Monday, October 27, 2008


THAT is one the many beauties of Malaysia - diversity of culture. Hence, there is a year long celebration of God’s creativity and mercy.

Today I was at Bala’s and Dr Maha’s open house. At both places, opportunity arose to meet up with old friends and make new ones. I have always loved the mingling of people from different cultures and religions, celebrating as humans. And the food, of course, especially if you have a sweet tooth like me!

Picture paints a thousand words.

The first photo is Bala. Looking serious as always but in reality a charming gentleman. Then comes Sanjeevan his son and his wife in the background. The third photo shows Sharmila, Bala's daughter who is also the fastest "sms person" in this part of the world. can see she is busy at it again!

After Bala,s house, I was off to Maha's, who is also my dentist (ouch!). That's him looking like an Indian Maharaja in the photo!

Bala and Maha - thank you for the invite. May God bless you both and your families always.

All these Raya, Chinese new year, Deepavali and Christmas open houses always reminds me of the verse from the Quran which says:

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise (each other). Indeed the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Quran: chapter 49 verse 13’)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Majlis Sambutan Aidil Fitri Yayasan Restu - Unique experience

I had the honour of attending the Yayasan Restu “raya open house” at their complex in Taman Seni Islam, Shah Alam. The large throng of guests that came – ordinary people, dignitaries, Muslims and non-muslims, locals and international guests – certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. There seemed be an air of festivity.

It was an “open house” with a difference because there were lots of things to do at the Complex. Quite apart from the free flowing food, the guests took the opportunity to visit the three galleries housed in the complex. The Restu Foundation owns three galleries which form Museum al-Quran Mushaf Malaysia displaying a number of hand-illuminated and copies of Qurans produced by their staff including various types of Islamic artistic products such as calligraphy products, Islamic craft and souvenirs.

The guests were entertained by live nasyid performances in the open arena. The auditorium was packed with guests listening to the mesmersing voice of the popular Ustad Akhil Hayy.

Dato’ Abdul Latif Mirasa, Chairman of Restu Foundation, was his usual humble and jovial self playing host to the guests, taking dignitaries around explaining the concepts and the displays in the galleries. He explained that Islamic art is a message of exceptional beauty where its pillars are driven from the beautiful words of al- Quran. He expressed gratitude that his dream that started in 1987 of publishing locally designed Al-Quran became a reality in 1999. To date they have also published two translations of the al-Quran –one in Malay and the other in English. The complex also houses Restu College which offers various courses in Islamic calligraphic arts.

Restu Publications has a successful record of producing different translation of al-Quran internationally and exegesis such that it has now become the 2nd most important al-Quran printing centre after King Fahd complex for printing al-Quran in Madinah.

All in all it was an interesting
open house
with a difference!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


A colorful festival that is celebrated by all Hindus worldwide is Deepavali, which is also known as the festival of lights. One important practice that the Hindus follow during the festival is to light oil lamps in their homes on Deepavali morning. By lighting the oil lamps, the Hindus are thanking the gods for the happiness, knowledge, peace and wealth that they have received.

There is even an interesting legend behind this festival. The story goes that Narakasura, a demon, ruled the kingdom of Pradyoshapuram. Under his rule, the villagers suffered a lot of hardship as the demon tortured the people and kidnapped the women to be imprisoned in his palace. Seeing his wickedness, Lord Khrishna set out to destroy the demon and the day Narakasura died was celebrated as Deepavali, the triumph of good over evil!

The day of Deepavali is a constant reminder that one must forever strive against evil so that good can triumph.


“Many Deepavali festivals have come and gone. Yet the hearts of the vast majority are as dark as the night of the new moon. The house is lit with lamps, but the heart is full of the darkness of ignorance. O man! wake up from the slumber of ignorance. Realise the constant and eternal light of the Soul which neither rises nor sets, through meditation and deep enquiry”.

I wish all the Hindu visitors: HAPPY DEEPAVALI.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


There are many definitions of religion. However, it is generally agreed that religion represents a belief in a supernatural being that controls the human destiny, has a belief system which includes a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices pertaining to the supernatural power, .places of worship, religious rituals, priests, “sacred scriptures” and such.

The word “religion” is derived from the Latin word "religio" which carries the meaning of “a way of seeing, thinking, and acting inspired by questions about what things mean: ie Where did we come from?, What is our destiny?, What is true?, What is false?, What is my duty or obligation?, What is the meaning of suffering? Thus the Latin meaning is “inquiry prone” while the current understanding of it is definitive.

Religion may modify and influence the conduct and life of a person even in matters such as food, clothing and interaction between people.

In matters of food for example, some religious beliefs restrict the consumption of beef, some the consumption of pork and some other prohibit meat altogether. Some religions prohibit the consumption of meat that died of its own accord, blood and such.

In matters of clothing for example, you have religions that encourage certain kinds of modes of dressing among the adherents. Almost all religions have their own standard mode of dressing for their priests – bare cheated, robes, hats, caps or turbans, white, green, brown or yellow color, hoods, woman with hair coverings (like nuns for example), bald headed, unshaven head and chin, and such. Such clothing and manner of maintaining the hair are taught as essentials elements of the respective religions.

In matters of interaction with people, it may affect the nature, degree and depth of relationships. For example, some religions prohibit marriages between its adherents and others. Segregation in schools may occur during certain periods to enable the adherents to attend special sessions. Segregation between sexes in public may occur.

From the foregoing discussion, one who faithfully adheres and accepts the features (1) to (6) of their respective religion in the above diagram may be considered being a religious person.

Though the details certainly differ, in comparative religion discussions and analysis, it is important to understand that in terms of the general characteristic features, they share a commonality as shown in the diagram. With this as a premise, it is then possible to discuss point by point in each religion for comparative study purposes.

For example, under point (1), one may ask: what kind of supernatural being does religion A teach and how is it similar or different from that taught by religion B. By doing this, we avoid being caught in semantics by using the confusing one word – “God” which is unhelpful because it has acquired differing meanings over the years. I know I am guilty of this myself in the title of his blog but I had intended it to be user-friendly and am aware that simplicity always does not reflect the exact truth. For the serious thinker, of course, he wants to embark on a more specific, accurate inquiry with due regard to the reasoning process.

In the discussion of “God”, for instance, we have heard and read various concepts – “Yahweh”, “gods”, “Allah”, “Father, Son, Holy Ghost”, “Brahma, Vishnu”, “Odin”, “Buddha” and so on. Even in such a classification, there are debates and disputes as to whether a particular character is “god” or “God” or neither. Without going into details here, the point to note is that each concept has a unique understanding. Each understanding affects the world view of the adherent uniquely.

I have also heard the concept of the “secular God”. This concept accepts the existence of a Creator without having to accept any of the religious doctrines. According to this concept, the existence of God is natural and self-evident. His signs are said to be self-evident in nature to the knowledgeable. Those who reason are able to differentiate the evil and goodness in nature and, strive to emulate the goodness and reject the evil.

Another example: The discussion may take place at point (3). Each religion has its own source – founder, prophet, thinkers, or even “God” Himself. They have different holy books and scriptures. The sources may be compared for similarities or differences. They may be studied comparatively and judged against the “yardstick of reason”, if that is possible.

The holy books, themselves may be examined as objectively as possible to determine whether it satisfies its claim to have originated from a supernatural force or a “divine being”. Granted, there may be certain aspects of the belief system that does not permit the use of reason but there must be other aspect where reason may be applied in the inquiry.

In any inquiry or comparative religious discussions, one of the most important pre-requisite is the willingness and ability to discuss objectively with the view of ascertaining the “truth” as far as is possible. There are other pre-requisites, of course, including factors such as clarity of mind and reasoning process, lack of prejudice and biasness, no hidden or ulterior motives, and the strength to be able to agree to disagree without animosity.

In conclusion, I would like to share two verses from the Quran:

“Mankind was but one nation, but differed (later). Had it not been for a word
that went forth before from your Lord, their differences would have been settled
between them”. [Quran 10:19]

“Say: "O God! Creator of the heavens and the earth! Knower of all that is hidden and open! it is You that will judge between your servants in those matters about which they have differed." [Quran 39:46]


Monday, October 6, 2008

Guna Akal dibenarkan?

Otak. Satu organ yang sangat penting. Daripada otak, kita mampu berfikir. Daripada pemikiran kita, mampu mencetuskan pelbagai realiti. Bagi setiap individu, realiti atau kebenaran adalah apa yang dikecapi atau difikirkan olehnya. Maka, kalau pemikirannya cacat, cacatlah realiti yang dicipta oleh nya.

Sebagai contoh, ada orang yang minat membaca. Kita pangil dia Syed Ahmad.Padanya, realiti hidup nya ialah membaca menyeronakkan serta membantu beliau memahami kehidupan dengan lebih jelas. Ia pula gembira dapat memahami kehidupan dengan lebih jelas. Ada pula yang malas membaca. Kita panggil dia Syed Bengap. Padanya realiti ialah membaca membuang masa. “Berfikir mengenai perkara-perkara tertenu mebuang masa”. “Apa guna ilmu kerana itu semua teori”. Ini realiti hidup nya yang lahir daripada pemikiran beliau.

Dalam kehidupan, siSyed Ahmad dan siSyed Bengap akan bertembung. Sebenarnya, banyak Ahmad dan Bengap didalam kehidupan. Bayangkan bagaimana kedua-dua ini akan berinteraksi sesama mereka? Bengap pasti tidak dapat faham apa yang diutarakan oleh Ahmad – dalam banyak hal.

Andaikan pula siBengap berjaya menduduki jawatan yang penting didalam masyarakat. Ekoran beliau tidak boleh berfikir secara mendalam, maka tindakan yang diambil olehnya tentulah bersifat jangka pendek dengan kesan buruk jangka panjang. Perkara ini dinampak oleh Ahmad dan beliau menegur Bengap serta disusuli dengan cadangan alternatif. Apa reaksi mungkin oleh Bengap?

Kalau Bengap seorang yang bodoh tetapi sedar tahap diri, ia akan menilai cadangan Ahmad. Bagaimana pula kalau Bengap itu seorang yang bodoh sombong serta egoistik? Tentu sekali Ahmad akan mendapat kesusahan. Ia akan dituduh sebagai pengacau, pembantut kemajuan dan sebagainya. Ia mungkin juga dituduh sebagai subversof yang cuba untuk memporak-perandakan masyarakat. Lagi pun, kalau Ahmad pandai sangat, mengapa pula Bengap yang berjawatan lebih tinggi? Ketinggian jawatan dan jumlah harta benda akan dinilai sbegai melambangkan ketinggian tahap pemikiran atau kepandaiaan.

Apabila Ahmad yang pandai itu disusahkan oleh bengap-Bengap dalam dunia, maka Ahmad-ahmad lain pun akan mula berpura-pura menjadi bengap. Lama kelamaan, kebengapan menjadi budaya dominan dalam masyarakat. Kebengapan menjadi nilai atau realiti yang baik dan kepandaiaan menjadi nilai yang buruk atau tidak realistik.

Dan yang akan menjadi pemimpin bukahlah yang pandai tetapi yang kurang bengap. Prinsip ini terpakai didalam segenap aspek kehidupan manusia, samada politik, agama, ekonomi dan lain-lain. Ia bermula dengan pengharaman penggunaan akal.