Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Words Come Easy When They Are True

As I walked out of my office yesterday, Robbie William's "Shame" gently knocked my soul especially when it comes to this part of the song, "Words Come Easy When They Are True". How true isn't it?

So, when I spent my time listening to the Third installment of ETP over BFM this morning, after listening to the first two, it dawns on me why we think this ETP thingy is so superfluous - that it is difficult to mince the ideas because we know, deep down, those words uttered and printed are far from the real truth.

Thank God, after such sad interview with the Lab Leader, BFM had the Great Sal Khan for its Breakfast Grille - this is someone we all need to know and emulate more. May God bless him and his beloved family.

As if to rub salt to the wounds to ETP, BFM played Kula Shaker's "Tattva" - " Like the flower and the scent of summer, Like the sun and the shine, Well the truth may come in strange disguises, Send a message to your mind"

Yes, Buddha once said, "Three things cannot be hidden for long: the sun, the moon and the truth".

May the truth prevails and we will all know it is one when the words come easy....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Khun Korn's Cool Strategies For Thailand

I am sure Oxford would be really happy to see one of his 'disciples' came out and made sense to his people and country. For once, it's enlightening to see that there are a few bankers that work out sensible and morally right economic strategies. For that, Khun Korn Chatikavanij is indeed my Hero.

Move over BN Youth Lab, PEMANDU and ETP.

In case you guys did not read Newsweek (though most offices subscribe to this powerful and insightful editorials), let me share with you how he (Global Finance Minister Winner) steers his country clear of choppy water, at the back of recurring Red Shirt Protests here in this article. How I wish you could understand the real woes of our country before bombarding us, common people, with (nuclear)bomb-astic 'angan-angan'.

Korn Chatikavanij, Thailand’s finance minister, is a quintessential policy wonk who managed to steer his country to a quick economic recovery, in large part due to a $30 billion stimulus package he devised. The Oxford-educated former investment banker spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Jerry Guo about the country’s tumultuous politics and its economic potential.


At a time when Western economies are still struggling, Thailand is projected to reach 8 percent growth this year. What’s driving this?

The fact that external demand has improved from 2009 levels has meant that those of us with open economies in Southeast Asia will do well. Export has been strong to fellow Asian nations, so we have been somewhat protected from the [ongoing] weakness in the euro zone and U.S. The biggest growth in terms of markets for us has been China and the ASEAN nations. We’ve also had a very successful government stimulus since the beginning of 2009.

What made Thailand’s fiscal spending during the crisis so effective?

We needed something that would replace the disappearing external demand and replace it pretty quickly. The first step was designed for short-term impact: we literally wrote about 9 million checks to low-income households for $70, in the belief that [they] would have the greatest elastic demand and we would be able to leverage that increased spending in the domestic economy. That worked really quite well. On top of that, we also provided extra old-age stipends to about 6 million pensioners and provided income guarantees for 4 million farmers who were almost all in the low-income bracket.

Is any of this growth driven by manufacturers fleeing China as costs there increase?

Countries like Vietnam and, to a different degree, Thailand somewhat benefited from that, but more Vietnam than us. They are more into low-cost manufacturing than we are; we went through that about two decades ago. The biggest post-China opportunity…isn’t taking over their manufacturing mantle, but accelerating urbanization and a demographic change—a high percentage of the Asian population will be retirees—in countries like India and China. Both these trends play to Thailand’s strengths. Urbanization means increased food consumption; [retirees] means demand for travel.

How will your government address the underlying social and economic problems brought to light by the so-called red-shirt protesters?

There are three simultaneous approaches. One is a security approach, making sure we are not actually going after individual protesters but holding the ringleaders accountable legally; we’re in the process of filing charges. A second approach is addressing the issues that were raised: social inequality and poverty, issues that the government takes very seriously. For instance, we are working to refinance all loan-shark debt, which has been a cancer in our system. We’ve refinanced over 400,000 individual accounts. We need to do more of this and make people realize the government makes them a priority. They don’t need to protest. A third approach is the truth-and-reconciliation process, to find out what happened during the crackdown…This is being handled by an independent body, and we’re hoping results will come within the year.

The Western narrative of the protests this spring was that it was a class struggle between urban and rural Thais. Is this accurate?

I don’t believe the Western narrative is correct. There is a genuine income-distribution gap. There are genuine differences in people’s access to resources. All of these need to be addressed as quickly as we can. Arguably this government has done more for the poor than any recent government. The big truth is these inequalities do exist, but the big lie was that this was what the conflict was about. It wasn’t. The conflict was really [deposed prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters wanting to regain power, wanting to overturn the corruption conviction against him, and wanting to get back his ill-gotten assets. What we’re really facing is a small group of instigators trying to overthrow the core pillars of Thailand.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Look of Love

A master asked his disciples, "Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?"

The disciples thought for a while, and one of them said, "Because we lose our calm, we shout for that".

"But, why to shout when the other person is just next to you? Isn’t it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you’re angry?"

The disciples gave him some other answers but none satisfied the master.

Finally he explained, "When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance".

Then the master asked, "What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small…"

And he finally said, "When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other".

~ From Paulo Coelho's "Why to Shout?"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dari Johor ke Pulau Mutiara

Tomorrow, Chu and her family will be having their Open House upnorth and Chu has decided to 'import' one cook (and a kitchen helper - that's me) from Klang Valley to prepare the authentic Johorean dishes.

If I were to ask me what would be the perfect dishes from Johore, that would be Nasi Beriani Gam, Laksa Johor, all kind of kuih kacau (kacau keledek, suji), Koleh Kacang and Bubur Kacang Pol.

So, Hello Nasi Kandar, Bye Bye weight lost during puasa (:P as if there's any) :)

Have a great yummy weekend all.

p.s. Drool at my dear bro's post on "Line Clearrr" and make a point to stay at the refurbished Lone Pine.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In A Life Of A Boy...

Over the weekend, 2 groups of boys came ‘beraya’ at my house as they saw my father busied shoveling the soil to plant my ‘ubi kayu’ sticks Mak Ngah gave me last weekend* (yes, I stressed mine because I was supposed to plant them but Ayah – well, he enjoys doing things for me even at my age, I am indeed forever blessed).

The first group came on their bikes on Saturday morning, with sweats rushing down their temples. I ushered them in, after they said they wanted to ‘makan kuih raya’ responding to Mak’s joking remark, “Nak Makan Ke Nak Duit Raya” (back in kampong, most kids would tell us upfront that they just want ‘Duit Raya”).

So, they were munching on almond biscotti (the nuts are good for your brain my dear), some salty knotted mini popia, chocolaty cookies and gulping 2 glasses of Ribena each (:D only after this I watched Ribena’s ads on TV – enough with ‘Air Sirap’ for kids!) while Mak asked them the usual stuffs. Bouncing looks amongst themselves, it seemed that they wanted to stay a little longer and enjoyed the snacks and drink while they can - after all, the sun shone so brightly. As always, I have a soft spot for kids (Read: Spoiling them if I was given a chance to do) and being around them never fails to make my eyes watery because it’s overwhelming to be able to smell innocence and courage rolled into a bundle of cells we called a child.

As they shook my hands stepping out of the door, I told them to be a smart and good boy. Clinching Duit Raya envelope in their hand, I followed them till they were out of my sight. As if able to sense that they were being watched, they turned around and grinned shyly. Since their group was the first to visit, I make a point to give double the amount of my usual Duit Raya. Plus, Ayah told us afterwards that my neighbours across the road ignored them when they gave their Salam. That’s not the first time they do that – I have watched the same incident last year. I wonder if Raya is exclusive to those we know and care these days. Such a pitiful reality during this supposedly meaningful Eid Mubarak, especially when it involves those who are capable enough to spread some joy – materially.

How could we turn away from children, as if they are of lesser important subjects?

Many of today’s social problems amongst our children stem from ignorance and indifference displayed by their supposedly-to-be role models – us, the so-called grown-ups. Many seek comfort and attention from anyone they spend most of their time with; even when deep down they know such company won’t be a lasting and genuine one, doing things to slowly pass their time.

Full of energy and hormones, we ought to be doing more for these kids so that they could dispense their exuberance in ways that could shape their future.

One of the criteria of Happy People, based on an e-book Sir Walla shared with me, is to embrace togetherness through culture and sports. Co-curriculum activities in school should be made readily available to anyone interested for free and these activities should be tailor made to suit children’s exuberance, seamless energy and curiosity. You must be thinking that I am being unfair putting more such responsibility to our teachers but I hope you would see the special role of school in uniting children, providing opportunities to them to do their best and giving surmountable benefits to address rampant social injustice.

Yes, children always make me cry and if you read these 2 poignant poems, you would understand why I feel that way.

Whose Child Is This?
~ Author Unknown

"Whose child is this?" I asked one day
Seeing a little one out at play
"Mine", said the parent with a tender smile
"Mine to keep a little while
To bathe his hands and comb his hair
To tell him what he is to wear
To prepare him that he may always be good
And each day do the things he should"

"Whose child is this?" I asked again
As the door opened and someone came in
"Mine", said the teacher with the same tender smile
"Mine, to keep just for a little while
To teach him how to be gentle and kind
To train and direct his dear little mind
To help him live by every rule
And get the best he can from school"

"Whose child is this?" I ask once more
Just as the little one entered the door
"Ours" said the parent and the teacher as they smiled
And each took the hand of the little child
"Ours to love and train together
Ours this blessed task forever"

One Hundred Years from now
(excerpt from "Within My Power" by Mr. Forest E. Witcraft)

One Hundred Years from now
It will not matter
What kind of car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much money was in my bank account
Nor what my clothes looked like.
But the world may be a better place because
I was important in the life of a child

p.s. On third day of Raya, Pak Ngah and Mak Ngah cooked their famous Chicken Rice and also served us ‘Ubi Kayu Rebus’ and ‘Sambal Tumis Ikan Bilis’. The ‘ubi kayu’ was so tender till the centre I just had to ask Mak Ngah where she got her ubi from. She told me it was from her backyard garden.

Out of nowhere, I turned myself into Ms. DooLittle (after many months of disappearance) and asked if she could share with me the sticks. With her parang, I was smiling from ear to ear watching her swift moves cutting the plant into 1-foot-long sticks. She told me to plant the stick in pairs (so they could support each other when they grow tall) and to remember ‘yang mana pangkal yang mana hujung’. So, in 6-month time, I would sink my teeth into them. Get to know more about ‘ubi kayu’ here in my previous post “
A Curious Case of Cassava”.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Turkey's 12 Giant Men and Erdogan

My dear friend said to me before that if he could choose to do something to change the direction of this nation, he is ever so happy to coach a school's sports team.

I know how true that is looking at result of 2010 FIBA World Championship Final, held in Istanbul about a week ago. Turkey's 12 Giant Men were beaten by American team 61 to 84. Wait! I've never heard of Turkey doing so well in Basketball and it took a 16-year long wait before the American clinched the championship (too engrossed with NBA perhaps). Amazingly, unbeknown to many, Turkey is amongst the rarest countries in the world that has an article related to sports in her Constitutions, "The State takes measure to develop the physical and mental health of Turkey citizens of all ages and encourages the spread of sports amongst the masses. The State protects successful athletes" (Article 59).

During the same weekend, 58% of Turks voted "YES" to a package of Constitutional Amendments, which appears to be liberal that could strengthen democracy in Turkey - a Muslim Country with NATO's membership and an aspiring candidate for EU. The amendments, ranging from civilian trials to military officers; the rights of women, the elderly, handicapped people and children will be enhanced; restrictions on unions will be lifted; and individuals will have greater privacy rights to the ability to appeal to the Constitutional Court, also will bring about significant restructuring of its secular judicial system, where power of appointment of judges and prosecutors would be given to the President and legislature. While this unfounded issue has been overplayed by CHK, the secular opposition, market analysts opine that the success of AK's push for amendments is heavily attributed to Erdogan's continued political and economical stability. Poised for third term in the office, Erdogan and his single-party government are in comfortable driver seats to push for their causes, which not only shaken the Turks, but also the West, especially those of Zionist's supporters in the light of its support to continues its business with lone ranger Iran and Mavi Mara Flotilla to Gaza a few months back.

Turkey has embraced the spirit of doing things differently and they have reaped their fruits of labour in time of debilitating economic crisis that hits most EU countries.

Taking from Bloomberg, I would like to share "Erdogan's New Elite" for your reading.

Yes, you can call Erdogan's Turkey anti-secular, terrorist and all, but giving democratic right to its citizens in policy-making clearly reflects their priority that Rakyat is the boss.

Maktub - Part 3

“I’m going away”, he said. “And I want you to know that I’m coming back. I love you because…”

“Don’t say anything”, Fatima interrupted. “One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving”.

But the boy continued, “I had a dream, and I met with a king. I sold crystal and crossed the desert. And, because the tribes declared war, I went to the well, seeking the Alchemist. So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you”.

“I’ll be back”, the boy said.

“Before this, I always looked to the desert with longing”, said Fatima. “Now it will be with hope”.

“You’re crying?”

“I’m a woman of the desert”, she said, averting her face. “But above all, I’m a woman”.

Fatima went back to her tent, and, when daylight came, she went out to do the chores she had done for years. But everything had changed. The boy was no longer at the oasis, and the oasis would never again have the same meaning it had had only yesterday. It would no longer be a place with 50,000 palm trees and 3,000 wells, where the pilgrims arrived, relieved at the end of their long journeys. From that day on, the oasis would be an empty place for her.

From that day on, it was the desert that would be important. She would look to it every day, and would try to guess which stars the boy was following in search of his treasure. She would have to send her kisses on the wind, hoping that the wind would touch the boy’s face, and would tell him that she was alive. That she was waiting for him, a woman awaiting a courageous man in search of his treasure.

From that day on, the desert would represent only one thing to her: the hope for his return.

~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, Page 121 – 123

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Political Side of Hunger

In Malaysia and the rest of affluent spots in the world, many of us suffer from overeating but in some parts of India, some children have to suffer through a painful procedure because their parents couldn’t afford to feed them.

Reading this and having those images, I saw back in Hyderabad a few years ago, flashing in front of my eyes, they just break my heart.

Timely, such horrific reality comes to my knowledge after PEMANDU released its ETP, which includes multibillion nuclear power plant, KL-SG rail system and supposedly to be great Greater KL Model.

Beneath such behemoth goals, I shudder at the thought of a few Malaysians having to go to sleep at night with an empty tummy.

Wenger - Always, Forever

"At a young age winning is not the most important thing... the important thing is to develop creative and skilled players with good confidence"

~ My Arsene Wenger

Wenger, my Arsene Wenger, was charged by the FA over improper conduct to one of the referees during 95th minute of Gunners' away game against Sunderland last weekend.

He's getting easily agitated for the past couple of years and I still think he's the coolest coach ever because his frustrations and angers are purely humane (thanks Ian Wright for his support to my Wenger) and logical (mana boleh kira goal lepas masa tambahan).

It doesn't matter if Gunners couldn't top the table, yet again, but to deny rights and hopes for fair play in any game is damning to any soul.

No matter what they say Mr Wenger, I'm with you, always, forever.

"The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn't angry enough" ~ Bede Jarrett

Maktub - Part 2

As the Englishman left, Fatima arrived and filled her vessel with water.

"I came to tell you just one thing", the boy said. "I want you to be my wife. I love you".

The girl dropped the container, and the water spilled.

"I'm going to wait here for you every day. I have crossed the desert in search of a treasure that is somewhere near the Pyramids, and for me, the war seemed a curse, But not it's a blessing, because it brought me to you".

"The war is going to end someday", the girl said.

The boy looked around at the date palms. He reminded himself that he had been a shepherd, and that he could be a shepherd again. Fatima was more important than his treasure.

"The tribesmen are always in search of treasure", the girl said, as if she had guessed what he was thinking. "And the women of the desert are proud of their tribesmen".

She refilled her vessel and left.


The People went back to where they were living, and the boy went to meet with Fatima that afternoon. He told her about the morning's meeting. "The day after we met", Fatima said, "you told me that you loved me. The you taught me something of the universal language and the Soul of the World. Because of that, I have become a part of you".

The boy listened to the sound of her voice, and thought it to be more beautiful than the sound of the wind in the date palms.

"I have been waiting for you here at this oasis for a long time. I have forgotten about my past, about my traditions, and the way in which men of the desert expect women to behave. Ever since I was a child, I have dreamed that the desert would bring me a wonderful present. Now, my present has arrived, and it's you".

"You have told me about your dreams, about the old king and your treasure. And you've told me about omens. So now, I fear nothing, because it was those omens that brought you to me. And I am a part of your dream, a part of your Personal Legend, as you call it".

"That's why I want you to continue toward your goal. If you have to wait until the war is over, then wait. But if you have to go before then, go on in pursuit of your dream. The dunes are changed by the wind, but the desert never changes. That's the way it will be with our love for each other".

"Maktub", she said. "If I am really a part of your dream, you'll come back one day".
~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, Page 96 - 97

Monday, September 20, 2010

Maktub - Part 1

Finally, a young woman approached who was not dressed in black. She had a vessel on her shoulder, and her head was covered by a veil, but her face was uncovered. The boy approached her to ask about the alchemist.

At that moment, it seemed to him that time stood still, and the Soul of the World surged within him. When he looked into her dark eyes, and saw that her lips were posed between a laugh and silence, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke - the Language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the deserts. Something exerted the same force whenever two pairs of eyes met as had theirs here at the well. She smiled, and that was certainly an omen - the omen he had been waiting, without even knowing he was, for all his life. The omen he had sought to find with his sheep and in his books, in the crystals and in the silence of the desert.

It was the pure Language of the World. It required no explanation, just as the universe needs none as it travels endless time. What the boy felt at that moment was that was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognised the same thing. He was more certain of it than of anything in the world. He had been told by his parents and grandparents that he must fall in love and really know a person before becoming committed. But maybe people who felt that way had never learned the universal language. Because, when you know that language, it's easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it's in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one's dreams would have no meaning.

"Maktub", thought the boy.

~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, Page 92 - 93

One Courageous Woman - Puan Sri Janaky Davar Athi Nahappan

"The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race"

~ Susan B. Anthony

Although I share a birth date (27 Feb that is) with the best Cleopatra on the Screen, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, I detest her too-weak persona portrayed in many of her movies. Thank God, such portrayal has metamorphosed into courageous Sally Field, Jodie Foster, Julia Roberts, Ashley Judd, Meg Ryan, Renee Zellwegger and Dakota Fanning. That's the beauty of Hollywood's Silver Screen, even their actresses show the mantel of courageous womanhood, which our Bolehwood has yet to see the glimpse of hope.

If we can't find such exemplary icons to move our generations towards true patriotism and humanity on our silver screen, it is time to see the real "Steel Magnolias" that this nation has borne.

One fine courageous Malaysian Woman is Puan Sri Janaky Devar Athi Nahappan - the wife to Tan Sri Athi Nahappan, who in June 1965, headed a "Royal Commission of Inquiry on Local Authorities". The said commission came out with eponymous Athi Nahappan Report - a 2 feet high-4 volume report, which is regarded as one the most comprehensive and erudite reports ever produced by our Government - which makes it qualified to sit in the Harvard Library as a basis for how local government should function.

Coincidentally, over a seminar I attended in mid August, it dawns on us how little power State Governments under PR have (Thanks to highly politicised federalisation and privatisation that even uncollected garbage at residential areas could provide substantial weight to shake a State Government) to being much-needed reforms that rightfully are our rights. There's a huge gap between what a State Government could and what is being carried out by our local councils. Such misconception on State Government and misrepresentation of local councils should be addressed urgently so that common people like you and me do not have to suffer on daily basis.

Here's a couple of articles (Aliran's 2000 article by Prof Johan Saravanamuttu and a comparative study by researchers from University of Glamorgan and UUM in 1998) on the importance of our Government implementing Athi Nahappan Report, by primarily to give the power back to elect to us, the Rakyat and to ensure every elected representative is accountable.

A few days before our 53rd Merdeka Day, she was interviewed by Noelle Lim for BFM 89.9's Merdeka Series. At her tender old age, reminiscing her life is one emotional journey and I was choked with tears listening to her talking about her parents, beloved husband (who untimely left her tending to their young family) and lost struggles of today's MIC for Indians in Malaysia.

I always believe that true women are not those who remember those praises but those struggles they have gone through and still remain grateful to the past and hopeful for the future.

May God Blesses Puan Sri Janaky and her beloved family. We are forever indebted to her and her husband for an iota of goodness we are currently enjoying in this nation.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Am A Thousand Winds...

Ramadhan and Syawal have been marked with many passing of our beloved ones so much so that whenever my parents are sound asleep, I would try to locate their breathing signs and I would attempt to wake them up. I don't think I have done and given enough to make them happy and please at their old age. Such thought makes me cringe at night - time is running short and I have so many things to say and do for them.

Today, as I was cooking extra special lunch for them - to celebrate their completion of Puasa Enam - I realise that we would never have enough opportunities if we think we only celebrate their love and care for us only on selected days and occasions. Mak and I had small talks about big things - about ihsan to others, about redha to God's blessings and ketentuan, about enliven those positive traits in our forefathers. Alhamdulillah, I share all of Mak's ideals and I think that would have make her happy to know that I would do what she would do to others when she is no longer around.

True love is about taking care of small things, cherishing the ordinary and living it big in our heart, always.

As our parents grow old, I have learned that we must treat them as tenderly as we could just like how they had treated us when we were small, fragile and scared. They need a little more reassurance and attention. They need us.

I wish to remember those who have passed on to the Other Side in every day's greatness God has granted us. May God blesses their souls and may they know they are forever be in our heart.

In loving memory of them, I would like to share Hayley Westenra's "I Am A Thousand Winds That Blow", based on a poem by Madam Mary Elizabeth Frye.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Shine Baby Shine!

This is the time
This is the day
That we've been waiting for
All the world will stop
To watch you shine

This is the time
This is the day
That we've been waiting for
All the world believes
That you will shine

Applying Sincerity, Patience & Kindness

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars"

Once, I took KTMB commuter back from KL to Sg Buloh, hoping I could catch the last bus back home, but it was 11.45 pm by the time I arrived at Sg Buloh and deep down I know I had to trouble my parents to fetch me from the station. It would take close to 30 minutes for my parents to arrive considering I just woke them up from sleep. So, as clock struck 12.00, I was the only passenger waiting. Wasn't I scared? I guess I prayed hard enough in the commuter that night, wishing for things to be easier for me and if I had to wake my parents up, I hope I won't have to listen to their 'lecture' all the way back (:D even at this age, I'm still their little girl) because I was attending a good event, where I finally met my long, lost friend of 18 years). As I looked around the station, I saw one Indonesian security guard walking towards me. I smiled and nodded my head to acknowledge his presence. He moved 10 feet away from me and asked if I was waiting for someone. I sensed that he was very careful not to scare me and I wasn't because he seemed to be a kind man. As I sat on the bench waiting, I made several turns towards him, as if looking for my guardian angel. That night he was my angel and as I saw my parents' car approaching, I bowed to him and thanked him. He's a total stranger to me but I was deeply touched by his sincerity in doing his job, his patience and kindness looking out for me. Before I went to sleep that night, I prayed for his well being and I thank God for him. How I wish we all would exercise our sincerity in every thing we do and extend our patience and kindness to all God's creations. If we all could see a mother in every woman, a father and a brother in every man, a daughter and a son in every child, I am sure we would not live in fear, depending on others to protect our sanity and sanctity as we will all care for each other.

But do we practice sincerity, patience and kindness only on personal front? I believe, no matter how technical and factual, we deal and depend on people to get things done. As much as we want to exercise our power and position to protect our interest, we should be sincere in discharging our responsibilities, patient enough to listen and understand what others have to say and kind enough to do the extra miles in getting the job done.

Still, in most occasions, most people would only apply those three traits with those with our vested interests while some lamented why they continue to be treated badly by others? Eckhart Tolle, in his book, "Power of Now" explains why we normally attract the same experience we have having inside our mind and our heart. with people we met. It is natural that we would make someone angry when we ourselves are angry because our subconscious mind could detect each other's emotion and start expressing it. So, for us to expect others to treat us in a way we desire, we first have to instill that particular emotion before it would be translated into our desirable action in us and others. Thus, it is not shocking to see why, after 53 years of gaining Independence, some of us continue to identify each other as enemies and even if we have achieved the desired equality, this disparaging problem would persist for the next 53 years unless we take firm steps towards equitability.

Today, PKR, one of the parties under Pakatan Rakyat, has started its direct election process - the first in our political party history. Reading various comments from many quarters who have expressed their intention to run for party's position, I cannot help but feeling a little sad because they are some who continue to feel insecured (and they would only feel good when getting a top post). Insecurity and doubt are men's best enemies as they would wreck one's conscience. Instead of insecured leaders, we need people's representatives who are sincere to work for the party and are brave enough to do things right, instead of doing what is considered norm in UMNO and its affiliated parties.

God knows best and if loss is destined, no matter how hard we tried, I hope we would remain resilient and productive to the party. This stark possibility reminds me of one poignant scene in "Ayat-Ayat Cinta", which I hope would comfort those who didn't make the cut.

After receiving his expulsion letter from Al-Azhar University, Fahri sobbed violently, unable to accept the fact because he had dedicated his life to study at this prominent university and now, he is being imprisoned after Noura accused him of raping her.

His cellmate laughs at him for he said that Fahri is too proud and thinks he is too good, having houlier-than-thou attitude that Fahri couldn’t see that God is actually conversing with him during this difficult time, teaching him about sincerity and patience.

His cellmate later relates a prayer of Nabi Yusuf, who was imprisoned after the beautiful Zulaikha, the wife of Egyptian aristocrat, accused him of trying to rape her.

He said:"O my Lord! Prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them and be one (of those who commit sin and deserve blame or those who do deeds) of the ignorants. So his Lord answered his invocation and turned away from him their plot. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. Then it appeared to them, after they had seen the proofs (of his innocence) to imprison him for a time" (Yusof, Verses 33 – 35)

There are times when we would be tested, to a point we would question God but all is not lost for God knows what is best for us and He would only make us endure such experience because He knows we can handle it. I believe things will materialise when we are sincere, patient and kind enough.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Science of Ambition

Th clock struck 3 am when we bid each other goodnight. Yes, Chu and me just had our pillow talk over the weekend, a long and inspiring one that it defied the fact that we were too full (thanks to barbecue party we had that night) and too tired (it's normal we turn ourselves into Cinde(suka)rella cleaning up the mess).

Chu, the proud mother of my Little Women of Penang, shared with me what makes her who she is today, that is having sheer determination and right influence (my Mak and her mostly Chinese friends).

What a coincidence that I came across TIME's "Science of Ambition" a week before I left for my Raya Holiday. Ambition is energy and determination, which make ambitious people persistent lots. The studies show that though energy could be genetically imprinted, some just need the right impetus to kickstart the 'generator'. This not only further proven the idea that success can be nurtured through excellence in sports and sportsmanship and that possessing good health (mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually) is an asset to a nation.

As the researches done highlight the difference of competitiveness between men and women, it is ever so important to have the right balance of power being distributed between men and women to ensure that long term benefits of a competition (which women are genetically good in) would complement men's short term goals in any institution.

This article sheds some important points, which could explain why different races, generally, have different level of ambition. It mentions that two of the biggest influences on our level of ambition are the family that produced you and the culture that produced your family. Parents who set tough but realistic challenges, applaud successes and go easy on failures produce kids with the greatest self-confidence. Isn't that explain why prominent and successful parents do not necessarily bring up ambitious, confident kids?

The importance of ambition isn't all, after all, about gaining wealth and being powerful. By pushing more people into the bracket of upper middle income, we not only are producing successful society that could fend itself, we would, above all, turning them into the most powerful tool in making this world a better place, by having more inventors, revolutionists, thinkers, and many more.

But, is ambition a bad word that some people could be so determined to plunder and make blunders? Perhaps, that could be defined as greed. For me, ambition is a sacred word because it needs determination, tenacity and patience.

May we all be ambitious enough in every single thing we do.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Salam Lebaran Dari Kota Tinggi

"Talk about miles, We are far apart; Talk about heart, we are close together"

For most ladies, a week before and after 1 Lebaran is always the most tiring - physically and emotionally - as we are expected to be Superwomen and women at the same time. Nonetheless, such weird juxtaposition does not make us mad for every task is an Ibadah and every Ibadah gives us a sense of purpose - that for me, is the basis of humanity and charity.

Come this Lebaran, may we find compassion deep in our pocket , on our table and in our kitchen to share what we have with the less fortunates so that they too would enjoin us to celebrate this meaningful day.

Come this Syawal, may we find time to get in touch and personal with all aging relatives we have for they are the mirrors to every great things we still remember about our loved ones, who have long gone. May we find time to cherish our loved ones for life is too short, this could be our or their last Syawal.

May we find grace in every action and every heart.

May we seek forgiveness from everyone (and ourselves because most of time, we are the ones that caused all the troubles we face today).

Wishing you all a warm and wonderful Raya with your beloved family and loved ones. Maaf Zahir Batin.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mission Ramadhan 30 - Syawal

"Syawal: The Dos" By Mufti Taqi Usmani

Beginning of the Ashur-ul-Hajj

Shawwal is the first of the three months named as "Ashhur al-Hajj" (i.e. the months of Hajj). Although the major acts of Hajj are normally performed in the first ten days of Zulhijjah, yet the whole period starting from the first of Shawwal up to the 10th of Zulhijjah is held to be the period of Hajj because some acts of Hajj can be performed any time during this period. For example, the Tawaf-ul-qudum, followed by the Sai' of Hajj cannot be performed before Shawwal, while it can be performed any day after the beginning of Shawwal. Similarly, an 'Umrah performed before Shawwal cannot be treated as the 'Umrah of Tamattu: while the 'Umrah performed in Shawwal can be affiliated to the Hajj, making it a Hajj of Tamattu: Moreover, ihram of Hajj should not be started before Shawwal, because it makruh. For these reasons these three months have been named as the 'months of Hajj' and the month of Shawwal has the distinction of being the first of these.


The second meritorious aspect of Shawwal is that it has been chosen by Allah Almighty for the celebration of "Eid-ul-fitr", one of the only two annual festivals recognized by the Shari'ah. This happy day is designed by the Shari'ah as a sign of gratefulness by the Muslims on the accomplishment of Ramadan, and as an immediate reward by Allah for those who spent the month of Ramadan in fasting and performing other forms of 'ibadah.

Instead of commemorating an event from the past, the Shari'ah has prescribed the first of Shawwal as an annual festival for the Muslims at an occasion when they themselves accomplish a great 'ibadah. This approach reminds the Muslims that they should not rely only on the accomplishments of their ancestors, rather, they should themselves perform meritorious acts to please their Creator.

In prescribing the ways to celebrate the happy day, Islam has adopted another unique approach. The festivals of other religions or nations normally comprise of some acts of rejoicing and enjoyment. The whole happy day is normally spent in dancing, singing and playing.

In contrast, Islam has prescribed a simple yet graceful way to observe the happy day. First of all, it is mandatory on all the well-off Muslims to start their day by paying "Sadaqat-ul-fitr" to the poor of their society, so that they, too, may enjoy the day along with others, and may not be worried for earning their livelihood at least on that day of happiness.

After paying the "Sadaqat-ul-fitr", the Muslims are required to proceed to an open place where they can offer the Eid prayer collectively. In this way, they are supposed to present themselves before their Creator and offer two rak'ats of this special type of Salah, which makes them receive blessings from Allah and start their celebration by these divine blessings.

After the Salah also, they are supposed to rejoice the day in a responsible manner, without violating the limits prescribed for them and never indulging in the acts prohibited by Allah.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mission Ramadhan 29 - Got A Minute?

"Got a Minute?" By Kalim Farooqi

A Great opportunity while we are still alive is to plan and act for tomorrow; invest one minute of your daily supply of 1440 minutes and reap benefit which no business can offer. Invest 15 minutes and multiply the rewards. We all know that Allah's promise is absolute truth and we should seek it and act according to His guidance. I am sharing this to promote Allah's consciousness and Love to serve Islam in the best way possible and benefit Insha-Allah in both Worlds.

In one minute you can say Surat Al Fatiha 7 times. The reward for each reading of the Surah: 1420 good deeds! This is on the basis that there are 142 letters in the Surah, with each letter getting you 10 good deeds. So after doing a simple calculation, 7 readings will get you 9940 deeds.

In one minute you can say: "Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah, wahdahuLaa Shareeka Lah, Lahul Mulk Walahul Hamd, Wa Huwa 'Ala Kulli Shay'in Qadeer" 20 times. There is no god worthy of worship but Allah, alone, without any partners. For Him is all Dominion and Praise, and He has control over everything. Each saying is equal to the deed of freeing 8 slaves.

In one minute you can say "Subhaanallahu wa bi Hamdihi" 100 times. (All praise and glory is due to Allah) Whoever says this everyday will have his/her sins forgiven.

But we should also remember that the best of deeds are those that are maintained on a regular basis.

In one minute you can say "Subhaanallahu wa bi Hamdihi, Subhaanallahu Al 'Azeem" 50 times. (All Praise and Glory is due to Allah, All Praise is due to Allah the Almighty).

These are "a couple of phrases, light on the tongue, heavy on the scales (on the Day of Judgement), beloved to the All Merciful (Allah)". (Agreed upon)

In one minute you can say "Subhaanallah, wa Al Hamdu Lil'lah, wa Laa Ilaaha Illallah, wa Allahu Akbar" 18 times (All Praise is due to Allah, and All Glory is due to Allah, and there is no god but Allah, and Allah is the Greatest). These are the most beloved words to Allah and his Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam that the sun has ever risen upon.

In one minute you can say "Laa Ilaaha Illallah" approximately 50 times There is no true god worthy of worship, except Allah). Remember that these are the words of true Islamic Monotheism --- and act accordingly.

In one minute you can say "Laa Hawla wa Laa Kuwata Illa bi'llah" over 40 times. (There is no Power and Might except by Allah) This sentence is one of the treasures of Paradise.

In one minute you can say "Salla-Allahu alayhi wa sallam" Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam 50 times. (Sending peace and blessings upon the Prophet) In return you get 500 blessings from Allah, as each darood you make to His Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam 10 blessings are returned to you!

In one minute you can contact your family and friends, and increase the bond between you and them.

In one minute you can raise your hands to Allah and supplicate with any good words you wish.

In one minute you can advise or compliment your brother/sister in Islam.

In one minute you can greet any brothers in Islam, smile, shake hands and have a few good words with them.

In one minute you can remove anything harmful that may be laying on the street.

In one minute you can give a few words of comfort to a brother/sister who is concerned and sad for any reason

In one minute you can read two pages of a useful book.

An important note in conclusion: In order to take advantage of the phenomenal rewards outlined above we must maintain within our heart sincerity to Allah. We must understand and genuinely wish for what we are saying and doing. We also know that the best of deeds are those that are maintained on a regular basis. Also we need to remember that best deeds are those deeds that Allah made mandatory for us.

So do you have a minute or more for the smart investment?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mission Ramadhan 28 - The Importance of Solat

"What Good is Salat?" By Khalid Baig

In one of his circulars Sayyidna Umar ibn Khattab, Radi-Allahu anhu, sent instructions to all his administrators saying, "In my opinion, salat (Islam's prescribed act of worship or prayer. The word prayer, though, is also used for supplication or dua and is therefore avoided in this article.) is the most important of your obligations. Whoever takes good care of it and safeguards it safeguards his religion and whoever neglects it will neglect other things even more." He then added instructions about the times for the five salats and admonition against dozing off before Isha. [Muwatta Imam Malik. Hadith No. 5]

This letter from the ruler of a vast empire to the officials of his government --- shall we call it Executive Order? --- gives us a lot to reflect upon. For salat is among the most emphasized commands in Shariah. Unfortunately it is also a grossly neglected obligation in our life today.

Even a Muslim school child knows that salat is a pillar of Islam. What Sayyidna Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, expressed was that it is true at all levels and in all settings, from the private to the public. One cannot build an Islamic life, an Islamic community, an Islamic institution, or an Islamic government while neglecting or weakening this pillar. It is a measure of its extraordinary status that unlike all other obligations the command for salat was given by Allah Most High to Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam during his miraculous Ascent to Heaven or Meraj. Very fittingly so, for salat is the meraj of the believer. One begins the salat by standing while facing the Ka'ba or the House of Allah, isolating himself from the worldly affairs, and then addressing Allah directly: "Oh Allah, You are sanctified and (I begin) with Your praise. Your name is Blessed and Your Greatness is Supreme. And no one else is worthy of worship except You." During salat a believer repeatedly stands, bows, and prostates to Allah. Each of these acts brings him closer and closer to his Master and Creator filling him with the feelings of love, devotion, and obedience. The sitting position even includes the re-creation of the conversation that took place between the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and Allah during the Heavenly Ascent.

As people run out of excuses they sometimes try rationalizations. What good is salat if one's mind wanders all over the place? Well our job is to try to concentrate not to achieve concentration. We are doing our job if we are simply making the effort. What good is salat if one is still involved in other sins, like the proverbial person who steals and prays? The simple answer is that our lives are combinations of good and evil. Our goal is to increase the good and reduce or eliminate the evil. And that won't happen by putting the good on hold until we can get rid of the evil. It may also be helpful to remember that the greatest theft is that of salat itself.

p.s. When I wrote "Unit Amal PAS - My Heroes", I wanted to elaborate further son why there is such vast differences between my heroes and those of PEKIDA, PERKASA, UMNO and everything yang sewaktu dengannya. One of many stark contrasts, that makes Unit Amal PAS appealing to everyone - regardless of race, religion and creed - is that their Solat Jemaah, based on the abovementioned book I came across last year.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ayat-Ayat Cinta

I hardly watch Telly but for obvious reasons known to me, I managed to catch the second half of Indonesian movie "Ayat-Ayat Cinta"("The Verses of Love"), 2 years after Lisa told me about this beautiful story back in The Little Red Dot.

It's a love story - a sad one that would tug your heart strings and crack open your tear gate.s But it's also not an ordinary love story because it portrays what real love is and brings me back to Kahlil Gibran's "Love" - the kind of love that will survive this imperfect world.

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Mission Ramadhan 27 - Zakat

"Zakat" By Khalid Baig

Charity itself has been a cherished institution in all human societies. It remains so even in the capitalistic society. But without a strong belief in Allah and the Hereafter, a charitable act can only be motivated by a desire for fame or some other worldly reward. Human beings are driven by rewards. The only truly selfless act is one in which the reward is sought from Allah instead of other human beings. And that is the change in orientation that Islam provides and that remains its most distinguishing feature. Once a goat was slaughtered in the Prophet's household and its meat was distributed. Later on the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, asked Aisha, Radi-Allahu unha, what was saved from the goat? "Nothing but a shank," she said. "Everything but the shank," said the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. For what was given away in charity was truly saved for the hereafter.

There are other distinct features of Islam's system of Zakat. The Qur'an mentions where it can be used.


"The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and for those employed in connection therewith, and for those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and for the freeing of slaves, and for those in debt, and for the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarer." [Al-Tauba 9:60].

Zakat, on the other hand, cannot be used to maintain mosques or support the scholars. Neither can it be used to support the normal functioning of the government. No one can change its rate, sources, or application, which are all pre-determined by the Qur'an and Sunnah. All these distinguish Zakat as an act of worship rather than a tax and have been responsible for keeping the system mostly free of corruption, even at a time when some Muslim countries have generally fallen victim to the corruption epidemic. Yet the problem is that a very large number of those who should be paying Zakat are careless about their responsibility.

To be sure, a Muslim has financial obligations other than Zakat (to support mosques, schools, and other community projects on an as needed basis), but Zakat itself remains the most potent system for addressing the economic problems of the Ummah. With 2.5% of the savings of the rich people throughout the Ummah going to its poor people every year, the basic needs of everyone could be satisfied. In fact if used properly, it could put IMF, the World Bank, and other shylocks who have been enriching themselves at the expense of the poor out of business in the Muslim countries.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mission Ramadhan 26 - Justice

Under normal circumstances many people can be just. But Islam commands its followers to be just even in the face of strong conflicting emotions. In dealing with other human beings, two major impediments to justice are love and hatred. See how the Qur'an teaches us to overcome the first impediment when we are dealing with our closest relatives or even ourselves. "O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do." [An-Nisa 4:135]

Here is the resolution from the Qur'an of the perennial conflict between self-interest and justice. Be just, even if it is against your narrowly defined self-interest or of those very close to you. Ignorant people think they are protecting their self-interest by being unjust to others. Their decision to be just or unjust may be based on a cold calculation of self-interest. But real faith in Allah elevates one beyond that narrow-mindedness. These verses remind us that the real protector of interests of all people is also Allah and He will protect us when we follow His command to be just. The justice demanded by Islam permits no favoritism.

The other equally potent impediment is hatred. Here again Qur'an commands: "O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do." [Al-Maidah 5:8]

In other words you cannot do injustice even when you are dealing with the enemy. The natural, uneducated, and uncivilized tendency is to treat the enemy as less than a human being; one who has no rights and deserves no justice or fairness. It was as true in the pre-Islamic tribal jahilya (based on ignorance) society as it is today. See how Islam directly curbs it. It is a command to the believers, with a reminder that Allah is watching you, that enmity of others cannot be used as an excuse for committing injustices against them.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gaga over Lula's

I think we could gauge the greatness of a nation from its sports performance. First stop, look at Lula's country - one of BRIC - the powerhouses of the future!

If you read TIME's "Brazil Start-Up Generation", you'd be surprised that it invests 1% of its GDP in R&D (in its goal to push the country's exports up the value chain by focusing on developing world-class high-tech industries in a variety of sectors — from aerospace, agribusiness and energy to information technology, business-process outsourcing, semiconductors and telecommunications), leading the nation towards entrepreneurship, making every 15 out of its 100 residents involved in a start-up and putting more than 50% of its 190 million citizens in middle class bracket.

So, what makes Brazil so hot in the eyes of investors considering its onerous taxation and regulations, archaic labour laws, dysfuctional education system, squalid political system and endemic corruption?

How could such huge stumbling blocks could produce high employment rates, successive increases in the minimum wage in addition to a nationwide assistance program that has given billions of dollars to the poor, has helped keep Brazil's domestic demand strong?

If you read TIME's "Postcard from Sao Paulo", you'd see that even in 'rumah setinggan' areas, people can earn a decent living.

So, what's so special about Brazil that we can't be as good?

Perhaps, all we need is a smart politician like Lula - dubbed one of the most intelligent politicians in the world - who believes in doing what is right by reducing poverty and inequality.

Perhaps, lackluster of our nation isn't about us being lazy, stupid and weak. It boils down to our indifference to accept people with weak political will to rule our nation.

Again, as I said before, "politics matters"!

So, the vote is in our hand - who would you vote in the next GE to bring back this nation to where it used to be?

The Importance of Writing & Reading

"The place of stillness that you have to go to to write, but also to read seriously, is the point where you can actually make responsible decisions, where you can actually engage productively with an otherwise scary and unmanageable world"
~ Jonathan Franzen in TIME's 23 Aug 2010 "
Great American Novelist".

Mission Ramadhan 25 - Enjoining What Is Right

"Amr-bil-Maroof" By Khalid Baig

It is the most common activity in all social settings. Sometimes it is explicit: we argue for or against something. At others it is implicit: we show interest or lack of interest. More often than we realize we are engaged in persuading others or are being persuaded by them about big and small things in life. It is a very powerful force also. That is why marketers yearn for word of mouth publicity and powerful media machines long for becoming the talk of the town.

Concerned with good as it is, Islam gives this tremendous social force a purpose. It must be used for promoting good, truth and justice and checking evil and injustice. That is the essence of amr-bil-maroof-wa-nahi-anil-munkar. And Qur'an declares it as the defining mission for this ummah:


"You are the best community that has been raised for mankind. You enjoin good and forbid evil and you believe in Allah." [Aal-e-Imran, 3:110].

At another place Qur'an declares promoting good as an attribute of believers and promoting evil as an attribute of hypocrites:


"The believers, men and women, are protectors of each other: they enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil."[Tauba, 9:71]

On the other hand,


"The hypocrites, both men and women, proceed one from another. They enjoin the wrong and forbid the right..."[Tauba, 9:67]

The implications are clear. It is not that a believer will never commit a mistake or be involved in evil. Only that he will never insist on it, justify it, or promote it. He may fail to do some required good. But he will never be a force opposing it. In the Islamic society sin is a private weakness, not a public cause. It is for this reason that repentance for a public sin must also be made in public while we must repent privately for our private sins. A public sin may have encouraged others to do the same. A public repentance will counter that.

Its definition of good and evil is not subject to the whims and desires of every generation or the perceived interests of a nation-state either. They are permanent concepts as defined in its unalterable sources: Qur'an and Sunnah. In a world of moral relativism these permanent values are the hope for the whole mankind. To keep these alive in the society we need the institution of amr-bil-maroof.

Mission Ramadhan 24 - Of Youths

If the life of this world is an illusion, the period of greatest illusion occurs during youth. It is a period of high energy and great enthusiasm, coupled with an air of invincibility and perpetuity. Like the driver of a fast car, one may also develop a disdain for the slower cars on the highway of life. It is difficult to imagine that the car will run out of fuel and that one day the engine will wear out.

For the moment though the car is fast and it can go places! A fast car is dangerous if it does not have strong controls. And that is where Shaitan targets the vulnerable --- by loosening the controls.

'Generation gap' is a clever term that aims at giving scientific respectability to rudeness and rebellion. The idea is to create a wedge between generations and make it look acceptable for a young person to be indifferent to any wise counsel from one's close and well-wishing elders. Which reminds us of the special challenge faced by the youth today.

Mission Ramadhan 23 - More Than Bad Rulers and Corrupt Societies

"Analysis : More than Bad Rulers and Corrupt Societies" By Khalid Baig

When British journalist Robert Fisk said that in the face of disaster Arabs act like mice, he was being polite. He could have said that the Muslims act like mice. The question is why?

It is easy and customary to blame the current Muslim rulers for this sorry situation. No doubt the Iraq invasion would not have been possible without their acquiescence and support. If they refused to open their lands, waterways, and airspace to the invasion, it could not have taken place. Neither would the slaughters in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosova, Kashmir, Chechnya, and Palestine have been possible if the Muslim rulers had their act together. But was it only because the Muslim rulers happened to be immoral, coward, and unscrupulous characters? Is the 1.2 billion strong Ummah suffering only because there are fifty-four corrupt persons who are ruling it?

These rulers do not carry out all their plans personally. They have armies of compliant soldiers, bureaucrats, and other staffers at every level of government that do the dirty work. Further the societies at large produce, nurture, and sustain the corrupt machinery of the corrupt governments. As we continue our investigation, we find that our problem is corruption; not only of the rulers but also of the ruled. Today we have strayed from the Shariah in our personal lives; we lie, cheat, steal at a higher rate than ever before; we exploit and oppress in our small spheres. In short, our problems are caused by our moral corruption.