, 2019

CHARITY STARTS AT HOME?

I posted on FB and Twitter this comment earlier today. Some agreed, while others are not happy. “UNIVERSITY PLACEMENT FOR PALESTINIANS Pls remember. We are not as poor & challenged as the Palestinians & many other nations. Let us not allow our shallow racial quota quarrels blind us on our humanity. We are always great at humanitarian work. Peace.”
Those who disagreed stressed that charity must start at home. I fully agree. But it also depends on what is home to you? For some, home is their immediate family. There are also those who identify home to only those who originate from their own state like Penang or Johore. There would be others who feel only for their own ethnic groups. Home is their racial grouping. They want as much as possible, like as many matriculation placements as possible for their own ethnic group. Many may identify home to only those who share their own faith. To each its own. Yet, there would also be those who see the whole world as home – mother earth. All of humanity and all humans as family. I belong to this last group. A few places in the public university for the Palestinians or any other poor or tragic nations is all right for me. We are not giving them overly much, just a tad of a few places in our higher institute of learning with the hope many other countries do the same. A little help here, a little help there can perhaps help a nation crippled with war to one day build their country again. It is like what we Malaysians always do when someone needs help – like a poor kid that needs medical attention or when there is a calamity somewhere, be it an earthquake or flood. When we donate some cash, it does not mean that the money cannot be used to help a close family member in need or used to better our own flood situation in Kelantan or Kedah. It is just that deep in our hearts, we know that the kid and those people in need are somehow connected to us is humanity. And we are hopeful, the little help we give, may help them go far. As I suggested in my earlier post stated above, let us not allow our shallow racial quota quarrels blind us on our humanity. We are better than that. We are Malaysians. So, what is home to you? But we can agree to disagree. Thank you and Peace, Anas Zubedy Kuala Lumpur

Saturday, May 18, 2019

TARGETING IRAN by Chandra Muzaffar

A dangerous flashpoint has emerged in world politics at the moment. There is widespread fear that the United States and its allies might launch a military operation against Iran at any time. A US aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers are already deployed in the region. The alleged sabotage of four oil tankers, two of them Saudi, and the attack on a major oil pipeline are being linked in certain circles without an iota of evidence to Tehran. There is no need to repeat that scenarios of this sort are often manufactured to justify military aggression.

For more than a year now since unilaterally repudiating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal forged between Iran and six world powers, the US has not only re-imposed economic sanctions upon Iran but has also forced other states that trade with Iran to reduce drastically their interaction with Tehran. US targeting of Iran is a grave travesty of justice for the simple reason that the UN’s nuclear inspection agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has reiterated over and over again that Iran has complied with the nuclear deal. It should not therefore be punished with old or new sanctions. This is also the position adopted by the other signatories to the deal, namely, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

But US president, Donald Trump is determined to act against Iran partly because of the growing influence of the Israeli government led by Benyamin Netanyahu and a segment of the Israeli lobby in the US upon his administration. Though Israel has harbored deep distrust of the Iranian leadership since the 1979 Islamic Revolution because of the latter’s proven commitment to the Palestinian cause, it is only in recent years that it has begun to sense that a combination of three factors renders Iran and its people a formidable challenge to Israel’s goal of establishing its hegemonic power over West Asia. Iran’s oil and gas wealth has been reinforced by its scientific knowledge and capabilities underscored by a passionate devotion to the nation’s independence and sovereignty derived from both its historical experience and its attachment to a spiritual identity. Besides, the Iranian government is a staunch defender of the Syrian government which refuses to yield to Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, in itself a gross violation of international law. Iran is also linked to the Hezbollah which has successfully resisted Israeli attempts to gain control over Lebanon, thus threatening the tiny nation’s sovereignty.

There is also perhaps another reason why Israel and the US are hell-bent on targeting Iran at this juncture. Very soon, leaders of these two states will announce the so-called “deal of the century”, a farcical attempt to resolve the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict. Because the deal from what little is known of it, is so palpably unjust to the Palestinian people, the Palestinians and the majority of the people of West Asia are expected to reject it outright. According to various sources, the deal condemns the Palestinians to perpetual apartheid. Iran and its allies can be expected to spearhead the opposition. It explains to some extent why Iran has to be hobbled immediately.

As an aside, it is ironical that Israel is showing such hostility to Iran when the Iranian Constitution not only recognizes the Jews as a minority but also provides the community with representation in its legislature. This is unique in West Asia. Israel’s failure to appreciate this is perhaps proof that its real commitment is not so much to the well-being of the Jews as the triumph of its Zionist ideology with its goal of expansionism and hegemony.

It is not simply because of Zionism or Israel that the US Administration is seeking to emasculate Iran. Weakening and destroying Iran is foremost on the agenda of another of Trump’s close allies in the region. The Saudi ruling elite also saw the Iranian Revolution of 1979 as a mortal threat to its position and power because it overthrew a feudal monarch, was opposed to US dominance of the region and sought inspiration in a vision of Islam rooted in human dignity and social justice. As Iranian influence in West Asia expanded especially after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, the Saudi elite became even more apprehensive of Iran and wanted the US to curb Iran’s role in the region. In this regard it is worth observing that if Iran has become more influential in the region in the last 15 years or so, it is not only because of the astuteness of the Iranian leadership but also because of the follies of the Saudi and US ruling elite. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein through an Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 for instance paved the way for the ascendancy of Shia politicians more inclined towards Iran.

How and why Saudi and Israeli elite interests and ambitions are intertwined in the US push against Iran is not highlighted in the media including the new media. Consequently, only a small fraction of the public understands the real causes for the escalation of tensions in West Asia centering on Iran. It is largely because the media conceals and camouflages the truth, that a lot of people see the victim as the perpetrator and the perpetrator as the liberator. Or as Malcolm X once put it, “If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” 

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a just World (JUST)
Malaysia
18 May 2019

Sunday, April 28, 2019

WHAT IS THE SIMILARITY BETWEEN THE ENEMIES OF ISLAM, MUSLIM TERRORIST AND UNINFORMED MUSLIMS?


THEY ALL WANT TO BELIEVE THAT ISLAM IS NOT A PEACEFUL RELIGION 

But what does the Quran say about FIGHTING?

Firstly, the right word for fight in the Quran is qital and those derived from it, not jihad.

Let us look into the Quranic concept of qital and when are we allowed to fight. The Quran not only allow us to fight but see it as a duty to do so within the right conditions. 

However, as a note, according to historians, in his 23 years of his Prophethood, actual fighting was only 3 days. That should give an indication about the Quran’s and the Prophet’s position on fighting – for those who use their intellect – both Muslims and Non-Muslims alike 😊.

As usual, I would like the Quran to speak for Itself.  

Let me share about 10 in this entry. All emphasis are mine to help readers focus on a particular message.

1.    PERMISSION [TO FIGHT] IS GIVEN TO THOSE AGAINST WHOM WAR IS BEING WRONGFULLY WAGED and, verily, God has indeed the power to succour them. Quran 22:39

2.    AND FIGHT in God's cause AGAINST THOSE WHO WAGE WAR AGAINST YOU, BUT DO NOT COMMIT AGGRESSION-for, verily, God does not love aggressors - Quran 2:190

3.    And how could you refuse to fight in the cause of God and of the UTTERLY HELPLESS MEN AND WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO ARE CRYING, "O our Sustainer! Lead us forth [to freedom] out of this land whose people are oppressors, and raise for us, out of Thy grace, a protector, and raise for us, out of Thy grace, one who will bring us succour!"– Quran 4:75

4.    O Prophet! Inspire the believers to conquer all fear of death when fighting,  [so that,] IF THERE BE TWENTY OF YOU WHO ARE PATIENT IN ADVERSITY, THEY MIGHT OVERCOME TWO HUNDRED; AND [THAT,] IF THERE BE ONE HUNDRED OF YOU, THEY MIGHT OVERCOME ONE THOUSANDS of those who are bent on denying the truth, because they are people who cannot grasp it. Quran 8:65

5.    BUT IF THEY BREAK THEIR SOLEMN PLEDGES AFTER HAVING CONCLUDED A COVENANT, and revile your religion, then fight against these archetypes of faithlessness who, behold, have no [regard for their own] pledges, so that they might desist [from aggression]. - Quran 9:12

6.    Would you, perchance, fail to fight against people who have broken their solemn pledges,and have done all that they could to drive the Apostle away, AND HAVE BEEN FIRST TO ATTACK YOU? Do you hold them in awe? Nay, it is God alone of whom you ought to stand in awe if you are [truly] believers! – Quran 9:13

7.    Hence, if two groups of believers fall to fighting, make peace between them; but then, if one of the two [groups] goes on acting wrongfully towards the other, FIGHT AGAINST THE ONE THAT ACTS WRONGFULLY Until it reverts to God’s commandment; and if they revert, make peace between them with justice, and deal equitably [with them]: for verily, God loves those who act equitably! - Quran 49:9

8.    As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, GOD DOES NOT FORBID YOU TO SHOW THEM KINDNESS AND TO BEHAVE TOWARDS THEM WITH FULL EQUITY: FOR, VERILY, GOD LOVES THOSE WHO ACT EQUITABLY. - Quran 60:8

9.    GOD ONLY FORBIDS YOU TO TURN IN FRIENDSHIP TOWARDS SUCH AS FIGHT AGAINST YOU BECAUSE OF [YOUR] FAITH, AND DRIVE YOU FORTH FROM YOUR HOMELANDS, OR AID [OTHERS] IN DRIVING YOU FORTH: and as for those [from among you] who turn towards them in friendship; it is they, they who are truly wrongdoers! Quran 60:9

10. [They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right - only because they say, "Our Lord is Allah ." AND WERE IT NOT THAT ALLAH CHECKS THE PEOPLE, SOME BY MEANS OF OTHERS, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN DEMOLISHED MONASTERIES, CHURCHES, SYNAGOGUES, AND MOSQUES IN WHICH THE NAME OF ALLAH IS MUCH MENTIONED. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. Quran 22:40



Peace, anas

Sunday, March 10, 2019

PUNISHMENT FOR INSULTING ANOTHER RELIGION – THE PROPHET’S WAY


I write in response to the recent 10-year jail sentence for insulting Islam and the Prophet. I have strong convictions that we must relook at this law. It is not justly balanced. Ironically, it is also not in accordance to the Quran’s and the Prophet’s way of doing things.

Muslims must remember how the Prophet behaved at the conquest of Mecca - when he was at the zenith of his power. The people of Mecca whom for more than a decade before the conquest insulted and boycotted him, refused to listen to his mission, tortured him and his followers, persecuted them, drove them to exile and tried very hard to kill him. At that moment of power, did he act with cruelty or mercy? With vengeance or love?

Instead of following the rules of war, where he could avenge and punish them with a death sentence, Muhammad the Prophet whom the Quran declared as ‘the one sent as the mercy to all mankind” (Quran 21:107) flowed with kindness and love and he proclaimed "THIS DAY, THERE IS NO REPROOF AGAINST YOU AND YOU ARE ALL FREE. THIS DAY I TRAMPLE UNDER MY FEET ALL DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN MAN AND MAN, ALL HATRED BETWEEN MAN AND MAN."

The Prophet’s behavior in giving pardon to even his worst enemies, even those who killed his beloved uncle, Hamzah, mangled his body, ripped it open, even chewed a piece of his liver is consistent to another Quranic declaration at Quran 3:159, “And it was by God's grace that thou [O Prophet] didst DEAL GENTLY WITH THY FOLLOWERS: FOR IF THOU HADST BEEN HARSH AND HARD OF HEART, they would indeed have broken away from thee. PARDON THEM, THEN, AND PRAY THAT THEY BE FORGIVEN. And take counsel with them in all matters of public concern; then, when thou hast decided upon a course of action, place thy trust in God: for, verily, God loves those who place their trust in Him.” It is obvious that the 10-year sentence is in itself is an insult to the Prophet. Is it not ironic?

So where do we go from here? We need to practice Mercy, just like the Prophet did. Let me unpack why Mercy must play a bigger role in these kinds of situation.

Mercy is central to everything that is good. When all else fail, Mercy is our savior. The Prophet knew this. His goal is Peace, not vengeance. As such, our framework to make things good and move forward must emerge from Mercy. Once we have Mercy as our operating system, our worldview, our intentions, our journey, our plans, actions and behavior cannot but come back to moderation in action. Mercy is the core of being a good human. Without mercy, there would be no humanity. With mercy, we create a chain reaction that has the powerful ability and capacity to convert enemies into friends. Those who insult the other, into those who appreciates.

Mercy helps us to forgive and forget. We are a young nation chasing after big dreams. We come from different backgrounds, religions, cultures and ethnicities. It is natural that along the way, we may intentionally or unintentionally hurt each other. If we are not quick to forgive and forget, we will create a tit-for-tat cycle. Mercy will help us choose to be the bigger person and may even turn the other cheek. Mercy will help us be able to see the greater good in forgiveness.

How to punish then? We need to change our goal. The goal is to educate, not to punish. To open one’s heart, not to hardened them. I suggest a two-prong approach.

  1. Anyone found insulting another religion-culture-tradition must spend time studying and understanding the religion-culture-tradition under a kind & merciful teacher from that faith. This should include time to do social services.   
  2. The religious and community leader of the offender should also play a role in re-educating him or her based oh his or her religious tradition. In other words, if a Christian mock another faith, the Church leaders must engage the person with their own tradition and core values that corrects his or her wrongful behavior. Similarly, when a Muslim mock another religion, a Muslim religious leader should bring him back to the behavior of the Prophet.
As a Muslim Malaysian, I have strong convictions that we need to be the first to practice Mercy and follow this method. After all we are the majority citizen, the country’s official religion is Islam and the main leaders of the nation are Malay Muslims. We need to be the standard bearer if we want to claim leadership. We must be the community that make the first move. When a non-Muslim insults Islam and is punished with a ten-year sentence but a Muslim preacher who insults another religion is given protection, we are seen as unjust. Our religion is looked down upon, and, our Prophet is misunderstood. We Muslims know and proud to profess that “being just is nearest to Taqwa - God-Consciousness (Quran 5:8)” but we must also be seen to practice it consistently. Less we become the very type that is warned by Allah as a Mutaffifin – those who give short measure.

O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. BE JUST: THIS IS CLOSEST TO BEING GOD-CONSCIOUS. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.

Quran 5:8

WOE UNTO THOSE WHO GIVE SHORT MEASURE, those who, when they are to receive their due from [other] people, demand that it be given in full, but when they have to measure or weigh whatever they owe to others, give less than what is due!

Quran 83:1-3

VERILY, in the Apostle of God you have a good example for everyone who looks forward [with hope and awe] to God and the Last Day, and remembers God unceasingly.

Quran 33:21

Peace.
Anas Zubedy
Kuala Lumpur