Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kementerian kita

poetry evening at marie's

Brenda, looking great at dinner

Rough day.Another rejection from another Ministry which is supposed to assist the poor rakyat make a name of Malaysia.Not only that...they treat you rude.Tak mau cakap on the phone, cakap tengah driving.Tak nak reply email, buat bodoh terus.Surat dihantar buat-buat tak dapat.I will email the Ministers directly on this.A small protest must be made.Duit rakyat must go back to rakyat.

Then some smart aleck at the uni told me in a very patronising way, "I do not know how to argue with you.Your tone of voice is too high for me." He's suggesting I was being hysterical.

Gosh...I was just making an enquiry and making a point why something should not be.I got really pissed off!What is it with men? I could have told him kalau bercakap tu, suara boleh kuat sikit tak? Please don't mumble? But I didn't cos' I know..mungkin itu suara yang Allah telah kurniakan kpd dia.Mungkin kotak suara dia dah rosak....

Lepas tu he rang back trying to be helpful over my problem.I appreciated that.But had to tell him firmly,"You better get used to how I speak cos' this is how I am.".I mean how can anyone expect you to change the tone of your voice just because they do not know how to handle a complaint (an enquiry actually). Penat jadi orang Melayu!

Thank God to my Fulbright circle...the reception dinner held for a visiting poet at one of the US Embassy attache's homes was a comfort.Prof Brenda Flanagan read us her poem of a homeless woman in Hawaii (and what was her imagination was a real thing!Even years after she wrote that poem, she got to meet that homeless person again who went to listen to Brenda read a poem on her.Then the lady got upset...maka berlaku lah kejar mengejar...Brenda went to say sorry if what she cooked up about the homeless person hurt her.She asked the woman who she was.Apparently before she went mad, she had a New York City..was a psychiarist...Brenda tak sempat tanya dia macamana dia boleh jadi gila)

Anyway, some 20 people were invited (of different walks of life).I had fun talking and meeting everyone.You tau ada 300 orang kerja kat US Embassy.Macam satu Faculty, huh? Siap ada clinic sendiri and I was sharing a table with Brenda and this nice sincere looking doctor.I felt like I was back in Adelaide.We had lotsa dinners like this (lepas tu was-was makanan ni halal ke tak..ada alcohol ke tak...hahaha.Cook mereka dari Vienna tapi budak pelayan dari Bangladesh tu kata ada yang halal..stew tu campur arak sikit.Hmm alahai...)

Ah well, besok I nak email Shafie Afdal and Azalina nak tanya apa pasal banyak kupik nak bagi duit assist rakyat marhain nak buat simposium ni pun tak boleh.

IIUM Alumni Dinner

Zul and the gang, performing at the dinner

I just wish to thank Anuar who came to me and said hi (also Zul) at the dinner at Nikko this evening.

I enjoyed both talks given by Dato' Saifuddin Abdullah and Prof Kamal.Dato' S was funny (so many anecdotes related to IIUM which I think he created himself! I was sitting next to his wife and asked where he got those stories.Datin also thot he "pandai2 karang sendiri")Prof. K was deep.

It's nice to know leaders of both parties (all IIUM alumni)could sit and dine together.Prof K said we should rise above party politics (and celebrate ummatic politics...ummm I think he said ummatic politics.Anuar, pls correct if I get it wrong!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chomsky on Gaza

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Guess where?

Guess where I was today?

At 'Save Sg Pusu' meeting with people we had planned to call and meet but the kerajaan negeri beat us to it (but it would make our job easier).

Our MP was there but something he said had upset penduduk setempat.I was surprised too mulut Dr Hassan Ali macam lepas juga...wough. Sometimes we have to think ahead before we speak.I'll send him an email on this.Nak mengingatkan sensitiviti rakyat jelata! :)

But during focus group discussion, byk juga kita bincangkan.Yang paling noisy, teka siapa? :)) Iyalah...I have to raise pasal sungai nak mati sebab uncontrolled development done (bukan uncontrolled...saja buat bodoh!). At one point, I terpaksa kata asala tanah gombak tu tanah pertanian..apsal bangunkan juga..dah la pencemaran alam sana sini..we should slow down dev.Pembangunan harta tanah bukan amsa depan.Pertanian is.Bangunkanlah we spoke on turning Sg Pusu into a weekend gateaway (buat la resort kat mana2 sungai..dulu kita ada Mimaland for rakyat KL/PJ to run away..since we have no hill resorts/beaches..Genting is very Jinjang...sapa nak pi tempat berjudi nak berehat?)

I hope there will be one perkampungan tradisi where I can learn buat bahulu, print batik, weave baskets...hahaha...we miss kampong life, huh? Kalau ada rakit, lagi best...

The contractors kept saying kita perlu pembangunan..kita perlu pembangunan...they meant THEY need perbangunan...the people are saying we need pembangunan...bangunan BUKAN Pembangunan..sampai bila kita nak sedar?We need pembangunan that goes back to the people (generate income for them) bukan satu pihak je untung, yang lagi satu sepanjang hayat berutang nak bayar pinjaman perumahan.Haji Zainal (my remisier friend) kata all of us are bankcrupts sebab hutang byk..pinjaman rumah, cars, loans itu ini...

Sampai bila kita nak sedar kita jgn jadi consumers all the time.

Allah's the word

Why non Muslims cannot use the word Allah.
Dr Khalif Muammar

1-There is no nas qat’i (conclusive/definitive evidence) from the Qur’an and the Sunnah on this matter. All the evidences put forward by those who permit it, do not show that it is permissible for non Muslim to use the word Allah. Since there is no conclusive evidence from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, this matter falls under zanniyyat, something which is based on human discretion. Muslim scholars need to base their argument on historical, epistemological, theological and semantic analysis. There will be right and wrong opinions depend on who has the strong argument. Definitely wisdom and in-depth analysis must be stressed, and not just literal interpretation. Although there is no conclusive evidence this does not mean that we cannot reach certainty in dealing with this issue. In this short but compact paper I will provide conclusive arguments which will demonstrate that non Muslim should not be permitted to use the word Allah in any ways to refer to their God even in their publication for their own community. As long as they live in Muslim country they have to respect their Muslim neighbors.
2-The fact is that the word Allah even though it was used before Islam, it has been Islamized, the meaning of it is no longer the same as before. By permitting non Muslim to use it we actually doing deislamization. We are reverting the course which was done by our Prophet. Hence, we will be responsible for making more Muslim become confused.
Professor Wan Mohd Nor says the context of Arabs and the Malay world is different, non Muslim in our land especially did not use the word Allah before this, there is no such word in their language before, in the original work they called it Yahweh, why not they call tuhan Yahweh. Therefore, it is evident that this issue is brought to confuse the Muslims.
They wanted Allah become the name of other gods as well. The fact is that our God is not the same as the god of Christianity, their god can have son, it is a humanized god.
3. We cannot equate God with Allah. Because the word God is generic and the word Allah is a proper name. Therefore when we say la ilaha illallah it is not there is no god but God, this does not make sense, rather it means there is no god but Allah.
When we analyze the use of Allah in the Qur’an there are two forms: general and specific. The verse in surah al-Tawbah: 30 only tells that Christians say messiah is the son of God or Jews say that Uzayr is the son of God. Other oft-quoted verse regarding this issue is..”if indeed thou ask them who it is that created the heavens and the earth, they would be sure to say, “Allah.”(al-Zumar, 39:38). Here the word Allah cannot mean the true God because they don’t know who Allah is simply because no prophet was sent to them. Therefore, the use of Allah here is to mean God in general. Therefore there are two usages of Allah in the Qur’an, the general one and the specific one. The spesific use such as that “verily the religion before Allah is Islam” (innaddina indallahi al-Islam), (Ali Imran: 19). Allah here is not just god but the true God.
4-The spirit behind this issue is religious pluralism. They are saying that Muslim God is the same as God in other religion. They wanted to convey that we, Christians and Muslims, have the same God. This is against Islamic creed. Our Aqidah tells us that other god is not the true God (La ilaha ghayruh). When we renounce religious pluralism, it does not mean that we also reject religious tolerance and religious diversity. In fact Muslims are the one who introduce these concept to the world. The charter of Madinah is the conclusive evidence on this.

5-Prof. Wan Mohd Nor also said there is limit of meaning for each word we use, the word wahyu is not the same as revelation, we cannot say that I receive wahyu, but you can say that in English. “I got revelation last night”. Obviously they don’t differentiate between wahyu and ilham (intuition).
Every word that has been Islamized is understood in the framework of Islamic worldview. Words such as Allah, masjid, salat, wahyu, rasul, ulama, are some words that cannot be used by other religious community and vise versa. Therefore we cannot call our ulama as paderi and masjid to become temple. In masjid you don’t just ask from God, and you don’t worship idol in it. So what we do in a masjid is substantially different from what they do in their holy place. The main reason that you came to masjid is to submit yourself, to obey Him. Therefore, sujud (prostation) is a symbol of submission, this is what sujud means of which the name masjid is derived from.
6-God before Islam is not only Allah, there is a lot of god during the jahiliyyah period. Allah was a general word. The specific names for their god are al-lata, al-uzza, al-manat etc. when Islam came it give new meaning to Allah. Islam did not introduce new word so that it will be easier to teach people about God. The word Allah before Islam is no longer the same compared to the one used after Islam has been established in the Arab country. Allah became the proper name and official name of the true God. Like the word Islam, literally it is submission but it become the official name of a religion.
Non Muslim may acknowledge that God is the Creator, this is in the Rububiyyah level, but they deny the Uluhiyyah part when they commit shirk and believe in polytheism. A Muslim is the one who submit to Allah in the level of Uluhiyyah. At this level Muslims believe only Allah is the true God. They only follow His guidance.
7. If Muslims in other country permit non Muslim to use the word Allah it is a mistake. Muslims in these countries usually do not have the power to stop it. In Indonesia, liberalization of Islam and secularization of Muslim community has long been in place. We in Malaysia are lucky to have a government that takes this matter seriously. Therefore, we must strive hard to prevent the use of Allah by other religious community. And the non Muslim community must understand it is not a quarrel for the sake of a name, but it is about the protection of the Islamic Creed (Aqidah), and this has nothing to do with religious tolerance or intolerance. This is about respecting other religion.
Malaysian Government and its subsidiaries are put on pressure if they do not allow the use of Allah by the Christians. The government will be accused of violating freedom of expression. Evidently, freedom of expression become the highest principle, above all considerations including religious and the interests of the people. The question is do we have to submit to the liberal values propagated by the West? As an independent and sovereign state, we should disregard what others will say if we can prove academically that what we do is the best for our community. As Muslims we should base our values on our religion, why should we let the West dictates their values on us. Certainly they are not superior in matters such as values, ethics and morality. Even if they do, we have the right to have our own values, our own identity.

Mimpi biasa atau dot dot dot?

Some say it's good to dream of snakes.Tanda ada orang nak meminang.Bagi yang belum kawin, OK lah to get excited.Setengah kata ular tu jin.Especially if it's black.

Last nite I dreamt of snakes.Not one but 4! Of varied sizes (but except for one, they were all huge ones).They were not black.Yang pelik..they were all asleep.Senyum pulak tu.

I was up a verandah with tangga (mcm rumah kampong but I didn't get to see all of the house cuma where I stood, facing a laman).I refused to go down for fear of being beaten by the smiling sleeping snakes (ada yang warna gold, ada yang all white.Yang all white ni yang jahat.It's head like senduk and leper.It jumped at me and wanted to belit me.My bro in law yang telah passed away saved me from kena belit.I was saved but at one point, kepala leper ular ni mengesel2 my tangan wanting to shake hands with me.I pushed it away).

I woke up feeling eeeiiiyukkk!

For those who are good at interpreting dreams, tell me what my dream meant.Dina said it's bad omen. Alamak! May Allah protect me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Vision and Mission

If you work too long in your organisation and become eye witness to so many brain drains and brain circulations (go check wikipedia if you are not sure what I mean here), you'll notice how your organisation's vision and mission becomes diluted or that people seem not to care anymore.Or seems to forget.

IIUM thrives on its triple Is'CE: islamicisation, integration, internationalisation and comprehensive excellence. In the early years of my stint at IIUM (stint? like I'm thinking of moving on, huh?), young recruits were encouraged to enrol in islamicisation course in which colleagues from different disciplines would share with one another how they integrate and 'islamicise' knowledge of their fields e.g what is Islamic Architecture or Islamic Built Environment.Wough..I loved those days and we bonded.I was better informed of so many things I had taken for granted.I went beyond my own field (English Literature).

Today, 20 years down the road...I have grave concerns that some of us might be trapped by trivial things in life where in some instances we place individual needs before needs of the ummah.Take my Kulliyyah for example, it is called Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (we integrate knowledge of both worlds...what may be considered worldly cos' most of the subjects deal with human relations, human situations are studied together with what many see as theological, spiritual, religious). I have heard suara2 sumbang who seek to separate the two.Worse there is a proposal for some disciplines to be on their own like Language and Literature to have its own faculty.This is like moving backwards.Any graduate today will not survive being a specialist in one area anymore.She/he has to be jack/jill of all trades so that in difficult times like now, she/he would be able to move around more flexibly.Our grads who graduated with this kinda background are everyhwere in different industries:diplomatic service, oil and gas, advertising, human resource, politics, etc etc.Not everyone ends up teaching (which is mulia, I don't deny).We have the tendency to dismantle what works.Macam tikus baiki labu.This is because we fail to internalise our own organisation's vision and mission.We want to fix what is not broken instead of moving on, from peak to peak.

Ahhhh..I have a few years left (my bond with IIUM).I know I will leave some day.We all have to.Kalau tak pencen, kita mati.Kalau tak mati, kita resign.There are a few courses I will enrol in.I need new interests, new peaks.According to Oprah, this is the best time to re-evaluate your life.Ada orang kaya berhenti kerja nak jual pizza/cakes cos' they find themselves in the pizzas they cook.Heh.

I have discovered what my strengths are (selain aku garang).Will need to work on these more.You women out there, life does not stop at 40 something,Byk benda kita boleh buat selain kais pagi makan pagi.

Just have faith in yourself and that rezeki Allah is everywhere.

Monday, February 16, 2009

No news is not good news

I have kept myself busy in my own ways.The usual ways.Dining out with foreign guests, theatre, movies (at home, with my gal and Nik).Sometimes it's like not enough, huh? Takkan kerjanya makan tidur.And we had a one day seminar on Msian Lit in English.Why did I feel it played like an old record.I told Zul I needed new interest/s.I rasa byk benda kita buat ni superficial.Mengikut-ngikut telunjuk orang lain who had been there before us.I don't find any joy repeating what had been said or done before.Orang cakap pasal body, kita pun sibuk nak cakap pasal body (why not soul? why not mind?)

I experimented with writing science fiction last nite. A few more pages and it's done. I have not enjoyed my own stories for so long.Hahah.Penulis bermusim. Azian told me my story 'Teh di Bukit Tinggi' is included in DBP anthology (I won consolation prize.Dengar cerita ada orang voted it top 3 tapi ada yang lain kata ah..cerita ni biasa je.Whatever.It's all about taste masing-masing, kan?)

I loved the exchange between veteran writers Prof Muhd Haji Salleh and Wong Phui Nam at the seminar.Wong kata English writing macam terpinggir dan dia macam kecewa sebab takda recognition from authorities.But Prof Muhd kata don't write for those sectors but for those who care/who read.Macamanapun mesti ada yang akan baca.Biar sedikit.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

13th Biennial Symposium on Asia-Pacific Literatures and Cultures

It's intellectual party time again, folks! When we hosted an Asia-Pac Indigenous Plays Festival some 4-5 years ago, we had so much fun and cultural a-go-go.

The English Language and Literature Dept at IIUM is honoured (once again) to host the 13th biennial symposium on Asia-Pac Literatures and Cultures where only choice speakers speak.

Pls register early (because it's cheaper to do so and also because seats are limited)
More info here
Not meant for academics only.Sapa-sapa berminat (dan berduit) boleh datang.Daftar awal.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Tuah yang angau (Puteri Gunung Ledang the musical, season 3)

Semalam dapat tiket free pi tengok premier PGL. My second show (season 2, bayar sendiri, was mesmerising walaupun ada critics kata ini bukan teater melayu tapi dah di broadwaykan. I suka broadway broadway pun.I think Tiara telah berjaya mengangkat martabat Bahasa Melayu ke aras yang tinggi sebab Bahasa Melayunya cantik dan sedap didengar and kita tak malu ada teater melayu begini hebat.I really liked.I ni peminat Tiara bila dia berkelakuan macam ni.Pejuang bahasa yang lain pun tak boleh buat apa dia buat dan Tiara bukan lahir Melayu pun! Inilah jiwa merdeka yang sebenarnya).

So bila first half of PGL screwed up (sound systemnya terganggu) dan Tiara sebagai PGL terpaksa nyanyi pakai microphone besar, I betul2 kesian.Ini malam yang ramai Tan Sri-Tan Sri, Datok2.Spotted were 2 Ministers (Tok Pa and that KL guy Minister..apa ke namanya...).I sat infront of one Tan Sri (former KSN...heh, glamour gitu) and I heard one conversation at the back, someone commented..."sebab malam ni malam Jumaat...dosa pi teater..)

Kesian.But they picked up after that.Memang this is the best show (they brought in so many pembaharuan dari segi performance...kapal besar was brought onstage and a lot of PGL berubah from rags within split seconds..macam David Copperfield! and Adlin..oh! he's so funny! went one way onstage but within split seconds went upstage from the audience's side.Like chipsmore!Now you see, now you don't.Hebat architecture stage dia).

Teman2 di Perak...ada 4 tahun lagi kalau nak bertukar2 MB.Heh.MB baru alumni IIUM.Was in the same panel at one point, speaking on isu2 bahasa, sastera and power relations (masa tu dia baru keluar ISA, bawak van burok lagi).

Rezeki Allah ni tak leh nak kata lah.

nota kaki: tajuk blog 'Tuah yang angau' sebab dalam teater ni Tuah fell in love with Puteri Gunung Ledang.Can you imagine legenda yang terkenal geeky dengan taat setianya itu tiba2 angau dgn pompuan cantik? Peluk2 atas gunung..nyanyi2 berkejar2 di celah bukit dan pokok? Memang kelakar tapi lagu2 dia sedap2 so kita pun tak kisah sangat.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Save Sungai Pusu (River Project)

We had our first discussion yesterday. S and Prof. F (from Dev and Kull of Engineering respectively) were kind enough to sit with me on this issue and we have plans. :))

I pray that what were discussed yesterday would work accordingly.It is a challenge to see it through but I have a good feeling, it will work. If we can turn River Pusu to River means punting! It would also mean more birds/flamingos coming.More fish.Clearer water.More greens.

It would mean giving life to IIUM Gombak.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Boy from Amman

Zohdi (not his real name) is a sweet looking young man. A bright student who won a scholarship to study at a local uni but he had a dream. To excel and to study abroad.His father, a peneroka, loves him so much that he'd give him the world (he's the only son in the family).

So Zohdi went off to Jordan to study.He was interested in everything.His brain was like a scanner on good days and like a sponge on others.

However, Zohdi went crazy without finishing his degree. They 'karan' his brain to subdue him.He's on medication but his dad says on bad days, he'd punch his dad, wanting to knife him.

But everyone loves Zohdi.He's very chatty and lovable.Yesterday I had the honour to meet Zohdi in person.I felt so privileged.He had a syurga look on him.Ever smiling and ever transmitting love and peace to those around him (when not in his 'knife' mood, I guess).

He saw Nik wearing a Korean T-shirt."Brother, you should be in Korea", he said.I thought that was so 'clever' and so 'alert'. There are moments when he'd go into his own world.Gelak sorang-sorang.And I feel the pain of a father.

I write this in memory of the boy who went amok in Virginia Tech a couple of years ago and another recently (same uni). What is it about young men (bright young men) going mad? Is it emotional repression? Or salah parents and institutions where they study, driving the kids to insanity?

As a teacher and parent, I have my worries.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

February guests

I cooked Chinese today (with Bibik). Had to do the marketing at Tmn Tun pasar yesterday so that we could start early today.Memang early giler.By 12, everything's done.I should have been a chef.Would have made more dough (pun intended).

We had guests from China and Dr Kazi from Dhaka. What better way to spend your Sunday than have lessons on cultural diversity? And eat and eat? :)

I plan to get the Chechen boys to visit next so I can cook Chechen pulak.