Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Cost of Arrogance

There's arrogance in all of us. We were created that way, so it's in our nature and it'll never change. However, some can control their arrogance and some cannot. Most people, including myself, fall into the second category, the ones who have a hard time controlling their arrogance.

The cost of letting our arrogance take control can sometimes be devastating. It can ruin friendships, destroy marriages, lead into war and killings, and worse, it can inflict the wrath of the All Mighty. An arrogant person will often hurt his/her friends feelings, an arrogant husband who disregards his wife will be the source of a bad marriage, the arrogance of Hitler lead to the massacre of millions of Jews in World War 2, and the arrogance of Satan who refused to bow to Adam lead to the wrath of Allah The All Mighty.

The arrogance of Satan is the worst. Because he knew that he was facing The Sustainer of All Things, The Most Knowledgable of All, yet he still maintained his arrogance and disobeyed. This event is recorded in the Holy Qur'an in Al Hijr verse 31-43

which has approximate meaning:
31: Not so Iblis: he refused to be among those who prostrated themselves.
32: (Allah) said: "O Iblis! what is your reason for not being among those who prostrated themselves?"
33: (Iblis) said: "I am not one to prostrate myself to man, whom Thou didst create from sounding clay, from mud moulded into shape."
34: (Allah) said: "Then get thee out from here; for thou art rejected, accursed.
35: "And the curse shall be on thee till the day of Judgment."
36: (Iblis) said: "O my Lord! give me then respite till the Day the (dead) are raised."
37: (Allah) said: "Respite is granted thee
38: "Till the Day of the Time appointed."
39: (Iblis) said: "O my Lord! because Thou hast put me in the wrong, I will make (wrong) fair-seeming to them on the earth, and I will put them all in the wrong,-
40: "Except Thy servants among them, sincere and purified (by Thy Grace)."
41: (Allah) said: "This (way of My sincere servants) is indeed a way that leads straight to Me.
42: "For over My servants no authority shalt thou have, except such as put themselves in the wrong and follow thee."
43: And verily, Hell is the promised abode for them all!

By the order of Allah, all creatures but Satan bowed to Adam, the first human being. Satan's arguments were based upon the nature of his creation (fire) versus the nature of Adam’s creation (soil/clay). This inflicted the wrath of Allah, and Satan was cursed for eternity. His one promise was to do his best to misguide all of Adam's descendants but a few. The only ones who can avoid Satan's misguidance are the ones who uphold justice and perform good deeds.

Satan's arrogant view on who is more superior is a materialistic view which is actually already widespread and common in our civilization, where one is deemed superior based upon ones ancestral background, nationality, race, richness, etc. This is a view that we need to eradicate if we truly want to uphold equity and justice throughout the human race. Islam teaches us that human beings only differ according to the good they bring for other people.

Arrogance is a dangerous attitude, and it will eventually destroy the person who commits it. The common sense is that arrogant people should have few or no friends. Unfortunately in real life, we often find that people with the most arrogant attitude are the ones who are most popular and liked. The civilization we live in has already become so twisted and has been turned upside down, that many things contradict common sense. I guess Satan has succeeded in his promise to misguide all of Adam's offspring and descendants but only a few.

May we be able to avoid, or at least control our arrogance and be among the guided ones…

keywords: al hijr, 31-43, satan, human nature

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Our greed for this world

There is no doubt that all human beings have the potential to be greedy. When someone follows his/her desires without any other consideration, there is a big chance that they develop their “greed” potential to blossom. Unfortunately, the “coca cola civilization” we currently live in is based on the fulfillment of satisfying desires. Among the products of the civilization, seeking for riches and financial security has become a way of life.

Of course we were MADE to think that riches and financial security can bring us joy, happiness and comfort. This view is only partially true, as it only gives temporary happiness. To maintain this false happiness, one will want to gain more and more, even when he/she doesn’t need it, in order to fulfill lust and desire.

Many will disagree that these so called “rich” people are greedy and they have worked hard for their success. But the facts suggest otherwise. Look at the newest list of the “Top 10 Richest People of the World” from Forbes magazine. In that list, we will find that four people in that list are Indians, the rest are a mix of countries from four different continents.

What’s shocking is that despite contributing up to four people to the list, in India, 45% are living in poverty (according to World Bank’s definition of poverty=people living with less than 2 USD per day). This is a sad fact, because each of these “rich” people have a net fortune of more than 20 billion USD, which is almost enough to feed all the poor people in the world (3 billion people), for one day at least. And with their running businesses, it wouldn’t be hard for them to regain the fortune they have in no time. However, their greed has forbid them from spending most of what they have in charity.

Islam emphasizes that this current life of ours is only temporary, and everything that we own (including our wealth) is only trusted to us from God for the benefit of others. What we truly own is what we give for the benefit of others. Nevertheless, there have and always will be people who are greedy for life. Ones whose hearts are so attached to this world, that it makes them ignorant towards all the suffering around them. The Qur'an describes this situation in Al Baqarah verse 96:

The approximate meaning is:
“And thou wilt find them greediest of mankind for life and (greedier) than the idolaters. (Each) one of them would like to be allowed to live for a thousand years. And to live (a thousand years) would by no means remove him from the doom. Allah is Seer of what they do.”

The verse talks about a group of Jews at the time of the Prophet (saw). They enjoyed life so much that they became greedy and wanted to live for 1000 years to be able to enjoy the wealth, power, and everything that can fulfill their desires. However, as stated before, this life is but temporary, and everyone is destined to die and be taken account for what he/she did in life, good or bad. And at that time, whosoever did bad will taste the payment (doom) for what he did.

Greed is one of the major obstacles to eradicate poverty. If everyone had the consciousness to give in the sake of caring for other people rather than buying something that he/she doesn’t really need, poverty wouldn’t even exist. Islam offers the path towards this. Too bad not even the best Muslims (which are quite a few nowadays) can totally get rid of their desire/greed for this world. May we all be given the power to detach our extensive love towards our wealth and desires.

Keywords: Al Baqarah, 96, wealth, poverty, fortune, richness, world

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Banking interests = rejecting blessing

Bank interest is one of the major features of conventional banking. Be it an investor, a loaner, or a depositor, everyone will receive or pay interest. In the case of deposits, one will receive an added amount of money without any effort. And in the case of borrowing, one must pay a certain amount, surplus to what he/she has borrowed.

People borrow money from modern banks for many purposes, from starting a business to buying a house. Even third world countries borrow from banks/or institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In many cases, the borrowers spend most of their lifetime and efforts to pay off the interest rather than paying the real loan.

Islam clearly prohibits interests in any form. Interest or riba or usury is said to bring more corruption than goodness, Islam prefers charity and fair trade, as mentioned in the Quran, surah Al Baqarah verse 276:

Which has approximate meaning:
“Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked.”

Interests in Islam are viewed to be wicked and cruel. It also erases the blessings that our riches bring to us. Everything we buy which includes the usage of that interest is also deprived of His blessings. Charity and lending money out of good intention is valued as a much better option in Islam.

Unfortunately, even in majorly populated Muslim countries, the so called modern banking system that promotes interest (riba/usury) is still very much dominant. The top banks in Arab are dominated by semi conventional banks such as the National Commercial Bank and Al Rajhi. In Indonesia, the top banks are conventional banks such as Mandiri and Central Bank of Asia (BCA). Nowadays, there are even some banks who claim to take no interest (following the Islamic way), yet only change “interest” into something less intimidating for Muslims such as “benefit”. There is a glimpse of hope though, as there are several Shariah banks (Banks based on Islamic law) which are steadily growing, such as Shariah Mandiri in Indonesia.

I am no economy expert and am unable to dive deeper into the technical differences of conventional and Islamic banking. But the use of no interest is beginning to be partially implemented in several countries such as Japan. In Japan, deposits are not given any interest (0 interest rate), even though loans are still subjected to interest.

The persistency of using the services of these conventional banks might be one of the causes why these Muslim populated countries are in such a bad mess. When the guidance from the Quran and Hadeeth are neglected, Muslims should beware and introspect on all the misery that is given upon them.

May we all be people who have the heart to give in charity and kindness.

Keywords: interest, banking, bank, Islam, Shariah, riba, usury, al baqarah, 276

Monday, October 6, 2008

People Who Challenge and Change Nature

Humans are given free will by God. Choices are ours to take.
This is also true in regard to our attitude towards nature. We have the choice to tamper with nature and adjust it according to our will, and destroying it through our greed or we can cherish it and wisely benefit from it. It seems that our civilization is opting for the first option, which I don’t think is a very wise choice.

We change things in nature to what we think is best for us with our limited knowledge. We tamper with genetic attributes of organisms for our economical benefit, not knowing what the consequences are. We change our appearances through plastic surgery to be more attractive to others (did you know that there were 11.7 million cosmetic procedures in the US in 2006?). We create artificial rain to fill up dams not knowing what effect it may have on global climate. We kill animals that seem dangerous and not beneficial with little or no knowledge about them.

Humans have a tendency to want to take control of everything which is of interest. Unfortunately, we severely lack the knowledge we need to be able to tamper with the ways of nature. Muslims are ordered to think about Allah’s creation, but for goal of understanding it, and realize the Creator’s greatness. However, muslims are ordered to be very careful in utilizing the creations (nature). In fact, the Quran has warned the danger of following the people that change nature. As said in Al Maidah verse 119,

The approximate meaning (Picktall’s translation):

"And surely I will lead them astray, and surely I will arouse desires in them, and surely I will command them and they will cut the cattle's ears, and surely I will command them and they will change Allah's creation. Whoso chooses Satan for a patron instead of Allah is verily a loser and his loss is manifest.”

The verse talks about the disbelievers, which take Satan as their helper. They also walk the path that Satan has built to misguide humanity, giving them false hopes and delusions of grandeur. Allah is the One Who permits this to happen, and verily it is He who knows best. One of their main characteristics is that they will change the nature of Allah’s creation to what they think is better.

Every creation has its purpose, no matter how bad or ugly it may seem for us. Take cockroaches for example. It might be a bit difficult to find anything positive related to this insect. We always relate it to trash, disgusting, and other filthy words. However, cockroaches can serve as bio-control agents in agriculture, to control lepidopteron pests such as moths and butterflies. The ugliest person in our eyes might be the kindest of all, which is what really counts. We should never judge Allah’s creations to be good or bad using our simple and incapable minds, more else change them into what we think is better.

May we all be protected from false hopes and dreams, and be among the righteous.

Keywords: genetic modification, an nisa, 119, greed, Satan, Nature, Choices

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Emigrating To avoid oppression

The word emigration means moving out from one place to another. Nowadays, emigration from one country to another country is very casual. As a matter of fact, for mostly economic reasons, more than 400.000 Britons have emigrated from Britain since 2006. Another example is the emigration of Carpe Varde citizens to the US due to the hardships they face there.

The reasons for people to emigrate may vary from economy, chances of studying, following a spouse, to avoiding oppression. I'd like to emphasize on the last reason, which is to avoid oppression. Many people in many countries have to comprehend with the oppression they receive, either from their own people, or from invading countries. We can find many kinds of oppressions. Some might not even realize that they are oppressed.

In Indonesia for example, oppression is an everyday meal. The rich oppress the poor, the poor oppress the poorer, the strong oppress the weak, and the weak oppress the weaker. This use to only be the case in big cities such as Jakarta, but nowadays it is beginning to become widespread. There is not much to do though, as the media helps spread and mold this situation. It oppresses the mind of Indonesians through continuous nonsense promoting oppression of others (such as useless comedy, mystisism, gossips, entertainment, violence, etc), for their own financial benefits and ideologies. And the worst part is that people can't get enough of it.

Anyway, there are times when people try to fight oppression, but cannot overpower it due to its overwhelming dominance. At this point, the best option is to retreat, and emigrate to find a better place to uphold justice, at least to a place where there is no oppression towards them.

This is also the case in Islam, as Allah has said in the Qur'an, Surah An-Nisa verse 97-100. The verses say that people who are in the state of wronging themselves (when death reaches them) due to the influence/oppression of their society will be among the ones who are in ultimate misfortune. There is exception to this, which is for those who are weak and do not have the knowledge to devise a plan to emigrate by themselves.

Emigrating in the name of Allah in order to seek justice is praised and is a good deed in Islam. Even Prophet Muhammad had to emigrate from Makkah his home city, to Madina, after his people oppressed and drove him away. But then he came back after building the strength of the Muslims to uphold justice and bring goodness to the city. The Prophet's situation somehow mimic the condition that Muslims face today, especially in the west. Where many Muslims are oppressed, taunted and stripped of their freedom to implement their beliefs.

Emigrating should always be looked as a choice when we feel that we can do more good at another place. Whether if it is to emigrate to a new village, a new city, a new province, or even a new country. We should be strong at heart and head and try to let go of the ties which we call home, nation, etc. All of that is on the earth actually belongs to God, and it is for us to manage and benefit from.

keywords: An nisa 97 98 99 100 emigration hijrah oppression islam

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

“Peacekeepers”, the ones who spread mischief and corruption

“…. I'm optimistic because I have faith in freedom's power to lift up all of God's children, and lead this world to a future of peace….”

The above is a quote from a speech given by the President of the US, George W. Bush for the National Republican Convention on the 2nd of September 2008. The speech was delivered as advertisement and endorsement for John McCain as the Republican candidate for the upcoming US President election. The speech is by no means bad, and the US President has delivered many similar speeches, emphasizing in peace, justice and order.

Ironically, contrary to all the speeches on peace, justice, and all sorts of utopia, in the last decade, it is the US who has committed crimes against humanity, invading other country’s territory, and killing thousands of civilians along the way. Even worse, these so called “war against terror” in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2002) were also based on a bunch of lies (no weapons of mass destruction, and no Osama bin Laden capture). There are also immoral conducts reported to be done by the US military there.

For the aftermath, things have even turned for the worse. John Pilger made a documentary in 2004 called “Breaking the Silence”, which gives us an alternative view (from the mainstream media) of what has/is really happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. Regarding Afghanistan he mentioned that “No country has been this devastated since Polpot’s Cambodia.” Besides the invasions, there are also secret operations to interfere with other country’s affairs, especially third world countries in Asia and South America.

In every civilization there will always be people, who claim to be the just, peacekeepers, yet have large contribution towards destruction (physical and moral). It is because peace is not the final goal, rather a jargon to reach what they really want (e.g. wealth, power, stability, comfort). There are also these kinds of people in Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) time, as written in the Qur’an in Surah Al Baqarah verse 11-12:

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ

أَلا إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْمُفْسِدُونَ وَلَـكِن لاَّ يَشْعُرُونَ

The approximate meaning are:
2:11 When it is said to them: "Make not mischief on the earth," they say: "Why, we only Want to make peace!"
2:12 Of a surety, they are the ones who make mischief, but they realize (it) not.

They are the hypocrites who act noble and just in front of people, yet scheme while nobody is looking. They are the ones who spread mischief and corruption. A further verse says that Allah will let their corruption and mischief continue, and even intensify them so that they become lost in their lust and greed (Al Baqarah verse 15).

Those are the words of God, and there are no words truer than that. If we try to contemplate and think deeper (with good prejudice) towards what has been happening lately, these verses mean a lot. May all of us be the ones who are guided on the right path…

Keywords: US, Iraq, Afghanistan, war against terror, mischief, corruption, al baqarah 11 12 15

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Heart Hardness

There are some people who defy truth, and do not want to comply with anything but his/her own desires and lust. This is what we call having a hardened heart. It is one of the most dangerous attitudes, because it will lead to ignorance, the cease of learning and thinking rationally. In many cases, we might also experience glimpses of it, where our common sense and judgment are defeated by our desires.

For a Muslim, the hardening of the heart is one of the most feared punishments from Allah swt, which is the result of continuously disobeying Him. In fact, it is so dangerous that it is mentioned many times in the Holy Quran. A quick search using Islamicity’s Qur’an search resulted in 8 hits.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that many people are already given this punishment due to how they live their lives. Many of us tend to get carried away by the flow of our modern life, develop ignorance, and unconsciously disobey Allah swt. The worst case is illustrated in Surah Al Baqarah verse 74, which provides warning for me and all of us as well. 

ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُم مِّن بَعْدِ ذَلِكَ فَهِيَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْحِجَارَةِ لَمَا يَتَفَجَّرُ مِنْهُ الأَنْهَارُ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَشَّقَّقُ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْهُ الْمَاء وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللّهِ وَمَا اللّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ 

The approximate meaning of the verse is:
“2:74 Thenceforth were your hearts hardened: They became like a rock and even worse in hardness. For among rocks there are some from which rivers gush forth; others there are which when split asunder send forth water; and others which sink for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unmindful of what ye do.”

The verse illustrates the disobedience and denial from Moses’ people, whom after being given miracles over and over, kept looking away from the truth. Their hearts are illustrated to be harder that rocks. Rocks however, are breakable. Constant water flow can carve rocks through erosion, which is unlike the hearts of those who deny after given clear proof.

I believe that with strong effort, our hearts can be purified again. Through total submission we will be able to gain true tranquility in our hearts. This however, can only be achieved with sufficient knowledge on what the right path is, and there is no better time to increase our effort to learn than in Ramadhan. I hope we all strive to find ultimate truth, and be among those whom hearts are pure.

Keywords: Heart Hard Islam Al Quran Al Baqarah 74

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our wealth and justice

Most people around the world have a dream, where you’ll be sufficient and happy by earning enough money to enjoy life and keep you financially secure for the rest of your life, very much influenced by the “American dream” really. This point of view affects almost every aspect of life, including how we comprehend justice. Although more and more people are beginning to be aware with our misperception of justice, let’s face it, most are seeing justice from the eyes of the powerful and rich (where the weak and poor are non-factors and dispensable).

As long as the rich are frightened to lose their wealth, and the poor struggle to stay alive, justice will always remain untrue and discriminative. At least that is what’s happening right now in my home country, Indonesia (and in many third world countries I believe). The corrupts run loose and enjoy their loot because they can afford to, while petty thieves (that often need to steal to stay alive) are often beaten to death. The rich become richer and more comfortable, while the poor become poorer and more miserable. No justice there I feel. And how often do we stand still when someone steps all over the justice we believe in?

True justice is somewhere hidden inside our hearts, covered by our interests, lust, and greed. We need to shred those individual interests, lust and greed away, in order to see and be brave to uphold true justice. For a Muslim, the best way to shred individual interest is to fully commit him/herself towards God’s sake. Unfortunately, although many people are said to be Muslims, they aren’t putting enough effort to understanding Islam and act upon the teachings.

Purifying our hearts
Islam teaches us NOT to put wealth in our heart, because wealth corrupts the heart, it will surely be exhausted (one way or another) and cannot be of any true help to us in the face of calamity, as presented in the holy Qur’an (Al Kahf verse 32-44). Wealth should not become an obsession or goal, yet should only be used as a tool to reach blessing (by helping the poor, supporting orphans, etc.). By not putting wealth in our heart, we will be able to have clearer perception on things, including our perception towards justice.

Muslims are explicitly ordered to uphold justice. If there are any Muslims doing the opposite, then they have deliberately disobeyed Allah. As said in the Quran in An-Nahl verse 90, the verse has approximate meaning:

“Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.”

The verse is very clear, direct and easy to understand. Islam brings human beings back to fitrah, our natural state, so everything in Islam should be natural for us (=easy to do).

As I have mentioned, our incapability to see justice is because it is covered up by our interests, lust and greed to what is offered by this world of ours. Everybody, no matter how corrupt, are built by Allah to have justice in their hearts. I know I have simplified many things in this post, and the problem is probably more complex. But I believe that our lust and greed is one of the main culprits. And for a Muslim, the reasons above are more than enough reason to be brave in upholding justice.

Keywords: An Nahl verse 90, Al Kahf verse 32-44, justice

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Our most dearest

As human beings, we have a tendency to care about the things that we own or have. Be it our parents, our family, our career, our wealth, and everything else we have. It’s perfectly OK for us to care for them. However, the things we care about sometimes interfere with what we believe in. For a Muslim, there is a possibility that our care and love inhibits us in fulfilling our destiny to be Allah’s Khalifa (leader) on earth, to be blessings for the universe. In another word, our love for other things competes with our ultimate love for Allah.

How many times have you sacrificed what you believe is right for the sake of your family, your career, for increasing your wealth, or other things? Although all of them may correlate and can be synergized, there are times when we have to choose our priority. One example is to walk a path/career which is forced on to you by other people. For a Muslim, he/she is supposed to pray at the beginning of the praying time, which is the best time to pray. But our business often makes us postpone it until the last minutes. Be it our work, our travel, or even merely chatting with friends. There are even times when some of us are “forced” to combine prayers (jama) when we actually don’t need to, or even forget it completely.

Allah has given a warning in the holy Quran about this through surah At Taubah verse 24 about this.

قُلْ إِن كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَآؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُم مِّنَ اللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُواْ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ

The approximate meaning is:
“Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which ye fear a decline, or the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah, or His Prophet, or the striving in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His decision. And God guides not the rebellious.”

This warning should not be taken lightly. As I am very sure that many Muslims, including myself, often put a lot of things in priority above obeying Allah’s commands, things that often have nothing to do with striving in Allah’s cause. However we love something, it should not distance us from Our Lord. And to uphold Islam, this bad habit has to change…

So what IS dearest to you?

Many of us may not read the Qur'an that often, or even if we do, we don't understand the meaning. It is what is causing Islam's decay. People walking around saying that they are Muslims without knowing what it truly is. It has to change. Read it bit by bit, and you will definitely find many interesting things that you never thought you'd find. May all of us be able to fulfill our destiny of becoming Allah’s Khalifah through love and total devotion towards Allah.

Keywords: At taubah 24, Islam, religion, quran, holy, qur'an, love

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Facing the enemy's deceits

Enemies are real. They don't only show up in fictional cartoons, movies, or books. They are real, even though sometimes we don't know who or where they are. It can be the most unexpected person. It can even be your co-worker trying to make his/her way to the top (and thinks that you are an obstacle).

Well, I believe that no matter how good a person we are, we are bound to make enemies in some point of our lives. The Qur'an also informs us that even the prophets of monotheism had their enemies. Yusuf (Joseph) a.s. had to face his jealous brothers and the deceits of his master's wife (when he was a slave), Moses a.s. had to face the not mighty pharaoh, Isa (Jesus) a.s. had to face the Jewish rulers and priests, and Muhammad s.a.w. had to face the Quraish leaders (and even now after his death he still has to face many forms of enemies).

One of the assault weapons that people use nowadays are lies and deceits. The war happens in the media. The art on how to create and direct opinions of the public. The prophet Muhammad (and Islam literally) has recently been battered by several media games (the cartoons by jylland-posten in the name of free speech, the "fitna" movie by Geert Wilders, and other forms of mockery), which was responded inelegantly by most of the Islamic community by doing disrespectful actions (by burning flags, vandalism, etc).

I know everyone is upset and angry, but how should we respond?

According to surah Al An'aam (112), insults, mockery, lies towards Islam is by Allah's will.

Here's the 'aayah:
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَا لِكُلِّ نِبِيٍّ عَدُوًّا شَيَاطِينَ الإِنسِ وَالْجِنِّ يُوحِي بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ زُخْرُفَ الْقَوْلِ غُرُورًا وَلَوْ شَاء رَبُّكَ مَا فَعَلُوهُ فَذَرْهُمْ وَمَا يَفْتَرُونَ

The approximate meaning is:
And thus it is that against every prophet We have set up as enemies the evil forces from among humans as well as from among invisible beings that whisper unto one another glittering half-truths meant to delude the mind. But they could not do this unless thy Sustainer had so willed: stand, therefore, aloof from them and from all their false imagery!

He, The Almighty has promised it in the Qur'an, and has also given us instruction on what to do. The best respond is to not make it a big deal. We should counter it by straightening the misunderstanding, say that it's wrong, and just move on and continue being good muslims. If we get eaten up with the issue and overreact, we have successfully fallen into their trap...

May we all be given the power to stay poised and patient in facing all our enemies...

Keywords: Muhammad Mohammed Mohamed Cartoon Danish Newspaper Quran Terrorism Islam al an'aam al anaam 112

Monday, May 5, 2008

Our insignificant knowledge

Human beings are curious creatures. We try our best to understand what we don't understand, and do a pretty good job in doing so. We've came a long way since the beginning of history. From only knowing how to use modified rocks, to being able to understand and utilize complex matters such as chemical compounds, microbes, genes, and nano-materials. Without doubt, science plays a very strong part in our current way of life. As through it we are able to enjoy the luxury of the things we currently enjoy, such as electricity, internet, soap, and gazillions of others that are too much to mention.

Humans were destined to be great. We are the only creatures that can build and use our knowledge for our benefits. It gives us the potency to be most noble among all of God's creatures. There are thousands of scientific papers and articles that report new findings at a daily basis (which also shows that there is still much to learn). However, our overwhelming knowledge can be too much to handle sometimes. As it can often make us over confident and even worse, arrogant. It makes us think that we can control and solve EVERYTHING. Acting as god... We tend to be ignorant that all the knowledge that humanity has gained, is actually insignificant to what is NOT known... Like a drop of water in the big blue ocean.

One of the ultimate questions that is yet to be solved by science is the mystery of life and death. Nobody can predict when someone is going to die, how the process is, and so on. And nobody can predict the exact time a baby will be born. The matter is beyond our knowledge and science, and I believe that it is a secret that only God knows. Besides life and death, there are many questions that humanity is still baffled about. The entity of time, the magnitude of the universe, the work of the brain, are just several among the unsolved questions we have.

Furthermore, our knowledge is also prone to mistakes. An article in newscientist published in 2005 describes that most reports in scientific papers are wrong. Claiming that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true (it probably also applies for the article itself). Which is astonishing, as the scientific community and the papers they publish represent the front liners of scientific development, and science itself.

The wrap up is that our science and knowledge is limited, insignificant, and prone to mistakes. So we should stop being arrogant, and accept that we have our limits (but it doesn't mean we can stop learning! Just stop being arrogant). So how insignificant is our knowledge anyway? I believe that it is so insignificant that there will always be something new to discover until the end of time.

May we all be given the heart to stay down to earth no matter how much we know...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thinking about the choices we make

Whether we realize it or not, we are faced with options everyday.

We choose whether to take the bus or the train, to wake up early or late, to eat in or eat out, etc. The examples above are relatively easy to choices to make.

However, there are also times when we are faced with difficult ones, choices that will alter our way of life, such as when we are faced to choose a career, choose a partner in life (husband or wife), choose to have children or not, choose to do good or bad, choose a religion, etc. Even though we have made extensive research, there is still a large possibility that we become unsatisfied with the choices we make, and think that we've taken the wrong options.

So how do we know that we've made the right choices or not? Well, at the time we take the choice, we don't know for sure. All we can do is have confidence (hey, we've done our research right?), take the consequences and what is equally important, is to pray that our choices are correct and that whatever happens is for the best.

The maze of choices in life

Our life is like a maze with many right paths. Each choice we make contributes towards where we end up. But we have to beware that there are also dead ends. So pay attention to the clues and signs that might randomly show up. As in a maze, we can sometimes get lost in this world with all its offerings and glitters, which we should be aware of. For Muslims, we are lucky to be obliged to pray and be reminded for at least 17 times every day in our prayers to stay in the right path, "shiraathal ladziina an'amta 'alaihim", at least to protect our awareness.

May we all be guided on the path of righteousness, and be blessed with whatever choices we make in life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Being grateful

I bet that everyone wants better things from what they have. Better earnings, better looks, better career, better computer, better car, better brain, better this, better that, better life...

Well let me tell you that it's perfectly human. One would always want better things from what one has. I guess we humans are cursed (and blessed) with this trait. It makes us progressive beings, who always seek for what is best.

Unfortunately, there are times when this trait makes us envious towards what other people have. And in turn make us ungrateful for what we ALREADY have. I know the feeling because I often experience it. If it gets too chronic and gets a hold on me, I become unfocused and spend a lot of energy on it (being envious and daydreaming takes quite an amount of energy you know...).

Anyway, the cure for envy is to be grateful for what we have. We often forget that the small details that God has given us are actually BIG blessings. The fact that we still have perfectly functional eyes to read this post is one of them. Having perfect hands to type with, having the luxury of internet connection, having the money to eat properly 3 times a day (sometimes more), being able to breath and all the little things that somehow slip our mind are all BIG blessings.

Being able to witness God's marvels are only one of the many blessings He has given us

Rather than looking up, try to look down to others that aren't as lucky as us. Say Alhamdulillahirabbil 'alamiin. "Praise be to Allah the lord of the worlds." And pledge ourselves to help those who are less lucky than us.

I hope we can all be grateful for the blessings that are given to us, and have tranquility in our hearts.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Our motives

Everything we do must have a reason, a motive behind it.

Our typical modern lives force our motivation to be dedicated to our family, career, money, hobby, lust, etc. And it is very difficult to create balance between them (for me anyway). There are also times where we get torn between our priorities, get obsessed into something and end up making a decision we regret. Furthermore, there might also be people who neglect common sense in order to pursue their ambition or motive, in the cost of other people.

In Islam, we are ordered to say Bismillahirahmaanirrahiim whenever we want to do anything. It is the opening verse of the Qur'an, which has meaning: "by the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful". By saying this, we pledge ourselves in Allah's path, and all other motives blend and harmonize with it. We are ordered to do our best to become blessing for the universe, and to be beneficial for other people. It is supposed to create balance in our lives, and in turn make us better and happier people.

Nowadays, a lot of Muslims do not realize the philosophy behind "bismillahirahmaanirrahiim". They just say it as a formality, as a good luck charm, or just as a custom. This is far beyond what the sentence really means, and thus does not create the impact it is supposed to create.

I hope we are all given the wisdom and knowledge to grasp the best motivation to carry in our lives...

The purpose

As can be deduced from the title, this blog is dedicated to try to understand the Quran. I'm going to be using simple analogy and words for doing it. I believe that when we read the Quran (or any other books) with a clear heart and positive mind, we will find the beauty in what we read. Anyway, I am going to do my best to articulate what I can learn and find interesting. I believe there are many Muslims out there who don't fully understand what is written in the Quran (including myself), and others that are just curious about what is written in it.

Hopefully we can gain knowledge and better understanding on the Holy Quran, and share it with everyone else...