Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Late Night Ramblin' In Turbans

I just thought of saying a few words, I ain't got much time nowadays, but I sometimes feel compelled to write. I haven't expressed myself very articulately lately other than the incessant banal blurbs of Facebook or Twitter.

So, today I just want to comment on the "kepimpinan ulama'" because since elections are close, many people have been piping about that on Facebook, I'm not sure if it's because my friends and I have already reached that age when you're suddenly bold about your political views or something, but my news feed seems to be awash with an impressive wave of political battle cries for ulama' leadership.

Imma come clean and say I ain't got no fancy holy book excerpts or quotes from authoritative figures, it's merely my opinion of what I think about this.

"Ulama'" comes from the word "ilm", so you kinda get a rough idea that these people are people with privileged knowledge about the religion. There might be other definitions of ulama', but I'm going to stick with the context of how people treat the word "ulama'" in Malaysia. i.e. imagine Nik Aziz. Not saying that he's the one I'm referring to, but just to give you a picture.

Some people vouch for the ulama' to be the ideal leader, mainly because they know their stuff, they're virtuous, and if they know all the ways of the religion and because religion pervades all aspects of life, including politics, then they must know the right way to do it. Ideally speaking, yes.

However, what we live in is a reality, not an ideal. They may know their stuff, but that does not guarantee that they'd be good leaders. I'm not belittling their expertise in any way, nor am I suggesting that there is a division between politics and religion (or maybe I am ?)

If they are specifically trained in only religion, they have devoted their life only to study religion, having spent exorbitant effort and time on memorizing and interpreting scriptures, that does not necessarily guarantee with only the knowledge of the scriptures, you can perform open heart surgery on a patient, for instance.

There are many people in this world, (duh, marah cikgu English buat ayat macam ni), and they play different roles, they have specializations in their respective fields. While the ulama's are experts in their field, there must also be other experts in the applications of these fields, and what makes it work, is good communication and collaboration between the two. You can't expect one person to be everything in its entirety, unless if you're super talented with your God-given multi-talent prowess, and not to say that there aren't any multi-talented ulama's out there.

The ulama's can be the guide to ensure that the economist/scientist/doctor/lawyer/engineer/philosopher/political leader/etc act within the bounds of what's permissible within the religion as well as ensuring they act on the principles and values of the religion, but the ulama' cannot necessarily tell the economist/doctor/lawyer/engineer/philosopher/political leader/etc how to do their job.

I know there are gems like Nik Aziz (this guy again) who's not only an ulama' but also a good leader, but he's been in the field for so long, and he's Kelantanese (har, har, har).

But (okay, cikgu English for sure marah start ayat macam ni #lawakhambar) the problem with having the ulama' as both the ulama' and a political leader is that alluva sudden, this ulama' becomes the axis for everything, and from there, all the people are fixated on him. Where do you go for religious consultation ? That guy. Who's in charge for policy-making ? That guy. With the added status of a political leader atop the status as the ulama', this guy will be idolized, and he will be seen as faultless. "How could this policy be wrong ? He knows his stuff straight from the book, so, you'll be assured it's legit."

Ulama's are human beings, they are not maksum nabi's. I'm not saying they should be belittled, I do respect the knowledge that they have, but bear in mind that they too, are human beings.

For those who say them ulama's are pewaris nabi, yes, they are, in terms of the immense stuff they dedicated their lives to learn, but that does not make them directly nabi's themselves. They have their roles to make use of their knowledge and I'm pretty sure some other person out there who is trained specifically in the ways of politics and is gifted with the charisma of a leader will also do his job as a leader, and if the two communicate well, it'll be an awesome combo.

Here in Canada, since muslims are the minority, there's no concern or talk much about kepimpinan ulama. Especially with the Western muslims. They acknowledge they're muslim, but they also acknowledge that this is the leadership that they get because they're part of this country. There is no gripe about "my leader is non-muslim, or eats pork and this country is damned because we don't have an ulama' as a leader."

I guess in Malaysia because it's a majority muslim country, people have no qualms about saying it aloud, I want an ulama' as my leader. Imagine if someone were to say I want the Pope as the leader of the government. These same people would be incensed. (No offense to any Popes).

For me, if so the ulama' is fit to lead, he knows his way around, he does a good job of it and everybody's happy with the way he does things in the country and is just, I'm cool. I wouldn't want him merely because he knows his stuff, unless if it's for a mufti position, but even in that case, you'd want a just person, not just a knowledgeable one.

Some people want an ulama' leadership because they want the hudud (in it's most superficial sense, imagine all the gory punishments, but do take note, for people who really do know their stuff about hudud, feel free to share and comment, I know I definitely am no expert in that, but I do know, it's definitely gotta be more than that) to be implemented. Yo, I gotta tell ya. Ruling a country and policy-making isn't as easy as "I want it that way so that's the way it will be". You gotta consider the societal dynamics and you know it's not easy to please everyone.

Then, they'd counter with something like, but it's all good during Rasulullah's time, we gotta get back to those good old days. So, we need ulama' leadership in order to do that.

I don't know much, but I challenge you people who wants hudud, tell me how many times does Rasulullah actually do stuff like stone adulterers to death and cut the arms of the thieves and require exactly quatro witnesses to an adultery taking place ? (ermahgerd can it get more cliched than that ?)

Yes, I believe leadership and governance must be based on Islamic principles and values, but at the same time, those principles and values are also universal, and the implementation of government policy is not fixed to what they had during Rasulullah's time. Yes, our prophet is supposed to be a good example sent from God and we're supposed to follow in his footsteps, but are we following the exact shape of that footstep or are we following where his footsteps went ?

So, yeah, I'll leave it here for now. Gotta get some shut eye for some more Engineering tomorrow. Good night.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Some kind of syndrome

There's actually a couple of things I'd actually wanted to pen down, to kind of put my thoughts in a proper channel, and there's actually quite a few books that I'd wanted to read, quite a few people I'd wanted to talk to and things to do, but obviously, I end up asking myself "Where did my reading week go?" and bam! I'm dead centre in the busiest time of the term.

I am currently typing this with a splitting headache. I have been looking at assembly codes for a midterm and there's quite a lot more slides I have to go through and labs and a sample midterm. My attention span is getting pretty poor.

I currently despise being a keyboard warrior on Facebook. I'd rather write it properly on my blog with proper structure and elaboration which would at least look like it's something worth being taken seriously for (or not, depending if I meant it as a witty -har, har- journal entry, or a serious entry) rather than just some hooligan-y trolling comment. Yeah, I still post gazillion stuff on Facebook still, but banal stuff, and I guess people get tired of it, but I guess it's better this way. I kind of feel like as time goes by, the longer I am here, just like the way that the people who used to share the same routines with me but are now back in Malaysia or are some other place in Canada become reduced to mere Facebook presence, I suppose that's what I have become too to them.

I don't know if I'm just naiive or immature that I'd expected for things to remain unchanged or that I have always been disillusioned all this while in the nature of the relationships I've had with people, or that people just eventually drift away and go on with their lives because you not only no longer share the same routine, or experiences, but you also now no longer share same values in life.

And I guess, all the "suggestions" for me to return, I simply take it as an attempt to reaffirm if I really were the same person that I depict myself from all the things I post. Yes, I post a lot of stuff, but I don't really know if that really is all of me, but it is on those posts that you base on what you know about me now, and depending on what I post, it might have caused a discord with how you remembered me to be and with what you see that is being depicted on social media.

Another way I take that "suggestion" is basically as an evaluation if I was not going to be a part of their lives at all and remain as just another news feed update or not.

Yeah I make it sound like a drama blown out of proportions, but I don't really expect anything from you, I just want to tell it as it is, so I'd at least have a sense of closure and move on with my business.

Let me ask you this, would the nature of our friendship change if you know that there is no chance of seeing me again or otherwise ? Would it change our dynamics if I'd suddenly remodeled myself into a completely different person altogether than what you'd know of me before ? So what if I did ?

I used to like voicing my opinions on everything, I still do, but now I don't do that as often. I just simply decided that what I say is not for everybody. Like, not everybody can appreciate it the way that I wanted them to, so I just keep it to myself, unless asked for it, but at the same time, I feel exposed. I feel like I've exposed a part of myself that the person didn't have to know about.

Call me self-absorbed or self-centred, but what I just learnt is that you can't trust people, and you can never romanticize the past too much. Social dynamics change, and you can never love anyone too much.

I'm not saying that what I say is important, but I just feel that people who are deprived of any direct contact from me will base what they know of me from what I say, and sometimes the things I say may differ from one another, and just because I happen to say it at that time, I might not necessarily still be in the same state of mind when I said it at present. It is not set in stone, but with media technologies like Facebook, the way it is documented, it stays.

It is honestly too much work looking back at what you've posted previously or being wary of what you post, especially when you post a lot of things, this wouldn't be a problem if you don't have a Facebook account in the first place, or are detached from it, but let's face it. Facebook has taken over social dynamics in a way more pervasively than before.

People get upset over being blocked or unfriended. I try to keep an open mind like, yeah, they enjoy your company, but sometimes they don't have to take the shit you post on Facebook, and it shouldn't change the way you relate to each other in any way, it's just Facebook. The same way where you'd work with people in your office, but sometimes, or most of the time, they might not be the people you'd call on to help with getting your ailing grandparents to the hospital.

But sometimes, especially when you have distance between you and Facebook, the impacts of blocking or unfriending increases in magnitude and it becomes a meaningful gesture. Well, maybe it doesn't even take distance, some people just meant it when they block or unfriend someone as an indication that they don't want to be your friend anymore, extending it to your real life relationship.

Why the heck do I always post about Facebook like I'm obsessed with it? Yeah, kinda, maybe, I don't know. And I'm not writing this because I'm upset that someone unfriended me or anything, I'm just writing this to say that I am in the process of remodeling myself, regardless if that's going to change what you know about me in the past or otherwise. Perception is always relative. I don't need you making up theories that I've changed (in a negative connotation) that I've abandoned my values, that, in your opinion, were "good", because we used to share the same ones in the past.

Values change, and I don't find it a rational thing to hold on to it for the sake of appearing " still familiar" to the people in your past. If I feel that such values are incompatible, I have no qualms of discarding it. I just always re-assess my stand. Not that I'm an easily swayed person, but I am just constantly thinking, re-assessing, if I were being deceived by perceptions of reality, either by other people or my own.

I know I've been away, I seldom find the time to keep in touch to keep up with all the stories, but even when I eventually do find the time, I feel that some of the people I used to know are repelled, mainly because they can't recognize the person they use to know from the past from what I post. I've had comments like, "I'm glad you haven't changed. I was so scared you'd changed." and some simply couldn't take the "absurdity" of my self expressions on Facebook. Though you accuse me of having been changed. What makes you so sure that you yourself haven't changed ? And even if you did, how is it changing the way you relate to me ?

I don't know if I'm seeking for approval or something, but I just feel that I'd best keep to myself. What I say is certainly not for everybody.

I guess to the people who hope I come back, for whatever reasons, be it for "validating" who I am, or otherwise, I just gotta tell you. I'll see you when I see you. I can't promise you anything. I might decide to do other things, for God knows. And you kind of have to accept that there is a possibility that you won't see me again, not because I want that to happen, but sometimes, circumstances just get in the way, and you kind of have to accept that I might eventually just end up being whatever status update you see. I guess, you can hold on to what you remember of me in the past, or you could just let it go, and take whatever you see on Facebook by face value. Or you could just not suppose anything about me. I may continue what I do, for all I know, but I know now that what I do may not be appreciated in the way I'd wanted it to. Or maybe I could just be tired of all of it. Of  being opinionated all the time. Like I've already been washed out and diluted.

Not that that's a big deal, I mean, you can't possibly expect everyone to behave as you'd like them to, you have no control over their free will, but I guess, it's just my gesture of acknowledging that the world isn't as ideal as it seems, that there are people who are out to get you, and what you do can be used against you. Not that I'm "buruk sangka" or anything, but I'm just cautious, and I guess, everything does, eventually, come to an end, due to inevitable circumstances.

I know some people will go, "yo, calm yo tits, you're being such a drama queen, it's normal, you've been away, you feel alienated. and you can just get a flight ticket home if you're so worried about being alienated." but yo man, I got my own reasons, dilemmas, questions, qualms about going back home or otherwise. I appreciate that you're trying to offer solutions so I'd shut my hole, but do keep in mind, there are things that hold me back that you don't know of, and may not understand, because everybody has different predicaments that they deal with differently.

P/S: Yeah I know the tone's whiny/sad/angry, but don't read it that way, it's more of a contemplative voice when I wrote it. haha

Saturday, March 02, 2013


Something's over taken
the comfort of old slippers
it's something magnanimous
estranging us of the pet names
we used to call each other

I guess riding fast cars
made me a lotus eater
it has deprived me of the memories
of our little tea parties

See I got this new set of frames
it makes my face a little bit more gaunt
it's not that I've dismissed the humor
of our secret jokes

It all reduces to the dust in the wind
How foolish I was to think
that an overturning wave
would look perpetually the same
and that time was relative.

As the walls swallow me whole
I resigned all hopes of reclaiming
the intimacy of shared meals
and soft whispers in the pillow
I guess it's time I go.