21 February 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday February 14, 2007

Lesson for humankind

Musing: By Marina Mahathir

DO we sometimes wonder why the world is larger than the little space that we call our home and our country? Surely it is because we are meant to explore it, to see if it is the same as our space or not. And why is it there are different people in the world; people who look, dress, eat and think differently? Surely we are meant to take note of that, and not ignore it.

I am wondering this because there is a reason for that saying, “katak di bawah tempurung”, the frog who thinks the world is only as large as the coconut above his head. I have been fortunate that I have been able to travel to many places around the globe and meet so many different people. The human race is truly a wondrous one, with so many shades and features. And yet sometimes you meet someone on the other side of the world and they remind you of someone at home.

Even when we think we have things in common, we realise that sometimes we don’t. Muslims in Malaysia, for instance, feel an immediate kinship with every other Muslim they meet elsewhere in the world.

Which is nice of course, and indeed good reason to feel a bond. But when you really talk to one another, then we start to realise differences. (I have to add that if there is one more good reason to learn to speak English, it is that otherwise you cannot speak to Muslims from other countries!).

The differences are not necessarily bad. In fact, they make you think. Last November I went to a meeting of Muslim women in New York. The participants came from the entire spectrum of Islamic interpretation.

But what they had in common were simply that they all felt that women should not be excluded from participating in all aspects of life, that women’s voices were important. Another thing that they had in common also, even from the most conservative sectors, was that our religion did not allow discrimination of any kind, whether based on sex, race or religion.

How different is this from some people at home! Are they right? Or is the way we think at home correct? If that meeting was an aberration, I just had confirmation this last week that it wasn’t. At the Perdana Global Peace Forum last week, Muslim speaker after Muslim speaker spoke of the need for the unity of humankind against oppression.

They refused to see the many conflicts and injustices around the world as between people of one religion against another, specifically against Muslims and Islam. They would keep saying that God honours all the sons of Adam, not any specific community.

Yet these were often people who had suffered terribly in the hands of oppressors who were, though not always, of different faiths from them. They had been tortured and humiliated but they refused to bow to their oppressors, nor be bitter and angry. They said, “The more your (oppressors) chains rust, the more our will renews” and “Your chains will not break the will of victory.”

They quoted the Quran and the hadith asserting that God is not merciful to those who are not merciful to mankind.

They kept insisting that to frame the current conflicts in the world as a religious one was to play into the hands of the oppressors. This is a conflict of all humankind against the inhumane, the people who would march into a country not their own in order to kill and maim and yet pretend that this is all for the benefit of their victims and the good of the world.

How little we know about the true sufferings of the world, us in our comfortable country! We complain about power breakdowns and water shortages, yet other people have had to live with not only no water and electricity but homes that had been brutally razed to the ground.

We whine about petty things, yet others have had fathers and sons disappear for months, only to return barely alive and maimed, if they return at all. We take for granted our ability to walk around undisturbed, and not realise that for people in Iraq, that is now an unimaginable luxury. We don’t know the true meaning of freedom because we have never been deprived of it.

Still these people insist on not blaming The Other, but instead power-mad people, including some of their own countrymen, who have lost their human compassion, who deprive others of their rights so brutally.

To maintain one’s humanity in such circumstances becomes to them a duty to God. That includes never oppressing others on any basis. We have so much to learn from them.