Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Blowin' in the chilly winds......

The national news agency, Bernama, has reported that Ulamas ( learned religious people) attending the Ulama Conference 2006 had came up with a list of resolutions to be presented to the government for considerations. One of the resolutions called for the reviewed of “sharing” of traditional cultural cerebrations (Kongsi Raya) as they might contradict Islamic Law. It is also decided that celebrating the festivals of other religions could lead to blasphemy.The Government was also urged to set up a monitoring body made up of academicians and ulamas to stop the spread of liberal Islamic thinking, especially through the Internet.

Frankly, all this while, my thought was that, “Kongsi Raya” was a promoted Malaysian way of Life. I did not know participation in joyous cerebrations of religion and cultural festival contradict religion law and values. I also sincerely do not know that cerebrating the festivals of other religion can lead to blasphemy. Looks like, “Kongsi Raya” is going to become a dirty and politically incorrect word soon. Well, in the name of sensitivity and respect, I guess I should keep my mouth shut and not to comment or voice my disgreements. I guess the most sensible thing for me to do, in order not to offend these learned peole, is to re-educate my children and friends to refrain from participating in festival cerebrations of other religions.

With the current state of business environment, I guess it is a good call. We can all indeed saved lots of money without having to participate in other people's religion festivals. We should all cerebrate our own religion and cultural festivals in our own house in closed doors in order not to offend morons.

We are not what we used to be......

Let me take a sip of my sinful black coffee, Om, and recite my favorite Hindu Prayer.....

Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the Real.
Oh God, lead us from darkness to light.
Oh God, lead us from death to immortality.
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all.
Oh Lord God almighty, may there be peace in celestial regions.
May there be peace on Earth.
May the waters be appeasing.
May herbs be wholesome, and may trees plants bring peace to all.
May all beneficent beings bring peace to us.
May thy Vedic Law propogate peace all through the world.
May all things be a source of peace to us.
And may thy peace itself, bestow peace on all,
and may that peace come to me also.

Let me take another sip of my intoxicating black coffee, and with laughters, watch the clouds move. My big fat laughing Buddha, you are my numero uno. Om Namo Amithaba Buddha....


Anonymous said...

Back up claims, ulamas told
The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Present your argument with facts backed by the law, the Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister told the ulamas who want celebrations such as “kongsi raya” and open houses to be reviewed for fear that the practice could erode the faith of Muslims.

Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the ulamas should make an official statement to the Government on the matter and substantiate their views with concrete findings.

“I want it in black and white, substantiated by an official statement from the ulamas to the Government. You cannot simply say it is wrong and not in accordance with the religious tenets and not substantiate your claims.”

Dr Rais added that the Government would not simply do away with the celebrations “simply because such comments were made without being tabled for the Government to analyse”.

“As such, the celebrations will go on as usual,” he said, responding to the ulamas' call on Tuesday after a conference in which they had adopted several resolutions, including that calling for a review the celebrations.

Conference committee chairman Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria had said this was necessary because the National Fatwa Committee had decided that celebrating festivals of other religions could erode the faith of Muslim and lead to blasphemy.

Dr Rais added that the national-level open houses organised by his ministry were good for society in “our efforts to promote Bangsa Malaysia”.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said: “They (the ulamas) are wrong.

“First, as Muslims we must have faith in Islam and things like (kongsi raya) will not erode our belief.

“Second, the purpose of the celebrations is to bring together people from all backgrounds, which Islam encourages, and not to isolate the Muslims.

“This is the opinion of a few people and we are not bound by it. We also have our advisers on Islam.”

In Ipoh, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali said that celebrating the festivals together was testimony of religious freedom in the country.

Hosting such events also did not mean that Muslim intellectuals had been influenced by liberalism and pluralism, he added.

“The Government has decided to host big-scale open houses, including festivals of other religions, as we want every citizen to feel that this country belongs to them.”

Tajol Rosli said Perak would continue to celebrate all the different religious festivals.

“With wars happening around the world, it is important that every Malaysian plays his or her part to uphold the stability and peace we are enjoying,” he said.

Anonymous said...

Zainah Anwar on Friday: Making taboo a cherished tradition
16 Jun 2006
New Straits Times
WHAT next on the laundry list of the forbidden? On Tuesday, it was pluralism and liberalism that posed a danger to the faith of Muslims. On Wednesday it was kongsi raya and open house.

Tomorrow will it be the Barisan Nasional multi-ethnic coalition system that is haram because such close co-operation might undermine the faith of the Muslims in Umno.

So what else will those bent on turning this country into a theocratic dictatorship focus their attention on next?

The Ninth Malaysia Plan has been launched. National priorities and challenges have been identified and everyone is rolling up their sleeves to get to work. And what did some of our ulama do?

They met for two days to declare so much of what we love and celebrate about Malaysia and being Malaysian, as threats to the Muslim faith.

What else could be in the 22 resolutions passed by the Majlis Muzakarah of our ulama this week? What among the 11 fatwas passed by the Majlis Ulama Indonesia or from the thousands in the Wahhabi catalogue of fatwas did they decide to adopt?

They say they do this because they love Islam and want to protect the Muslim faith. But don’t they realise that they are turning Muslims and others against Islam?

What they are preaching is a hate ideology that even their master ideologues in Saudi Arabia are now trying to reverse.

According to the Mufti of Perak Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria, the National Fatwa Council has decided that kongsi raya and open house to celebrate the festivals of others will "damage the faith of Muslims and is tantamount to syirik".

One wonders how the Fatwa Council came to such a conclusion? Did it decide to follow the much quoted fatwa issued by the Wahhabi ulama of Saudi Arabia which forbids the wishing of Merry Christmas to Christians, as such a practice is "more loathsome to God than imbibing liquor, or murder, or fornication".

This reasoning from the teachings of the Wahhabi ideologue Ibn Taymiyya and his student Ibn al-Qayyim Jawziyya, is the most quoted justification to ban Muslim celebration of other festivals. That to celebrate with others their religious festivities is tantamount to approving their religious faith, thus constituting syirik.

Another Saudi fatwa cautions that, "the most dangerous form of imitating the unbelievers, the most destructive and the most prevalent among the Muslims, is sharing with the unbelievers their celebrations".

These fatwas are widely circulated within Muslim communities in the West to isolate and "protect" Muslims from the evils of the infidel host society.

Ulama who believe that pluralism and liberalism are a threat to the faith of Muslims, must, of course, believe that celebrating the festivities of Christians, Chinese, Hindus, and Dayaks constitute a liberal action that recognises our pluralist heritage and must therefore be forbidden.

While leaders of all faiths are promoting inter-faith dialogue and understanding in the wake of Islam bashing post-Sept 11, our own ulama who should know better what it means to live together in peace and harmony within a multi-religious and multi-ethnic state, choose to fuel the fires of hatred and bigotry towards Islam.

It pains me that our religious leaders and Islamist activists, while bemoaning Islamophobia, and declaring that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, themselves utter statements that just feed the prejudices of others against Islam and Muslims.

Pity them who think our faith is so weak that lighting a Christmas tree, donning a floppy red Santa cap, joining the fun and vigour of a lion dance, could lead us up the path of kafirland.

It seems in 2004, ABIM — the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia — asked the Fatwa Council to issue a fatwa and establish clear guidelines on Muslim involvement in activities held during kongsi raya which could be considered as against Islamic tenets.

Some of the activities listed out included Muslim shop assistants wearing Santa Claus outfits, Muslim youth taking part in lion dances and Muslim dignitaries lighting up Christmas trees.

In that memorandum, ABIM quoted a hadith that Muslims were allowed to celebrate only two festivals, Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji. It questioned on what basis Muslims should be allowed to celebrate the festivities of other communities and urged for a fatwa. So here it is.

Yet again, the question that arises is why, in the whole range of diversity of opinions on any particular issue affecting Muslims, our ulama almost always choose the most conservative, the most intolerant opinion.

What is it about learning to live together, to celebrate our differences and share our festivities, that pose a threat to certain Muslims?

On the range and scale of problems and challenges besetting the Muslim community, how is it that a joyous celebration of our rich multi-ethnic traditions to promote peace and harmony could become the subject of a fatwa?

What gives me hope is that Malaysians are no longer willing to take this lying down.

What the ideologues of the Islamic state are trying to do is to silence this national conversation by waging a campaign against liberalism and pluralism in the name of Islamic authenticity and purity.

They will not win because again and again Malaysians have shown that we are in the end a pragmatic people who believe in celebrating the diversity and plurality of Malaysian society that has been a blessing to us all. This is a tradition that we must jealously protect and promote.

Anonymous said...

Editorial: Is nothing sacred?
New Straits Times
16 Jun 2006
THE National Fatwa Committee’s startling assertion that the country’s much-loved "kongsi raya" celebrations could be a threat to Muslims must surely be challenged.

Indeed, it is deeply saddening that such reservations have developed at all, out there in the wary shadows away from the bright and happy glare of our many festivals and holidays.

Every time the celestial bodies conspire to have such events coincide, this country has taken to sharing celebrations with joyful alacrity. The rakyat instinctively realises that this is a uniquely Malaysian thing, welcoming such fortuitous conjunctions as much as the feasts themselves.

But it seems there is a constituency that views this askance. While it takes all sorts to make the world (and this nation especially) it’s a shame that such a minority would want to spoil the fun for everyone else.

To be sombrely told now that the conviviality of shared celebrations is a Trojan horse for religio-cultural subversion is a slap in the face of all our peoples. But in this case it is not they who need to wake up.

No fatwa is necessary to maintain religious sanctities in this regard. Since when has "kongsi raya" involved sharing religious observances? The notion is absurd. What people share is a momentary mutual levity — a holiday, reunions of families and friends, everyone at home with doors open to visitors, the best food everyone’s likely to have all year. These are reassuring occasions; cheerful affirmations of the national contract.

How could this be threatening? To whom? Perhaps the Fatwa Committee will do as Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim suggests, and substantiate committee chairman Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria’s contention that the sharing of festive occasions can "erode the faith of Muslims".

It would likely be a fascinating document, providing ample scope for the scriptural debate that is bound to follow. What good it will do is hard to see, though. The moon, stars and seasons do not care how their passage is observed down here, and lunar new years, harvest festivals and holidays will fall when they will. When they happen together, people will celebrate together.

For all the multitude of differences that riddle this nation and the polarisation besetting us, these occasions are part of the upside to the Malaysian equation.

They are among what’s good and admirable and heartening about our society. A true faith should not be in danger of being eroded merely by celebrating a common humanity.