Thursday, January 23, 2014

Seeking For The Eternal Sunshine

I could see tons of books falling down like snowflakes from sky. I felt so excited and waiting for those books to fall on ground gently. Then I picked it up and thinking: “Precious knowledge is only coming from sky, none of us may write such a knowledgeable book except what comes from sky."

Indeed, I told my friends that I believe that books are falling from sky while I was 5 years old. They were laughing at my silly idea and I didn’t know why. I was dreaming the same scene almost every day, the same books, same blue sky, and I was waiting patiently for their arrival. As time goes by, I managed to realize that none of the books are falling from sky dramatically. Those books are written by different authors and being published at market, whether it’s imaginary fairytale or nonfiction, never dropped from the high sky.

“Why you choose to be a Muslim?” One of my friends asked.

That’s an interesting question of my choice. Living as a free will human, I do have my choice to live my life without restriction. I may consume beer and enjoy my life whenever wherever I want just like any ordinary Chinese young man. But I choose to be such a “Religious” Muslim? Isn’t it hard to bear that I can’t consume pork and live freely who I want to be? I am not raised up from a cultural Muslim family, also have no idea what Islam really about before I turned into 20 years old. It would be seems like that I have no reason to live my life as a Muslim, at least not culturally influenced or forced by anyone in whatever you name it situation.

This kind of question is sort of like: “Why you choose to be a Muslim faithfully while the other Muslim not even cares about it?” No offence though, I’m trying hard to describe a two-way movement in our community. Can’t be denied that there are more and more non Muslim revert to Islam recently, also some of the Muslim is getting away from Islam silently. Few of the silent Muslim might ask me that question sometimes, “Why YOU choose to be Islam while I’m not even interested with that anymore? Are you so eager to get married with someone by converting yourself into Islam?”

Yeah, Non Muslim can’t marry any Muslim unless they embraced Islam in Malaysia. That’s explained a lot while we notice some of the revert Muslim don’t practice Islam at all. At the same time, we can’t let this strange phenomena to deny the existence of sincere people who seeking the grace of Allah. Everyone has their right to choose what kind of life they wanted, but most of us are fear of the darkness, sickness, death, poorness and tragedy. We don’t know what might happen next in our life, we look into the mirror and asking ourselves “Why am I here? What is my role exactly on this earth?” We were crying while we lost our loved one.

Eventually our inner feeling lead us to a simple question: Where is God?

Left : I studied at this Chinese School before
Right : Registered my Islam identity at Perak Islamic Department

At the moment I reached the Perak Islamic Deparment, I was looking at the Chinese School on my left that I studied for 11 years. I still remember there were only 6 Malay students in our school, we were learning in Chinese dialect and completely locked out from knowing anything regarding Islam. When our class entered Moral subject, those Malay students from different classes might gathered in another classroom to learn Islam subject from Ustazah. Sometime I was looking at the Cupola (Kubah) structure right on top of the Islamic Department building and wondering what’s that supposed to mean. I had been studying beside Islamic Department for 11 years and I had no idea what Islam briefly about except political movement and hatred. We were trained to close our ears to stay firm with our own family’s religion and cultural, none of the Islamic rule should come and tear us apart. Perhaps I should call it as Islamophobia in ordinary Chinese school.

Compared to religion, I would say that I prefer science and philosophy while I was studying at secondary school. Every time after I woke up from the morning, the first question I would ask myself is: “Why am I here?” The emptiness was haunting my heart and gives me unsecure feeling. Therefore I would try to search for the meaning of life in a way more realistic method. I believe there must be eternal answer for every doubt in our life, it mustn’t be self assumption by anyone and none of us may deny the TRUTH. When the TRUTH is revealed, everyone must be impressed and awaken their heart to the purpose of life. Science is a great observation of creature and universe, while philosophy leads me to think out of the box regarding life.

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. In more casual speech, by extension, "philosophy" can refer to "the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group".

I know that I’m Chinese, I shouldn’t involve myself too much into Malay’s community especially Islam is registered as Malaysia’s federal religion. This kind of federal law should be keeping me out of “Malaysia’s Islam”, but I believe Almighty Creator never differ His servants with skin color and race. Thus what I am looking for is the purpose of life, not how to live like someone else who is irrelevant to that. I don’t learn Islam from people, because I fully understand that none of us may portray the role of saints. (Especially prophet Muhammad saw is the seal or the last of the prophets) The reason I choose to be Muslim is due to the TRUTH from Islam itself regardless of any negative example from certain Muslim, like Taliban, terrorism, Syiah etc.

The significant difference between reverted Muslim and “Outgoing” Muslim is, reverted Muslim tend to explain the impressive Truth from Islam while “Outgoing” Muslim more to condemn the negative side of certain Muslim community. As stated by the author of “We Are A Muslim, Please”, Zaiba Malik :

Full article :

Assimilation versus multiculturalism. This had become a major debate in Bradford and around the country. Then five years later the debate resurfaced — this time its reach was global and its tone much more extreme. On Valentine’s Day, 1989, Iran’s spiritual leader announced a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses. He declared that it was the duty of all Muslims around the world to execute this enemy of Islam.

The fatwa came just weeks after hundreds of Muslims had gathered in Bradford’s city centre to set light to the controversial novel and demand that it be banned. Now the book-burners advocated violence. “Rushdie is a mad dog! He must die! Rushdie, you are dead!” they shouted in support of the call to kill. What had previously been a fairly academic discussion around freedom of speech and expression developed into hard questions about the compatibility of being Muslim and British: after all, British people believe in democracy, civilisation, the rule of law; and Muslims, well they believe in suppression, the rule of religion and death.

It wasn’t just my father’s generation who marched in support of the Rushdie fatwa; there were also many youngsters in those crowds who openly stated that “until this devil is dead, we won’t leave him”. These were second generation British-born Muslims, like me, who were creating their own identity, one that was distinct from that of their first-generation parents, whom they often chastised for being far more interested in idle gossip than the words of the prophet Muhammad.

My peers joined organisations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, the controversial radical Islamic party which has since been banned in some countries, although not in Britain. The goal of this movement is to establish an independent state, the caliphate, which will be governed by Islamic law.

These youngsters were well educated, articulate and confident. They had seen anti-racist movements, left-leaning liberal policies, multiculturalism and integrationism come and go; none of these secular approaches had worked.

“We’re still treated and regarded as second-rate citizens. Look, we’re not even protected under British law when our faith is attacked. Time for a change. Time for our own laws,” they would rant.

They argued that the most important rules they had to obey were those laid down in the Koran. They started to follow a more literal, more fundamental interpretation of the holy book, one that hadn’t been diluted by the man-made traditions and customs of their parents.

These people had their own language with words such as jihad, khilafah, kuffir, intifada; they had their own concepts — they talked about oppression, martyrdom, Palestine and Afghanistan. They were sure of who they were and what they wanted. They had no hesitation in providing an answer to the vital choice that Rushdie himself put forward in 1989: “The battle lines are being drawn up ... Secular versus religious, the light versus the dark. Better you choose which side you are on.” Now it was Them against Us.

In the summer of 1989 I couldn’t help but ask myself why are these Islamic demonstrators in Bradford making us stand out even more than we already do? Aren’t things difficult enough for us without the world classifying us as fundamentalists and fanatics?

“I’m not a barbarian!” I wanted to shout. “Look, I’m reading a book by Alan Bennett. How more British do you want me to be?”

But I didn’t. Instead I just kept quiet. I silenced myself and I placed a gag over my religion. And I left Bradford.

I didn’t go that far. Just 70 miles or so down the M1 to Nottingham University to study law and politics. But for me it really was like entering another world. It’s no wonder that Umejee wept uncontrollably the day that she and Dad dropped me off at my hall of residence. She knew what was coming; that the copy of the Koran that she had packed in my suitcase would be placed in a drawer that was to remain closed over the coming years. I didn’t need it where I was going — into the secular world where there are no rules, no strictures.

For me, going to university wasn’t so much a learning curve as a sheer cliff drop. I came across students who were atheists, who injected drugs, who were borderline alcoholics, cross-dressers, rent boys and manic depressives.

If I was to survive in this godlessness, then I had to accept that this was how things were in the real world — people didn’t say things such as Inshallah, God willing, as they did on an almost hourly basis in Bradford. In the real world, people never mentioned God and I was pretty certain they didn’t think about Him. Many of them didn’t even believe in Him.

So I kept quiet and left my Koran in its drawer. It stayed there even once I’d left university to become a journalist. It was easier that way. I could still hear my father reading the Koran to me, but whereas before Dad’s voice had been clearly audible, now it was muffled. It was as though somebody had stuffed cotton wool into my ears. There were the odd times when this constant muted noise felt a bit uncomfortable, a bit unbalancing, but on the whole I learnt to ignore it. And by doing so I could get on with my life pretty much as I had done in the past as a neither-here-nor-there person, a person born with British citizenship, Pakistani values and a Muslim soul.

The reason I don’t judge Islam by Muslim is because none of us are perfect human being. We may make mistake and misjudge against people and even religion. When I notice there’s any mistake made by our Muslim brother and sister, I don’t put the blame on Islam or God. I would ask forgiveness and guidance from Allah to save us from prejudice and wrongdoers. None of the books on earth may represent the perfect image of Islam except the Holy Qur’an that revealed through Prophet Muhammad SAW. Follow the guidance from Allah SWT instead of any personal perception from any human being. This situation can be explained with one example from “The 7th Habits Of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey :

Management is a bottom-line focus: How can I best accomplish certain things? Leadership deals with the top line: What are the things I want to accomplish? In the words of both Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

You can quickly grasp the important difference between the two if you envision a group of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They're the producers, the problem solvers. They're cutting through the undergrowth, clearing it out.

The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle development programs, bringing in improved technologies, and setting up working schedules and compensation programs for machete wielders.

The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, "Wrong jungle!"

But how do the busy, efficient producers and managers often respond? "Shut up! We're making progress."

As individuals, groups, and businesses, we're often so busy cutting through the undergrowth we don't even realize we're in the wrong jungle. And the rapidly changing environment in which we live makes effective leadership more critical than it has ever been -- in every aspect of independent and interdependent life.

We are more in need of a vision or designation and a compass (a set of principles or directions) and less in need of a road map. We often don't know what the terrain ahead will be like or what we will need to go through it; much will depend on our judgment at the time. But an inner compass will always give us direction.

This management skill may apply on our Muslim community. While Islam gives us clear direction to the right path, can we put the blame on a group of Muslim who are going on a ‘wrong path’ efficiently? If we study Islam more precisely, we may notice there is a lot of important Guidance given to the right direction in syariah rather than what style of clothes should we wear. I’m seeking for the eternal sunshine that enlighten human being and never changes a word from it, only Allah the Almighty Creator understand what is the blessed direction for us. Please don’t let astray Muslim to distract humble servants from getting closer to Allah, please show Your Mercy to whom you might want to give Guidance.

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.

(Surat An-Nūr (The Light) - 24:35)

I guess my dream come true. 

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