27 September 2010

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 September 15, 2010
From small issues to firestorms
By Marina Mahathir

Please do note the irony that the same people protesting the burning of the Quran are the ones who would be quick to call for the death of some author they consider apostate.

HOW many ironies can you layer on this story? A belligerent ignoramus with a congregation of a measly 50 people in Florida threatens to burn Qurans and thousands of miles away, Afghans who may have never previously heard of Florida get killed protesting against him.

So, without burning a single Quran, the guy’s managed to get at least two people killed. How much power is that?

The thing is not only is he not worth dying for but nothing of the sort would have happened had not someone decided that the masses, already suffering from occupation, should occupy their time protesting this.

Was the Quran-burning directed at Afghanistan? Not particularly. Yet nobody else in the Muslim world, least of all in the more prosperous countries including ours, felt inclined to interrupt their Hari Raya celebrations to protest against this insult.

Which of course it was meant to be. And nothing gets you frontpage headlines like insulting an entire global community, never mind that the faith you so proudly declare yourself a proud defender of does not support any such behaviour. Already your own brethren are denouncing you, but how else would you have gotten the Secretary of Defence himself to call you personally to beg you to cease and desist?

When it comes to attention seeking, there is nothing quite like these little demagogues. Take some stupid idea and simply shout it out and it is bound to get you noticed. And the media obliges. Wouldn’t a bonfire of burning Qurans make a great photo? Might even win an award!

Conventional politicians have nothing on these guys. Issue a statement or a protest note to the nearest diplomat? How tame and lame! You need big statements, delivered with much fanfare and drama. Or better still, you should issue a counter-threat! If Rev Jones burns the Quran, Afghans will lock up more women at home. Or Malaysians will … let’s see, stop watching American Idol?

The biggest irony of all is that nobody stops to think about book-burning itself. It’s a medieval tradition, used against books deemed evil because they gave people the wrong ideas. It effectively stopped people from reading them because, in the days when books were a relatively rare commodity, burning a few would obliterate those particular books from the earth.

But these days, there are only so many Qurans one can burn. The approximately two billion Muslims in the world all have at least one, if not more. Then there are the non-Muslims who also own Qurans. All in all, the number of Qurans Terry Jones wants to burn is miniscule compared to what is available out there. That’s not even counting the Qurans you can read online.

A better way of protesting would be what some Christians have proposed, which is to have a Read the Quran Day on Sept 11. In London, British Muslims plan to distribute booklets with selected verses from the Quran all over the West End. Like all books, holy or not, they should be read before they are condemned so that one criticises from an informed stand. And like many have also pointed out, the Quran also talks about the same prophets who are in the Torah and Bible, including Jesus. Imagine burning them up!

But while we think of burning books as the extreme form of censorship (and insult to a religion), we forget about other forms much beloved by our own people. We love banning books for instance, making the possession of such a book illegal and liable to punishment. How much different is that really from burning books? And who is to stop some other attention-seeking demagogue from issuing fatwas calling for the death of some author just because they don’t like his or her book?

Please do note the irony that the same people in Afghanistan protesting the burning of the Quran are also the same who would be quick to call for the death of some author they consider apostate.

Terry Jones’ burning a few Qurans does not mean that Islam dies in flames. Indeed, it has lived through far worse. What is the need to get so worked up about it to the point of getting killed? Are people hoping to be considered martyrs and therefore get a free passage to heaven? I’m hoping that God keeps a special corner for foolish people although it’s likely to get very cramped soon.

Meanwhile, let’s look at our own attitudes towards differing opinions. What is the current trend for making police reports but yet another form of censorship? Aren’t we in fact asking for people to be burnt at the stake?

06 September 2010

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 September 1, 2010
Disturbed in heart and mind
By Marina Mahathir

The Shah Rukh Khan hit movie ‘My Name is Khan’ holds a pertinent message for us: there are only good and bad people in this world; there are no other differences.

IT’S very strange, but as we enter our 54th year of independence, what I least feel is independent. It so happened that I had to travel far recently, to a land where the air was a lot cleaner.

I felt that I breathed a lot easier but I don’t think it was just the air. Once you get away, the air just feels so much less toxic.

Indeed, in the month of Ramadan – the month of reflection and restraint – we find instead more toxicity than ever.

From school principals who spout racist nastiness to politicians and media who insist on poisoning what is already a poisoned well.

Instead of the serenity one hopes to feel at this time, in order to feel closer to God, all I can feel is the disturbance in the heart and mind that comes from living in an environment of hate.

It’s not that I’m lacking in loving friends, family or neighbours.

I live in a lovely street where we know one another and help each other out.

My friends are the kindest in the world. I feel blessed to know all of them.

But I open the newspaper or switch on the TV and there is nothing but anger and sadness.

How can we call ourselves independent when we are so caught up by hate, none of which seems to have any real foundation at all?

A few thousand kilometres away, the rhetoric of hate has become mainstream.

In the United States, Islamophobia is reaching fever pitch, fuelled as always by politics.

No American politician worth his salt, especially if he’s standing for election this November, will avoid talking about religion, affirming his own and besmirching others.

A rally by the most rabid right-wingers to supposedly “reclaim honour” drew 87,000 people.

The direct result of all this hate-mongering was the stabbing of a New York cabbie after he told his passenger he was Muslim and the burning of a mosque in Tennessee.

When we look in horror at these events on the other side of the world and feel indignant and self-righteous about them, do we think how we might ourselves contribute to the same treatment to others?

We see how badly minorities are treated in those countries and see no irony in treating our minorities the same way.

Is our empathy only meant for those of the same faith as us?

In Surah 21, verse 92 of the Quran, God speaks: “Verily, [O you who believe in Me,] this community of yours is one single community, since I am the Sustainer of you all: worship, then, Me [alone]!”

And again in Surah 33, verse 35: “Verily, for all men and women who have surrendered themselves unto God, and all believing men and believing women, and all truly devout men and truly devout women, and all men and women who are true to their word, and all men and women who are patient in adversity, and all men and women who humble themselves [before God], and all men and women who give in charity, and all self-denying men and self-denying women, and all men and women who are mindful of their chastity, and all men and women who remember God unceasingly: for [all of] them has God readied forgiveness of sins and a mighty reward.”

In both these verses, and in fact in the entire Quran, God does not speak of particular races but simply to all humankind. We are all equal before God.

How is it that we missed this simple message?

If we knew it, would we be spreading toxins instead of love and respect for one another?

Do we have the independence of mind to believe, rather than to follow those who claim to know what’s good for us but in fact are poisoning us bit by bit?

I just watched the Shah Rukh Khan hit movie My Name is Khan for the second time.

In Malaysia, someone saw fit to censor a lot of it, particularly whenever it showed a Muslim being bad.

Everyone, regardless of race or religion, has a chance to be good and bad in the movie.

Censoring it, in fact, was a great disservice to Muslims and missed its central message.

When the Shah Rukh Khan character was a child, his mother told him a truth that he held onto all his life: there are only good and bad people in this world.

There are no other differences between human beings.

Perhaps we should make all our politicians watch it.

They might learn something not very new. They might learn that most of us can tell who’s good and who’s bad.