Saturday, January 31, 2009

Part 2 (4-6) : Contemplating the Quran at the Park


I am not the macho type.

I do not go to the gym to pump iron or lift weights. I have a couple of dumbbells at home, but hardly use them, so they sit there in my room true to their name, like dumbbells.

For more than five years when I was a member at Clark Hatch Mont Kiara, I swam at the tea-cup sized pool. Typical Penangite, I tried to talk them into charging me half the normal price as I do not use the machines and equipments at all, but they would not budge.

Recently I quit Clark Hatch as they came out with a rather foolish way to save cost. I figured that limiting someone who swims and later uses the sauna to only two towels hardly make sense and definitely unhygienic. That was a little too much, even if you are not from Penang.

Basically I keep fit by swimming, callisthenics (exercise routines that use your own body weight like push-ups, chinning, squatting, etc) and fast walking. And after completing two rounds of fast walking at the TTDI Park, my habit is to ‘punish’ my feet at the reflexology track. It is one of those peculiar things we humans do, like eating chilly, finding joy through pain ... Nuts!

There were about twenty five children roller-skating at the flat cemented surface neighbouring to the reflexology track, with an odd one out, a Caucasian woman probably in her 40s. There was a coach, checking if they were doing it right. It wasn’t me alone; most of the onlookers were focussing on the lady. She was more afraid than the kids, perhaps as we aged we worry more, we are less agile, and we are taller so the floor definite looks further too, and if we do fall, it will be a real thump!

For whatever reason, it is more agonizing to learn these things when we are no longer a child. But she was unwavering, pulling herself up, her face switching from a joyous grin, to fear, to joy, to fear again... as she tread from one side to the other.

It was hard, I could read it in her face but the lady was committed. It is never too late to learn, perhaps she missed the chance when she was small, like we all do at one thing or the other. But, give up we must not. We may have to put in a little more hard work, but it will be worth it.

I feel connected to this lady, “And, behold, with every hardship comes ease: verily, with every hardship comes ease!” (Quran 94: 5-6) and thank her in silence for reminding me of a few things I have missed learning when I was a child, and yet to take any action....sigh...


“Ma...Pen Na Le Pare Ma! Ma ... look..look!"

A boy of about ten years of age calling out to his mother to turn back and look at his achievement in making one of those twist with an abrupt stop with the roller-skates. Obviously Tamilian. He has skinny legs, thighs floating in his well ironed dark blue pantaloon. His hair was combed flat with a clear parting line at the left like those goody boys I met when I was in my primary school aeons ago. He wore a nerdy pair of almost Gandhi-like glasses to complete his geeky look. His watch was big for his wrist, white with some colourful patterns on it.

His mom looks trendy, had a good figure, wearing a cool looking pair of dark glasses and holding a branded hand-bag in her left hand. She did justice to the tight green blouse and black figure hugging pants too. The shoes were a little off, but that could be excused as she needed to be practical when walking at the park. She was pleased with her son, giving him a thumb up. He was happy, he was full of pride.

I was happy with both of them. Not only because she did justice to the figure hugging pants and tight green blouse but more so because I know they are many of our Indian brothers and sisters especially the Tamilians who are not as lucky as they are. Many of whom are as poor or worst of than my family was when I was a child. That was in the seventies.

But the NEP helped my family and scores of Bumiputras to get out of poverty. However the NEP somehow missed the Indian poor in a BIG way. It’s unfortunate that we see the Indian socioeconomic problem as an Indian one and not a Malaysian one. Nay... it is larger than that too; poverty is a problem to be solved by humanity.

I feel connected to the mom and child pair. I feel connected to our poor Indian brothers and sisters too, as I too have tasted poverty. I wish we have another NEP that makes sure all who are poor is not left out. I wish that the Zakat (alms) contribution in this country is distributed to the non-Muslims too, as the Quran says,

“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah. And for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” (Quran 9:60)...

Zakat is not only for the Muslims.

And finally, Six.

The reflexology track...

My right hand searched for the headphones in my right khaki pocket, then my left hand slide into the left one for the PDA phone. I love these khaki pants with those two huge extra pockets at the sides. They can house a decent size book, and not to mention my dental floss pack, thumb-drive, hand-phone, highlighter and pen, loose ringgits and coins, an apple or pear or even a couple of pisang montel and a 500ml water bottle. You ladies have handbags; we guys have pockets. Even if we do look stupid with bulging pockets on both sides, we really do not see it as an issue.... so just live with it!

Plugged in the headphones, took out the pointer and clicked on the Today Menu, then Windows Media and chose ‘The Sound of Yellow Stone’, soothing music with natural sounds. I usually do this to add background music to the already peaceful mood at the park. It also helps ease the pain. As I gently placed my foot one at a time forward, I try to feel the sweetness of pain as my body weight forced them onto the stones. The reflexology master who designed the track knew his trade, he pace the trail, warming you up first with starting easy, slowly introducing sharper stones and three quarter way through torture your feet to the max and then gradually sort of warm you down at the end. So, at some parts the small rocks were flat and rounded and at other parts sharp and jutting upwards almost 2 inches high at its worst.

I usually break my reflexology course six times with ten push-ups each. Sometimes eight times, with ten push-ups each, it all depends on how tired I am after the walk. But, that Saturday I stop at seven times ten. As I was about finishing the seventh set, a group of about seven teenagers, boys and girls sang the birthday song at the pondok near to the track. They were a multi-ethnic grouping.

I feel connected to them. I grew up like them. In fact, I feel connected to you too. No matter what colour you are or what language you speak, as the Quran says,

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are Signs for those who know”. (Quran 30:22)

Happy Reading the Quran!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Contemplating the Quran at the Park Part 1 (1-3)

This blogpost is now featured in the book, The Quran and I :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quran 101 by Syed Akbar Ali

Syed Akbar Ali, author of three books wrote a Quran 101 for our Let's Read The Quran Campaign ...

He said,

"The source document for Muslims is the Quran. The Quran is where it all begins. But when we sat down and talked further, we realized that the average person, the Muslim as well as those who are of other faiths and persuasions have little knowledge of what is in the Quran. So we decided that we would draw some attention to the Quran"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Malaysians Want?

Wishing you a Chinese New Year/Gong Xi Fa Chai.

Below is our (zubedy the company) CNY message - an ad we will feature in the Star tomorrow. This ad is the second " What Malaysians Want " series . The previous one spoke about Development Without Corruption

Have A Meaningful Chinese New Year
What Malaysians Want : A First-Rate Education

Malaysia aims to have first nation status in less than twelve years; a first-rate education is the fundamental right of every Malaysian child.

Though there are more students attending school today as compared to any other time in history, the fact remains that the overall quality of our schools lack lustre and there remains a gaping disparity between rural and urban schools with the latter being better off.

In a plural society where schools must not only educate but integrate people, our schools tend to promote self segregation where one sticks in cliques of his own kind, this eliminates the need to mix and assimilate. This self segregation continues through college and university.

Malaysians want a first rate education for their children. We also need a first rate education that unites us; social bonding that will help smooth over inevitable differences. The core thrust of our very first education initiative: speak the same language, read the same books to achieve national unity, is as relevant today as it was more than fifty years ago. While choices of schools are necessary as children have different needs and parental choice leads to parental involvement, there must be a common core for all schools.

The national language and English are key unifiers. The national language must be central in all schools and English language must be taught. English is the language of science and technology. All Malaysian children will benefit from learning science in English, when they grow up to be engineers, doctors and scientists, English proficiency will allow them to advance in their respective fields. Mandarin and Tamil must be offered from year one, the knowledge of
Mandarin is especially useful to all our children as China grows in economic strength.

Performing and visual arts classes, extracurricular activities including sports, before and after school tuition and parent teacher organizations, all go towards making children smart like Zhuge Liang.

Education can equalize and unite us. With a common core for all schools, children will not only succeed academically, they grow up tolerant and truly accepting of one another. As Zhuge Liang said: "In order to win people over to your side, educate them."

At zubedy, our programs draw strength from shared values and traditions. We believe at the heart, all Malaysians want good things for themselves and for their fellow brother and sister Malaysian, simply because our nation cannot prosper as a whole if some of us are left behind. Regardless of race and politics, all Malaysians want a first-rate education for their children. We also need a first rate education that unites us.

Let us add value,
Have a meaningful Chinese New Year

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Who runs America's Middle East Policy?

The American President or ....

On Jan 8, he had a problem. United States Secretary of State CondoleezzaRice was going to vote for a United Nations Security Council resolution thatcalled on both Israel and its Palestinian enemy, Hamas, to accept aceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Indeed, she had been largely responsible forwriting it, and Mr Olmert was furious. He wanted more time to hammer Hamas, so he phoned up Mr George W. Bush and yanked on his choke-chain.

To read more click here

Monday, January 19, 2009

A mother's concern ...

As part of the Let’s Read The Quran Campaign, Marina Mahathir wrote ...

“Now there may be people who say that reading the translation of the Quran is not the same as reading The Quran. But for me, I thank God for opening my daughter’s heart to reading it on her own in a language she understands, for all the right reasons. Not because she wants to get dressed up and be the centre of attention. But because she wanted to know what the Quran says about many things that she doesn’t understand around her.”

Click here to read more : )

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why read the Quran in your own language?

This blogpost is now featured in the book, The Quran and I :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Quran and Rule Of Engagement When at War

Syed Akbar wrote about Geert Wilder’s short film, a documentary that quoted Quran halfway and missed this part in Chapter 8 verse 61, Quran’s rule of engagement in war.

‘And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in God. Lo! He, even He, is the Hearer, the Knower.’

Syed explains, “So if the enemies gather to attack, prepare to repulse them. But when enemies incline towards peace, then make peace. Quite predictably, Wilders did not reveal this verse 8:61”

To read more click

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let's Read The Quran Campaign


We need your participation!

Campaign name: Let’s Read The Quran

On January 1st 2009, four friends Syed, Walski, Marina and Anas got together at Coffee-Bean Bangsar Village and decided to launch a campaign to encourage people to read and understand the Quran better.

This campaign is not only for Muslims, but also for our brothers and sisters who are Christians, Buddhists Hindus, Sikhs and those who believes in a God-Head but not so gung-ho about being in any brand of religion, too – come join us and share your ideas! You can join this campaign even if you are an atheist!

The goal of this campaign is to encourage people to read the Quran in the language they understand most and find in it areas of common values in our day to day living.

What is the Campaign all about?
Read the Quran in the language that you are familiar with.

When will the campaign start and end?
January 15th to February 14th (Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Participating blogs in the blogospheres.

So more people know what the Quran says and what the Quran does not say and to match it to what is really said in our daily lives.

Everyone who wants to – the more the merrier! If you have a Blog, Facebook, etc carry the logo/icon.

- To join the campaign, place the accompanying logo/icon at your blog.
- Write or share short articles based on the Quranic text.
- Share what you find in the Quran with family and friends.
- Ask questions about the Quranic message
- Read the Quran – eg click here ,

Peace and Thanks,

Marina Mahathir
Syed Akbar Ali
Walski, and,
Anas Zubedy

Participating Blogs

1. 3540 Jalan Sudin
2. Anas Zubedy:
3. ARTiculations:
4. Being Human in the World:
5. Cowboy Malaysia:
6. Disquiet:
7. Jebat Must Die:
8. Lunch at the Lake Club:
10. myAsylum:
11. O.B.E.
12. OutSyed The Box:
13. Poetic Justice:
14. Rantings by MM:
15. Rapera:
16. Renovatio:
17. Rocky's Bru:
18. Write Away:
19. Writing By Amir:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Difference Between a Jew and a Zionist

My friend Stephen lamented how come many are confused about Jews and Zionists in his facebook entry last night. Hope this will help people know there is a whole lot of difference between the two!

This is Zionism.

To know more click here - the website by Jews against Zionism

PS : Sorry for the gruesome picture - just to stress a point
PS 2 : All my blogpost about Zionism/Palestinian issues will be in RED.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Understanding the M.I.C....

No ... not that MIC but The Malays, Indians and Chinese.

I recommend these three books, The Malays – Their Problems & Future by Syed Husin Ali, it’s an updated version of an earlier one written in late 70s; The Malaysian Indians – History, Problems & future by Muzafar Desmond Tate and The Chinese Dilemma by Ye Lin-Sheng.

All three books are easily available in our book stores : )

Happy Reading!

Anas Zubedy

This has to be in RED...

  1. Israeli tank shells killed at least 40 Palestinians today at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter.
  2. Reuters journalists filmed bodies scattered on the ground amid pools of blood and torn shoes and clothes. A
  3. United Nations official said the school was clearly marked with a UN flag and its location had been reported to Israeli authorities.
  4. People in Gaza have been under siege for more than 18 months. They are not allowed to leave. Some of them moved to United Nations facilities for shelter.
  5. However, four UN centers were targeted over the last 48 hours!
  6. Everything in Gaza has been targeted by air strikes: the university, 2 UNRWA schools, 9 mosques, 100s of houses, hospitals, ambulances...whole families were buried in rubble!
  7. The toll of death in Gaza is 660 today, of which more than 100 are children. The casualties are 2864.

Please support by spreading the word!Wasouf,

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bonding Muslims and Christians

I congratulate the Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Harussani Zakaria as 2008’s recipient of the Tokoh Maal Hijrah. I would also like to thank him in making clear that Islam is tolerant towards the other faiths.

As he quoted, “We do not condemn Jesus because he, too, is a prophet in Islam. Neither do we destroy the many temples and places of worship because our religion refrains us from doing so”.

The Mufti was probably echoing the following Quranic verse,

"(They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, "our Lord is Allah... Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause); - for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will)."(Quran 22:40)

It is important that we make things clear especially for the Muslim masses that the Quran has a very practical view about our Christian brothers. The Quran suggest that as like the Muslims, they are both good and bad Christians, a realistic view indeed.

The Quran says,
"Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are portions that stand (For the right): They rehearse the Signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration" (Quran 3:113)


"Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. "(Quran 5:82)

There is a need to help both sides understand each other better. I recommend the following books for the English speaking population.

To understand the philosophy of Islam, read Kalam Azad’s ‘The Opening Chapter of the Quran’. For a big picture of the Quranic worldview read Fazlur Rahman’s ‘Major Themes of the Quran’. If you want to read only one book about Christianity, I highly recommend Albert Nolan’s ‘Jesus Before Christianity’.

In the longer run, best to read The Quran and The Bible for yourself and today, both are readily available on the net.

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve. (Quran 2 :62)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Answer to controversy is in the Quran

Syed Akbar Ali’s latest post regarding meeting his old friend Dr Kassim Ahmad triggered back the memory of my meeting with the latter when I was still a student in Universiti Malaya. He was so peramah. That was when his book “ Hadis- Satu Penilaian Semula” became the hot topic of conversation amongst many Muslim Malays. The book was later banned. I always felt that the topic he brought forward was never really concluded :(

I wrote an article about the book and the general reaction towards it and the article was carried by NST. I remember that I was totally overjoyed to have my article carried by a daily for the first time! I like to reproduce it here, 22 years later, half my life ago... the wonders of blogging!!!

( NST June 24, 1986 )

Lately, as most Malaysian Muslims are aware, a lot of controversy has been stirred by Encik Kassim’s book, Hadith – A Re-evaluation. Many have expressed fear and many more have called for a ban on the book. Some have gone to the extent of demanding that Encik Kassim should utter the kalimah shahadah a second time as they claim he has deviated from Islam.

Here, I wish to make a plea to all Muslims to stop playing God and refer the matter to God Himself.

As Muslims on the whole believe in the Quran as the Word of God, letter by letter, word for word, sentence by sentence and cover to cover, I wish only to base my basic discussion and evidence on the Quran itself.

The Quran says :
"Say: "What thing is most Weighty in evidence?" Say: "(Allah) is witness between me and you; This Qur'an hath been revealed to me by inspiration, that I may warn you and all whom it reaches. …..." (Quran 6:19).

As we are all aware, now there are two distinct groups of people with differing views on the role of hadith in Islam. Paradoxically, the Quran was sent for the purpose of uniting mankind, such as these differing groups.

The Quran says :“And we sent down the Book to thee for the express purpose, that thou should make clear to them those things in which they differ, that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who believe.” (Quran 16:64)
Now I wish to invite all to examine and understand what the Quran says about itself and the Word of God. The Quran has set down unambiguous criteria regarding what is the Word of God and the word of man.

The Quran says:“Do they not consider The Quran (with care)? Had it been from other Than God, they would surely Have found therein Much discrepancy. (Quran 4:82)
First and foremost, note that the Quran invites us to examine and think it over critically (“with care”). Secondly, if the Quran had been from other than God (i.e., man, Satan, etc), definitely there would be some things that wouldn’t tally. Going further, we can expect numerous errors and discrepancies. Yet the Quran states explicitly that the Word of God is pure, perfect and stands forever.

This is further supported by these words in the Quran :
“We have no doubt, send down the message; And we will assuredly guard it (against corruption)” (Quran 4:82)

I believe that both groups will (God willing) agree with my comments on verse 4:82. Both groups will not deny that the hadith, unlike the Quran, does contain errors even from Bukhari’s time.

The errors range from errors pertaining to copying, theories scientifically proven wrong, and matters that do not tally with the Quran or other collections of hadith.

One such error can be seen in Sahih Al-Bukhari.

The hadith estimates that the initial stages in the development of an embryo are :
(1) A forty-day period for the grouping of elements which are to constitute the human being;
(2) Another forty days during which the embryo is represented as “something that clings”; and
(3) A third forty days when the embryo is termed “chewed flesh”.

Once the angel has intervened to define what this individual’s future is to be, a should is breathed into him. The above 120 days, in describing the embryonic evolution, does not agree with modern scientific data.

Knowing that Bukhari did not have our modern scientific, tools and knowledge, it is easy to understand why he did not throw this hadith out of his (supposedly) Sahih collection.

To those who are not aware of modern scientific progress in understanding the Quran, let us be clear that if we refer to the Quran in the above matter (embryonic evolution), we will find that the Quran confirms modern scientific findings (and vice versa). For example,

The Quran says :
“(God) fashions you inside the bodies of your mothers, formation after formation, in three (veils of) darkness.” (Quran 39:6)
“We fashioned… into something which clings….into a lump of flesh in proportion and out of proportion.” (Quran 5:22)

Modern scientific data tells us how certain parts appear to be completely out of proportion during embryonic development with what is later to become the individual, while others remain in proportion. (For those interested in furthering their knowledge of this subject, please refer to the Bible, the Quran and Science by Maurice Bucaille.)

One more aspect that both groups agree upon is the need to follow and respect the Prophet Muhamad (p.b.u.h). the only problem that arises here is how do we respect and follow him? Let us allow the Quran to guide us in choosing how.

The Quran says :Say : “O man! I am sent unto you all as the apostle of God, to whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth : there is no god but He: It is He that giveth both life and death.So believe in God and His apostle The unlettered Prophet, who believeth in God And His Words: Follow him That (so) ye may be guided” (Quran 7:158)
So, according to these verses, we are to believe in God and His Apostle the unlettered Prophet (Muhamad p.b.u.h.), who believed in God and His words, and if we follow him we rightfully may be guided.

As we clearly understand what His Words are, I do not have to explain this verse much further.

Definitely, the hadith has been and will continue to be the second source of Islamic knowledge for only God knows how long. But then, a re-evaluation on them will definitely do us good just as commentaries and translations of the Quran, which have been improved through the years, do. Furthermore, none should fear a re-evaluation because, as is clearly shown in verse 4:82, even the Quran encourages us to examine it with care.

More importantly, our religious scholars should work hand in hand with our academicians (scientists, educationists, archaelogists, historians, etc.) in reaching what our humble and beloved Prophet Muhamad (p.b.u.h.) uttered (from the Quran) when he succeeded in upholding the true teachings of God :

“Truth has (now) Arrived, and Falsehood Perished : For falsehood is (by its nature) Bound to perish.” (Quran 17:81)

Thus, all of us would be pious followers of God and his Prophet who preached:

“(O man), follow not that whereof thou hast no knowledge. Lo! The hearing and the sight and the heart of each of these it will be asked.” (Quran 17:36)
Both religious scholars and academicians should play their part and neither should be arrogant enough to claim monopoly of knowledge pertaining to religious affairs. As a matter of fact, until academicians like Royal Prof. Ungku A. Aziz (vice-chancellor, UM)., Prof. Madya Mohd Yunus Mohd Noor (deputy vice chanceller, UM) and Dr Omar Farouk (Master of Za’ba College, UM) take an active role in leading other Muslims, Islam will definitely remain far behind.

Matters such as this should be taken intellectually and in Islam’s spirit, which teaches us to be patient and tolerant, uphold the spirit of confidence but not the spirit of arrogance, and which invites us to express ourselves and yet listen to others.

As a Muslim who has high hopes and ideals of Islam, I can’t help but feel sad and ashamed by the immature attitude of our religious leaders (who often react rather emotionally).

If they were confident enough of the authenticity of the hadith and even more so the Quran, they would have advised all Muslims to read Encik Kassim’s book and evaluate the contents for themselves.

Didn’t the Quran say that we are :
“those who listen to the Word and follow the best meaning in it, Those are the ones whom God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding.” (Quran 39:18)

To me, telling people to stop listening to Encik Kassim and not to read his book is quite similar to the situation where the pagan Arabs advised others not to listen to Prophet Muhamad’s (p.b.u.h) call to Islam just because they were afraid they couldn’t prove him wrong.

With all this sadness and shame, how do we stand? Still with hope and faith as the Quran points out :
“So lose not heart,
nor fall into despair,
for ye must gain mastery
If ye are true in Faith.” (Quran 3:139)

Can we use Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible?