Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More on protests against the knighthood conferment

Hmm....why is it that this news does not appear in any of the local papers including latest updates but already published by Reuters World News just over 1 hour ago???

And of course, since it is part of the PAS members street demo in front of the British Embassy, this incident was also reported in their website, Harakah Daily.

Here's an excerpt of the news:

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -
Supporters of Malaysia's hardline
Islamic party protested outside the British embassy on
Wednesday against the award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie,
whose novel the "Satanic Verses" outraged Muslims worldwide.

Chanting "Destroy Salman Rushdie" and "Destroy Britain,"
some 30 members of the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia urged
Britain to withdraw the honor or risk the consequences.

"This has tainted the whole knighthood, the whole hall of
fame of the British system," party treasurer Hatta Ramli told
reporters after the party handed a protest note to embassy

"The British government must be responsible because it has
created a sudden feeling of anger not just on Salman Rushdie
but on the British government," he said. "They have to bear the
consequences." he said.

About 40 policemen, including a dozen armed with batons,
stood by. A spokesman at the British High Commission was not
immediately available for comment.

Rushdie, whose book prompted late Iranian leader Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a 1989 fatwa death warrant against
him for blasphemy, was awarded a knighthood last week for
services to literature in Queen Elizabeth's birthday honors


Anyways, this knighthood award has been gaining a mixed reviews even amongst the British themselves. But somehow, organizing street demo by chanting "hancur Salman" ( destroy Salman) and "Jahanam Britain" (Go to Hell, Britain) shows the typical emotional response from the hardliners just like their Indonesian brothers. But of course, those Indonesian hardliners go way over the board, rather on the extreme end by burning things, destroying valuables or anything along the way just to accentuate their anger demonstration.

Why are they chanting "Jahanam Britain" for? Why the country itself? There are like over 3 millions of their muslim brothers and sisters there and they are also british. Why cant they write: "We stand united against this knighthood conferment" or something like that on some banner? Typical hysterical act.

Oh and by the way, I need to learn on how to post the exact photo-feed of the online news on my blog. Can anyone help me here? Zewt, Idlan, Zaki, anyone?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Karen Armstrong: First appearance in Malaysia

I was actually so very interested to come and listen to Karen Armstrong' talk at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel last Saturday. However, at this state of broke, I have lost the motivation to go out much unless if i had to, like to work and so on. Seriously, I am hoping that my financial state will get rectified soon by next month. It is just horrible living under the notion that u r almost totally lost your financial freedom.

Sure, credit cards are the only backups I have right now. But they are meant for more important expenditures like car petrol. I have to just lay low and wait till my supposedly new change of salary status will materialize. Life kinda suck when u r so skint. But i am grateful anyway that i consider myself lucky that i can still breathe and eat and walk and talk and move and pretty much do the normal things.

Anyways, I admire Dr. Karen Armstrong for her willingness and her courage to speak her mind on the comparative religions in a rational sense albeit being a Christian (or ex-nun). Although some of her books have been banned in Malaysia, of which i think was super-ridiculous that the public weren't given the chance to read about Islam from a neutral and wise non-muslim's point of view, she still made her appearance in Kuala Lumpur to speak about the role of a religion in the 21st century.

Just as Malaysia still fresh from Lina Joy appeal case that has caught the world attention on how Malaysian judiciary system deal with personal interfaith issues when it comes to dropping the word "Islam" on Lina's malaysian identity card (mykad), Armstrong's view on Islam in general should be taken into the perspective with all due respect. I used to admire another prolific non-muslim scholar, Professor Edward Said, a Christian Palestinian who had never ceased to fight about what he deemed right with respect to the whole Palestine-Israel issues. But the wise man has left the world in 2003 due to chronic leukemia. One of his infamous books is "Orientalism".

I have found this article from NST on an interview with Karen Armstrong and her takes on the perception of Islam and Muslims:

Karen Armstrong has studied religions for more than two decades and what she has learnt from her scholarship is not difference, but compassion. ANIZA DAMIS speaks to her about Muslims, and why she is a passionate defender of Islam

Q: You are constantly talking about how Islam is spoken of negatively, and you defend it. Why?

A: For many reasons. In my own life, I’ve known how painful it is to be misrepresented. Second, it offends me intellectually.

It gave me a feeling of dread, because it had been the faceless defamation of the Jews in Europe that had made it possible for Hitler to create the death camps. That was a tremendous shock to European and Western sensibilities. We’d prided ourselves on being an enlightened people. And yet we seem to have learnt nothing from it.

Now, when articles and inaccurate, unfair portrayals, even unconscious defamation of Islam happens, it goes on the airwaves immediately, onto the web, and it convinces Muslims that the West really is Islamophobic and is out to destroy Islam. It revives all these fears, and is a gift to extremists who want to recruit people. We simply cannot afford this kind of inaccurate, distorted view.

Q: You have spent your life studying religion. Do you find it offensive that people think that you don’t have credibility to talk about Islam?

A: When Muslims say that, yes. I wouldn’t have to do this if Muslims were out there. If Muslims feel that strongly about non-Muslims popping up and speaking, then let these critics of mine — let them speak to the American Congress. Let them try and speak to Western people in a way that Western people can understand. Then people like (American professor of International Studies and Islamic Affairs) John Esposito and me wouldn’t be necessary.

Q: So why do you think there aren’t any Muslims willing to talk?

A: I’ve explained to Muslims: "I can’t spend the rest of my life explaining your religion for you. There comes a time when it must be over to you". For the older generation, I think it’s just difficult for many of them. If you put your head above the parapet, it’s dangerous. If you’re a refugee from Iraq, for example, you don’t want to stand up in public unnecessarily, and be counted as saying this, that and the other. And I think the atmosphere in the US, especially after Sept 11, 2001 was so unpleasant and that’s why people would shrink from it. But people should try.

Q: Is it possible to have a multi-religious community or nation living peacefully? Or do you need secularism as a base or at its centre to make it work?

A: Under Islam in the past, there were harmonious communities living together, famously in Muslim Spain, which was unique. There’s nothing like it in the rest of Europe. Similarly, the first period of Jerusalem’s history was light years away from anything we have got today. (The caliph) Omar, when he conquered Jerusalem, brought the Jews back. They hadn’t been allowed to live there under Christian rule. And there was a Christian majority in Jerusalem until the time of the Crusades. It was known as the City of Dhimmis (non-Muslims).

Q: But these days, the Dhimmis believe that you would not be equal unless you are treated as equals.

A: Yes. The Dhimmi system wouldn’t work today. We don’t have the kind of economies that can support an egalitarian ideal. That’s important, too. It’s not just a question of us all becoming more civilised and nicer people — you need the economic basis for it. There must be absolute equality, one person one vote. And that is probably the best way of achieving (a harmonious society). But there’s always going to be tension.

Q: How would you advise a Muslim majority that it has to adjust the concept of a Muslim state?

A: This is one of the big questions occupying the Muslim world now, not just Malaysia. Because of the impetus in the Quran, how do you create a modern Muslim state? There is yet no solution. There are various models, and it’s a difficult thing. But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Q: More particularly since 9/11, Muslims have felt under siege from the non-Muslim world. Is this justified?

A: Yes. They are right to be afraid. If I were a Muslim in the United States, Europe or the Middle East, if I were Iraqi or Palestinian, I would feel besieged. And the way it is presented in the Western press, Islam is often very unpleasant. The difficulty is Muslims have got to be creative about it. Because when people feel they are being besieged, then up come the barricades.

Q: Muslims are reacting violently to things they disagree with. But while there are those who are politicised and willing to go out and make themselves heard, there are also those who live quietly.

A: Well, I have to say, the press is largely responsible for this. During the Danish cartoon crisis, a poll found that 97 per cent of youth were offended by the cartoons but they were also appalled by the violence of some of the protesters. And that voice was not picked up at all. Because it’s not news.

And that is what repeatedly happens. I saw it in New York after 9/11, when a fatwa was issued giving Muslims permission to fight other Muslims in the war against terror. That was not published in the New York Times, even though imam Faisal Rauf asked for it to be. You don’t get the moderate voice represented fairly in the media.

Q: Where does throwing a tantrum come from? When Muslims were objecting (during the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad), protesters were threatening to kill people.

A: Well, a few criminals do this. These people are not Muslims, they’re criminals, I’m sorry. The vast majority of Muslims are not threatening to kill anybody.

Q: How is it possible to find a Muslim voice that is going to reach out to people in a peaceable way?

A: There are plenty of them around. And if they don’t get the same media coverage as the others, that’s not their fault.

Q: You talk about the "militantly pious". How can "moderate Muslims" push forward compassion and justice? How do you speak above the cacophony of the militants?

A: The militant ones are a minority. Even those who might feel threatened by modernity — some would call them "fundamentalists" — only a tiny proportion would take part in acts of terror. What I would like to see is people finding more imaginative ways to speak to the non-Muslim world, to catch the imagination of the time and the media. This will take creativity.

Q: The problem is not just between Muslims and the West but also between Muslims and Muslims. There are Muslims who are, perhaps, insecure in their identities, and they are trying to push that forward.

A: Don’t think that Muslims are alone in having internecine quarrels. Muslims have the added difficulty of the so-called, misnamed, "war against terror". Culture is always contested. It’s always the case that some people have a different idea of how they want to see their country from the mainstream. You have to expect this and deal with it in a creative adult manner.

It’s no good trying to force people to do anything — that is un-Muslim. When you try to thrust something down someone’s throat, they will become more extreme and more belligerent. And so, on both sides, the problem escalates. The only way is for the so-called "liberals" to try to listen, really listen, to the fear and anxiety that lies underneath some of these hardline positions. These are anxieties that no society can safely ignore or avoid.


Not that I am entirely relying on the non-muslims (or the so-called non-believers, infidels and so on) to relay the message about Islam but I feel that Muslims should not be taunted by it as long as they are being represented without discrimination and prejudism. Such was the impetus that has been upholded by Armstrong verbally and on her published materials. Speaking of a good da'ei (preacher) of comparative religion issues, unfortunately we have lost another great vocal fighter of Islam, Sheikh Ahmad Deedat who died of a long term illness in 2005. I was not sure whether Armstrong has ever met this eloquent and articulate man, this honourable Deedat herself, but if she had, it would be of an empowering connection.

Due to the highly sensitive nature, it is a common case whereby one reacts defensively whenever interfaith religion is brought up. Consequently, the whole debate will go on endlessly resulting in more harm than good. For example, a Muslim would naturally feel offended when a non-muslim says something out of his arse. However, little did the muslim realise that such reaction is a vice versa to a non-muslim when a Muslim speaks of his religion in a matter of presumptions based on the muslim's lack of knowledge of the other person's belief. Therefore, we do need people like Karen Armstrong who stands on the politically neutral side trying to convey the message without sounding too obtrusive or absentminded. I myself am most certainly feel uncomfortable having to listen to some angry people arguing on religion acting like someone devoid of knowledge. The next thing I would do is to "abandon ship" right away.

There were times when I have clearly made a mistake of making my non-muslim friends believe that like anyone who has embraced an "organized religion", I only picked on whatever qualities i like about Islam and failed to show the real beauty of it in order to justify some of my naughty behaviours. It was as if I dictated on what i want, and hoping that my non-muslims friends would find that Islam is actually quite a simple teaching really. No later after that, I felt like i am some sort of a certain cult preacher who personally interpretes religion according to the current world demands and trends or probably worse. My bad....Astaghfirullah hal-adzeem ( Forgive me O Allah the Mighty One) I quickly resort to Al-Quran , hadith and revising back about my own religi0n so as to not come up with more silly, misleading messages in the future. I have decided from that onwards to be extra careful next time i am faced with more queries on Islam.

The art of a good debate has been stated in the Quran (16:125):

Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.

Like Amstrong has said earlier and I quote: " When Muslims say that, yes. I wouldn’t have to do this if Muslims were out there. If Muslims feel that strongly about non-Muslims popping up and speaking, then let these critics of mine — let them speak to the American Congress. Let them try and speak to Western people in a way that Western people can understand. Then people like (American professor of International Studies and Islamic Affairs) John Esposito and me wouldn’t be necessary" - a clear reminder to us Muslims to be more prepared and stand strongly and united on what we believe with clear mind, endowed with a sea of knowledge, charms, people skills, positive aura and charismatic presentation that we are the total opposite of the terrorist propaganda that has been typecasted on us whether we are aware or not. From Hollywood to the mass media, the Muslims have been looked upon as the villains of the 21st century. Rather than jumping and screaming hysterically at such accusations, we need to self-reflect, equip ourselves with more knowledges and strengthen our economy to face the world challenges for future sustenance.

If the Jews have managed to learn to survive and have progressed immensely since World War II, why cant us Muslims? Forget about all those silly sectarian differences, petty issues including why Sharifah Amani has boldly shaved her head off to be in the Muallaf movie character, and so on, and focus on what is best for the ummah in the country and worldwide. Thanks to people like Yasmin Ahmad who dares to go beyond the comfort zone despite receiving loads of criticisms just because of her unorthodox messages. There are like 1.0 billions of us and yet, no matter what, things/history will repeat by itself. And i blame the culture, the traditions and the global propaganda for ruining the holy intentions. All we need is for more and more of us to shift out of the old paradigm, and do what we can to contribute for the sake of the ummah. If we want to earn the respect we seek, we must prove them wrong and justify our act with a clear conscience. After all, Islam is the embodiment of peace and hence its root word, salam which means peace.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hat-trick winners of Roland Garros 2007

Congratulations to Justine Henin and Rafael Nadal for sealing a hat-trick win in this year's French Open (Roland Garros) in Paris, France.

Justine Henin, Women Single Champion

Rafael Nadal just could not contain his joy any longer

Nadal dropped himself the moment Federer's ball went out of the court: Ecstatic!

With this win, Nadal has managed to increase the winning gap between him and Roger Federer with the Spaniard acquiring 8-4 wins over the Swiss in 12 matches. He remains undoubtedly as the King of the Clay Court for another year.

Meanwhile, the 4th French Open win (the first win was in 2003 followed by the 3 consecutive wins from 2005 to 2007) was a really emotional one for Henin having gone through a series of ups and downs of her life for the past few months as reported on the BBC Sport. As such, the petite Belgian has dedicated her title to her family.

Wimbledon will begin soon and I am sure Roger Federer is collecting himself up for another round of Grand Slam match. He may no longer be able to achieve all Grand Slam titles having lost to Nadal at Roland Garros this year but he must work really hard nevertheless to redeem his number one ranking in the next two remaining Grand Slams : Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.