Sunday, 23 January 2011

HRH Prince Cheah

This morning I was at my desk top in the bedroom, tweaking the FirstLife site and Prince Cheah was comfortably under the table snoozing as he usually does.

Being at the table for more than a few hours I accidentally kicked him lightly a couple of times when I stretched my legs. The third time I did that was the last time today! Prince Cheah bit one of my toes! But that was to be expected of Prince these days. He never used to bite anyone before Jeannie passed on.

However, he is still the same measured old dog who can give you two chances before whacking you. The guy is almost human! How else can one explain the actions of a dog who a couple of years back took a full two minutes after I had accidentally kicked him particularly hard (under the table too) before attacking me! Prince's responses are always measured; he is even better than many humans.

So today, this post is about Prince Cheah Ah Kow and the words are mainly from Jeannie. One piece entitled, "More Than A Dream" is a blogpost dated 15th November 2006 that Jeannie adapted from the Net for her blog and another, entitled "My Beloved Prince", also from her blog is dated 27th July, 2006. They say it all.

More Than A Dream

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds.
He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being: by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.)He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.

His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to be with me... whenever... wherever -- in case I need him. And I expect I will -- as I always have. I love my Royal Highness.....The Prince.

My Beloved Prince

A bad migraine is no fun.

Was lying in bed and Prince came up to me, staring right into my eyes.
Something wrong baby? I asked him.
He looked miserable and disappointed.

I was thinking what is it that he wanted?

Oh yes!...Very quickly I got up and said to him.
Its your birthday Prince, with or without a migraine, mummy is going to bake your favourite walnut/banana bread ok?

His tail was wagging and he seemed pleased.

I went down into the kitchen and started to make his birthday bread (cake) hahhaahha!
He was waiting impatiently while I was talking to him. I was also thinking, baking for a dog?

Well, why not? He is our baby and a member of the family.

A lot of things went through my mind while I was still busy with the ingredients. I am a woman who never liked dogs. No way!

The kids have always wanted a pet and I will always say NO! Now 2 years ago, a friend of my daughter wanted to give up her pet and of course, my daughter had to do her sweetest talk with this mom of hers. I still say NO!

What changed my mind was, when she came to the part where this little Prince is not being well taken care of by his former owners. Guess they have no time or whatever.

My heart skipped a beat and I said to my daughter. Well, okay. Let's go take a look and see if there is any chemistry between us. One big into the car and still not sure.

When we arrived at the apartment, I saw for the first time a dog that looked more like a cat.

What kind of species is this? I asked.
Oh..he is a Shih Tzu and his name is Prince.
Got introduced to Prince and I was still deciding.

Shall we or shall we not.

As I sat down, I saw the most beautiful, sparkling pair of eyes staring at me. I could almost hear him say.......would you please? Awwww........that's it. I said YES! We'll take you home and we'll give you a home.

Prince got settled with us nicely and quickly I must say.

Start grooming that dirty fella was the first thing I said to my kids.

Well, mummy gave him his 1st bath.

My 1st time bathing a dog? Geez.....I must be mad.

I set something like ten thousand rules?

No this and no to that and that.

Guess what?

Today Prince sleeps with me on my bed, eats with me, has his own chair next to mine.

Listening to mantras every morning and meditating with me.

Prince is now mine more than anyone else in the family. We cannot live without each other, not even for a day.

Ever heard of someone calling her dog while away?

I do that now or he will not do anything. He will be so miserable, they do not know what to do with him. My phone calls always set his/my mood back to normal.

I thank the Universe and Masters for they have put this message into me.

That you can do anything even if you do not like it...for the 1st time.
Now I cannot see myself living life without my dear Prince. His presence is always comforting and loving.
I cannot ask for any other than Prince.

We all adore him and literally made him a King.

Happy Birthday Prince.

You deserve many many more birthdays.

Long Live Prince Cheah.

We are grateful to have Prince and even more so to have him make Jeannie's last few years that much more special. The two were inseparable. Special appreciation to Eva and Andrew for taking care of him in his first three years.

Monday, 17 January 2011

I Like This...

Thanks Sdr Hussein for the heads up.

“Just as we should reject the thoughtless equation of progress and hope, so we need to distinguish between nostalgia and the reassuring memory of happy times, which serves to link the present to the past and to provide a sense of continuity. The emotional appeal of happy memories does not depend on disparagement of the present, the hallmark of the nostalgic attitude.

Nostalgia appeals to the feeling that the past offered delights no longer obtainable. Nostalgic representations of the past evoke a time irretrievably lost and for that reason timeless and unchanging. Strictly speaking, nostalgia does not entail the exercise of memory at all, since the past it idealizes stands outside time, frozen in unchanging perfection.

Memory too may idealize the past, but not in order to condemn the present. It draws hope and comfort from the past in order to enrich the present and to face what comes with good cheer. It sees past, present, and future as continuous. It is less concerned with loss than with our continuing indebtedness to a past the formative influence of which lives on in our patterns of speech, our gestures, our standards of honor, our expectations, our basic disposition toward the world around us.”

Christopher Lasch, The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1991) 82-3.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Teoh Beng Hock Death: Defying Binary Rationality

My good friend who shares the same initials as me, Kamarul Shahrin is an analyst (he sometimes refers to himself as ANALyst) with a GLC. And the analyst being the ANALyst that he says he sometimes is, has come up with another explanation for TBH's death that belongs somewhere between The Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond. Well, analyse this from his blog:


Cause of Teoh’s death unknown - The Star

The Star reported "The lengthy Teoh Beng Hock inquest ended with coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas ruling that the political aide did not commit suicide. Azmil Muntapha, however, also said there was insufficient evidence to prove that Teoh’s death was homicide".

At most times, I think in terms of binary rationality, that if a parameter does not fit, then it must be the other. One or Zero. Yes or No. The coroner's statement above is perplexing, suicide was not committed by Teoh. And so, to my mind, his death must have been brought about by an external party. If you don't die from your own actions, then you must have died from other people's actions, in that context. So, it is perplexing indeed. Perhaps, I have been watching too many CSI shows, if there had been a murder, there should be a murderer. That is how I tend to see things.

But then, I cannot manage to grasp a conclusion. Teoh's death did not reach the classification of murder. It is somewhere in the space between the words suicide and murder. Death was the certainty but its cause is not. I am confounded by the apparent ambiguity in the equation. It scares me as it is not just about the case, but about the ambiguity in determining the murder. It tells me that it can happen to just about any Malaysian. Yes, I am afraid. If science cannot explain it, then it will normally categorise it as paranormal until such time, that it can be explained by science. So, is Teoh's death paranormal? I dare to stand firm by my opinion, until such time that the coroner classifies Teoh's death as murder. And I have sufficient cause to worry.

One can die from paranormal activity here. I can be in a building in one minute and in the next minute, I will be falling out through the window, meeting death on the pavement. Paranormal indeed. I have a firm reason to be afraid. Of what can become of future deaths. Not suicide but not murder. It can happen to you.

Friday, 7 January 2011

If There Are More Muslims Like Art Harun, There Would Be More Muslims

Life imitating Art. This is a must read:

But Dr Ridhuan, I beg to differ

Salam Doctor,

Allow me to  begin by wishing you a happy new Gregorian year. May this new (Gregorian) year bring with it God's goodness for all of us.

I am writing in response to your article, "Politik murahan yang memualkan" .

I have disagreed with you before and I must say, this time, with respect, I disagree with you even more.

First of all, let me say that I do not know for sure whether the Prime Minister's minders did in fact ask the Bishop to remove all crucifixes and prohibit the Christians from reciting hymns at the function attended by the Prime Minister. There are reports which say that that happened. And there are also reports which say that it did not happen.

Whatever it is, assuming that it did take place, one thing is for sure. The instruction or request did not come from the Prime Minister.

I am really disappointed that you viewed the Prime Minister's visit to the function at hand was a lowly act of besmirching his feet with dirt. This is what you said:

"Kesediaan dan kesudian PM yang sanggup ‘mencemar duli’ pergi ke ‘rumah ibadat’ tersebut sepatut diberikan penghargaan dan pujian, bukannya dilacurpolitikkan." (emphasis is mine).

The expression "mencemar duli", loosely translated means to dirty one's feet or sole. That expression is normally used to express gratitude to our Rulers for having graced any of our function with their Highness' presence. It is expressed thus;

"Patik menjunjung kasih Tuanku kerana sudi mencemar duli Tuanku ke upacara ini."

By using that expression to describe the Prime Minister's visit to the function at hand, you are implying that it was actually beneath the Prime Minister to attend such a function and that  the Prime Minister was actually going out of his way to lower himself to attend the said function.

Doctor, with all due respect, that was unbecoming of you as an ulamak.

We live in a multi-ethnic-faith society. It was none other than the Prime Minister himself who is advocating the concept of 1Malaysia. That concept, as I understand it, would among others, entail the acceptance by all of us, regardless of breed, creed and faith that we should, as the people of Malaysia, live in harmony and respect for each other.

The Prime Minister is the Prime Minister of Malaysia. He is not the Prime Minister of the Muslims or Malays only. As President of UMNO, he may be the leader of the Malays who are members of UMNO. As President of the Barisan Nasional, he is the leader of everybody who is a member of the component parties of the BN. But as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, he acts for all of us Malaysians.

In that capacity, he has to attend to the interests of all of us, regardless of our faith and race. If he attends a hari raya celebration, he must also attend a Deepavali and Chinese New Year celebration. The same goes with the Christmas celebration. He just has to attend it because he is the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

It is not beneath him to do so. By attending a Christmas function, he is not "mencemar" his "duli" or dirtying his feet or sole. He is performing his social duty as a Prime Minister. If he did not perform such action, than it is his reputation as a leader which is going to be "tercemar".

Your argument that Muslims are prohibited from attending religious celebrations of other faith than Islam is simplistic at its core. To my mind Islam is all about one's closeness to God and His will. What problem would God have against anybody who attend a non-Muslim celebration if his faith in God and His way is unshakeable?

Are you saying that by attending the function that night, the Prime Minister's faith in God would in any way diminish? I think we should all give the Prime Minister a little bit more credit here.

In fact, the latest pronouncement on this issue was made by Dr Ghaith bin Muhammad al-Sheikh al-Mubarak, a member of the Council of Senior Ulamak of Saudi Arabia. He opined on 23rd December 2010 that Muslims can take part in religious festivals of other faiths if the purpose of their attendance is to attract non-Muslims to Islam.

According to local daily the Saudi Gazette, he said "by attending festivals of other faiths Muslims could help to “pacify their souls” and when a Muslim rejects an invitation to attend such a festival it could alienate non-Muslims and divert them from the right path.

And so Doctor, it would appear now that it all boils down to one's intention. Was the Prime Minister intending to be a Christian by attending that function or was he making a move for unity that night?

While I was studying at King's College, my law library was housed in an old church. Are you saying that I should not have gone to the library because it was in a church Doctor? Are you saying that before entering the library I should have requested the librarian or College authority to respect me by removing all crucifixes adorning the walls?

You cite the example of Caliph Omar not wanting to pray in a Church as an example. This is what you said:

"Sudah tentu kita masih ingat kisah Khalifah Islam kedua, Saidina Omar Al-Khattab yang pernah melawat gereja. Ketika tiba waktu sembahyang, paderi tersebut menawarkan Omar untuk solat di gereja. Namun, Saidina Omar menolak dan memilih untuk tidak solat di dalam gereja kerana ditakuti boleh menimbulkan fitnah. Mungkin orang Kristian akan beranggapan Omar mahu menukarkan gereja menjadi masjid. Semua ini dilakukan atas kebijaksanaan seseorang pemimpin."

With respect Doctor, that is not the true historical account of the incident. Caliph Omar declined to pray in the Church of Holy Sepulchre not because he feared unwarranted aspersions or he did not want the Christians to think that he (Omar) would want to turn the church into a mosque. That was a twisted view.

For the record, Caliph Omar captured Jerusalem after a brief and bloodless seige,  from the Byzantines in February 638. Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab accepted the city's surrender from Patriarch Sophronius in person.

Omar was shown the great Church of the Holy Sepulchre and offered a place to pray in it, but he refused. He declined out of absolute respect for the Christians and their church and not out of fear as you stated. He declined because he thought that if he did so, a precedent would be set and that future generations of Muslims might say that Omar prayed there and then they might convert that Church into a Mosque. It was out of that concern and respect that he refused to pray there.

He then proceeded to pray at the steps outside the Church. By doing so he averted the possibility of the Church being turned into a mosque. Such was his great respect for Christians, Christianity and churches.

Fair enough, Omar's fears almost came to reality when in 1193 Saladin's son Aphdal Ali build a mosque near the site of that incident although the location is not exact, for the entrance to the Church was on the east in Omar's time and the present entrance was only inaugurated in the 11th century.

You made a big issue on the apparent Christmas celebration in Malaysia which according to you is way out of proportion considering Christians constitute only about 10% of our populations. Are they to blame if shops and shopping complexes, and in fact the whole commercial world in the whole universe, view Christmas and its celebration as a commercial activity rather than a pure religious event?

The thing about Christmas "celebration" which is way out of proportion in our country and any other country in the world is this. It is not about religion at all. It is the capitalism god at work. You should realise that dear Doctor.

As a Muslim, I am in fact thankful that our Hari Raya is not celebrated in such a big way as Christmas is. At least Hari Raya is preserved as a pure religious event where Muslims would go to the mosque and visit each other and undertake charitable work. Even then, our Hari Raya has, nowadays, morphed into a cultural and social event. Notice for example, dear Doctor, how we have open houses which really in effect not "open" anymore nowadays?

Caliph Omar, for example, refused to build a huge mosque after capturing Jerusalem. He opted to build a modest mosque on the Temple Mount instead. Clearly, size and quantity was not important to him. What matters is his faith I suppose.

Complaining on the number of churches and how big Christmas celebration is in our country is, to me - and I say this with the greatest of respect to you - childish. It is reflective of the inferiority complex which we Muslims are imbued with nowadays. It makes us want to retire into our cocoon, sulking and whining at how big and prettier other people are and how we should resent them and how unfair this whole new world is to us. If the Prophet were to behave like that in his early days in Mekah, I wonder whether Islam would be a great way of life it is now.

The great way of life that we know as Islam is not about public holidays or the size of our mosques. If you are going to compare the number of public holidays we have, are you going to equate football with our religion just because we have a public holiday after winning the Suzuki Cup recently, just as we have a public holiday for hari raya every year? We have more and bigger office complexes than mosques. Don't you feel these office complexes are more important than mosques and thus conclude that our people place office complexes on a higher plane than mosques?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was well known for his respect to other religions, especially to the kitabiyyah (the people of the book, namely, the Jews and Christians). In a letter from him to Negus, the king of Abyssinia, he wrote:

From Muhammad, God’s Messenger, to the Negus Asham, the King of Abyssinia;

Peace be upon you! On this occasion, I praise God, the Sovereign, the Holy One free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, and I bear witness that Jesus is a spirit from God, and a word from Him, whom He bestowed upon Mary, who was chaste, pure and virgin. I call you to God, One with no partner. (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya 3.104).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was not only respectful to a Christian King but he in fact acknowledged Jesus and Mary in his letter. Such was the message of one-ness which the Prophet (peace be upon him) was advocating.

It is known that in Islam, we are allowed to marry the ahlil-kitab (people of the book) without them having to convert to Islam. I would ask, if this is so, would our Christian spouse be required to remove her crucifix before we sleep with her every night? How would she pray in our house in that event?

The contemporary approach towards achieving the globalisation of Islam is one of inclusiveness, dear Doctor. As such, it comes as no surprise, for instance, for Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun, the Mufti of Syria to declare that Islam commands its followers to protect Judaism early last year.

While the world is fast moving into an era of inter-faith acceptance and embrace inter-religious accord, it is disheartening to see Malaysia regressing into medieval insecurity and inferiority complex. It is this complex which causes the likes of the Mufti of Johor to issue a fatwa saying Islam forbids Muslims from dressing up as Santa forgetting that Santa is not a religious icon but rather a commercial icon which has been elevated to a cultural one (which is similar to the act of giving away "duit raya" on hari raya in Malaysia).

You make known your concern of the visit by the Prime Minister being politisised and reminded of an incident where a former leader was undermine by a picture before. That was of course referring to the picture of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who was pictured wearing a Kadazan headgear with a crucifix symbol in 1990.

How sad. That picture was misused as a character assassination by none other than the government- controlled mainstream newspapers in an election to defeat the Tengku.

If that happens to the Prime Minister just because he attends the Christmas function recently, don't you think Doctor that it is your duty as an ulamak to educate the Muslim public, as part of your dakwah, to ignore such irresponsible and gutter politics?

By condoning the alleged action in requesting the removal of the crucifix, I am afraid to say that you are in fact indirectly promoting that kind of silly politicisation of theocratic phobias. 

As Muslims, we make noises when people of other faiths perceivably treat our religion with disrespect. If non-Muslims could be asked to wear tudung before entering the mosque to observe the sanctity of our mosque, why can't we Muslims, reciprocate and accord the same respect to other faiths by at least allowing them to bear their objects of faith?

Islam, from the very beginning - and I mean to say from day one - was inextricably connected to Christianity in many ways than we would even care to admit. On the very day the Prophet (peace be upon him) was revealed the first verse Iqra', he did not know what had happened to him. He ran back home in fear, trembling in shock. Do you remember who told him that he had been appointed God's messenger?

It was none other than Khadija's (the Prophet's wife) cousin, Warqa bin Naufal, a Christian with knowledge of biblical lore, who told Muhammad (peace be upon him) that he had been revealed a divine message, just like Moses before him. Such was the close association between Islam and Christian on the very first day of its existence.

Why can't we Muslims acknowledge that and stop being in fear and stop disbelieving in our ability to be true to our faith?

Why can't we work towards inclusiveness, towards unity, towards acceptance and towards one-ness.

Or does God really want us to remind ourselves of how different we are from the rest of the world all the time?


Saturday, 1 January 2011

Message For 1.1.11 And 2011

"...which would you choose?...which do you choose?...and...WHEN?"

Nevermind that this video is 2 years old. The message remains the same.