Friday, November 25, 2011

on discrimination and stereotyping

Today in Organizational Behaviour we learnt about

Discrimination & Exclusion

The difference: Discrimination is more obvious and overt, where you target a group because they are different from you.
e.g: "I am firing you because you are dyslexic."

However, racism/other -isms are now socially unacceptable (at least in the UK). So people resort to Exclusion, which is more subtle and hidden, but nevertheless shows that you dislike a certain group.
e.g: being unfriendly to another race, trying to get as far away as possible from 'that brown dude', etc.

I remembered this one time, we were searching for a house, and the landlady was doing this

And one of the reasons why we discriminate and exclude is stereotyping. We generalise people and put judgments on them, even before we meet them. 

So today i'd like to say something about stereotyping people who do D&T.

During the time of the Prophet, the Quraisy used to spread all kinds of propaganda to prevent people from listening to the call of Rasulullah.
"He's doing witchcraft. He's bewitching all of us to leave our stone idols."
"He's a poet. That's why he recites all these beautiful verses."
"He's crazy".
"He's a traitor who's trying to split the unity of us Arabs."

There was a man called At-Tufail ibn 'Amr. The Quraisy used to tell him all sorts of propaganda, until he stuffed his ears with cotton to block out the message of the Prophet.

But Allah guides whom He wills. One day, at-Tufail happened to meet the Prophet, cottons still in his ears. But you know, with cottons stuffed in your ear, you still hear something. And what at-Tufail heard was the most beautiful thing. The truth. The Quran. And experiencing the truth first hand, the propaganda of the Quraisy melted away, and at-Tufail became a guided Believer.

These things will still happen until the Day of Judgment.

"D&T people? I heard they're very closed-minded, have messy beards and have serious faces all the time. And they smell too. If i were you, i wouldn't get too close to them"

There sure are a lot of stereotypes, and im sure you've heard some of them. Not only negative stereotypes, but positive stereotypes as well. In fact, people sometimes expect D&T-ists to be perfect.

"You don't cut your nails! im not going to listen to you."
"You don't comb your hair! Bye bye"

وَقَالُوا مَالِ هَذَا الرَّسُولِ يَأْكُلُ الطَّعَامَ وَيَمْشِي فِي الْأَسْوَاقِ لَوْلَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مَلَكٌ فَيَكُونَ مَعَهُ نَذِيرًا
And they say: "Why does this Messenger eat food, and walk about in the markets (like ourselves). Why is not an angel sent down to him to be a warner with him? (Al Furqan:7)

DISCLAIMER: I am not asking you to stay just the way you are. Indeed, a believer should improve himself every day. This is a reminder to all of us to hold on to the truth, wherever it may come from. 

So pull that cotton wool out of your ear and go find some good ol' soul-nourishing and some good company.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

on international solidarity

These past few days, the Intelligence Bureau at Reflective Perspectives (with only one staff member -.-) has been picking up almost similar snapshots of the public mood..yes, this intelligence source is none other than Facebook:

"congratz malaysia!!"

"see, indonesia can't play!"

which sometimes degrades into..

"indonesians are dishonest"

"indonesians are creating a facebook page to condemn malaysians.."

"..please, don't respond to these provocations, this is a conspiracy to split muslims."

I'd like to give a gold star to that last commenter.

At the beginning of the 20th century, old empires started to crumble and lose their power. These were vast empires with control over huge territory, like the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Prussian Empire. Another important characteristic of these empires was that they ruled over a multi-ethnic society.

For example, the Ottoman Empire didn't just consist of Turks. There were Arabs, Greeks, Kurds, Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians, and so on.

For the empires of Islam, what binded all of inhabitants together was islamic brotherhood, eventhough there was sometimes fighting amongst the rulers. This was what enabled to Ibn Battuta to travel far and wide throughout Dar-ul-Islam, the Muslim Lands.

But towards the end, islam and islamic principles no longer took centre stage in people's hearts. So people began to have a feeling that you're only my brother if you have my skin colour and speak my language.

Add that to a whole lot of other reasons, and the empires began to crumble into small nation states. So now there was Syria for Syrians, Turkey for Turks, and so on.

This happened throughout the muslim lands.

And there was Malaysia for Malaysians and Indonesia for Indonesians. There was a lot of nationalist sentiment all around. soulless nasionalism.

That things could degrade to such a level is a shame. Take the malay archipelago, for example. When Malacca was invaded by the Portuguese, the islamic Sultanate of Aceh and the Sultanate of Demak in Java tried to repel the invaders. Aceh and Java are in present-day Indonesia.

There is even a malay proverb,

"Kalau roboh Kota Melaka,
papan di Jawa kami tegakkan."
(If the city of Melaka crumbles, we will build a new one in Java)

International islamic solidarity.

'Umar ra had it right when he said,
"We were a humiliated people, and Allah gave us honour through islam. If we tried to seek honour through other ways, Allah would humiliate us again."

Allah also says in the Quran;

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

"The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islâmic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allâh, that you may receive mercy." (Al Hujurat:10)

The history i present to you today is simplified, to know more there are lots of good books to read. But the main thing is,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

on the market for excuses

Today in accounting class i learnt an interesting term.

"The Market for Excuses"

WARNING: Accounting terminology coming up.
Accountants can choose different methods for accounting. So they say 'Method A' is good or 'Method B' is good, and come up with reasons. But sometimes they may say this method is good for the public interest, when actually they have underlying private interests. "Prawn behind the rock".

e.g. A company lobbies the government for lower tax. They give the reason that lower taxes encourage businesses and is good for the economy (public interest). But actually they want lower taxes to have more profits in the income statement, and the manager gets a fat bonus (private interest).

This is the market for excuses. Saying something noble as an excuse to do something selfish.

And as always in Reflective Perspectives, we do it the other way round. accounting class/daily life is just an excuse to talk about the big things:

There is a HUGE market for excuses nowadays. People give noble excuses for doing err, not-so-noble things:

"Why do i smoke? well i'm trying to help the malaysian economy you know."

"Eh, its my freedom lah, to wear hijab or not. La ikraha fi al-din you know (no compulsion in religion).

"I thank God for giving me this Most Vogue Artist Award. God likes beautiful things you know."

We should be careful about the market for excuses, because it afflicts nearly everyone. Ever had that feeling that you really really want to do something, but its not really proper? And then to make it 'legal' you try and find ayat from the Qur'an, from hadeeth, anything that would support your wishes. If someone 'religious' says,

"Owh, its okay to do that. I also do that."

You say

"Yay!! Finally *big grin*"

"awww, you're such a boring person. Ni tak boleh. Tu tak boleh. (this can't. that can't)"
Well im not saying we can't do anything. Just be careful not to let God's commands follow your desires. Let your desires follow God's commands.

Allah says,

وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ بَعْدَ الَّذِي جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ مَا لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ

"..And if you were to follow their (Jews and Christians) desires after what you have received of Knowledge, then you would have against Allâh neither any Walî (protector or guardian) nor any helper." (Al Baqarah:120)

So be true to ourselves. Are we doing things for our own pleasure, or to gain the pleasure of Allah, Most High. We can give any amount of excuses, but Allah knows what is in every heart.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

on lost paradise

Friday, November 18, 2011

on inner peace

This life is a prison.

There's this one scene in Malcolm X, where another inmate says to Malcolm while they were in prison:

"Everywhere you go, you're in prison. Because its a prison of your mind."

We can't do as we like, when we like, however we like. 

But as Ibn Taymiyyah said,

"what can my enemies to do me? My paradise is in my heart and it goes with me wherever I go. If they imprison me, it is private devotion with my Lord. If they kill me, it is dying for the sake of my Lord. If they drive me out of my land, it is making hijra for the sake of my Lord." 

I do not know who you are while you are reading this. I do not know where you were born, who your family is, what your inner beliefs are. But i do know that to be have problems is to be human. 

You might be stressed preparing for exams. You may have received a call saying "im sorry, he's..gone" You may be feeling inferior, all this while you're the top scorer, now you feel like you've achieved nothing.

On a loftier scale, you might be feeling really worried about the state of the ummah, and stressed because of your lack of efforts in helping.

You might be suffering under oppressive regimes. You might be worried because you just read Harian Metro this morning and thought "things are getting worse..what if this happened to my family?"

Be patient.

الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ

"Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving" (Al Mulk:2)

This life is just a test, to see which of us are the best in deed. Be patient enduring this prison. Because paradise is in our hearts, we are just waiting for the Day when Allah says

يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ارْجِعِي إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَرْضِيَّةً فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي وَادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي

(It will be said to the pious): "O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, And enter you My Paradise!"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

on the priceless ones

Broken blackberry = £30/month X 24 months

Argan oil spilt on Khalil's papers = a few pounds

hungry. 1 piece chicken + chips = £1

friends-in-faith = priceless

self-improving advice = priceless

Iman = priceless

Some things money can buy. But for everything, there's Allah.

Monday, November 14, 2011

on how to mould brilliance

I want to change the world.

If i don't do that please shoot me.

Or don't shoot me. Don't want to die doing nothing.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

on being as pure as a newborn

This is a sequel to the previous post on change.

Rasulullah SAW said in a famous hadeeth:

مَا مِنْ مَوُلُودٍ إِلاَّ يُوْلَدُ عَلىَ الْفِطْرَةِ، فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ

"There is not a child except he is born on fitrah (the natural state, i.e being submissive to Allah). Therefore his parents will make him a Christian, a Jew or a Magian (Majusi)" (HR Bukhari)

Every human being is born in a natural state, the fitrah. It is natural for humans to want good things. For example, take a robber. What if he were robbed?

"#@#*^$&!! Lu berani rompak gua?!! Mati lu nanti!!"
"#@#(((*:-)!! You dare rob me?? You'll pay for this!!"

So even the robber hates it if he is affected by the evil.

Another one of our fitrah is to recognise a Supreme Being who created the world, is all-powerful and has power over all our daily affairs.

You could see this in Youtube. Malaysian artists, eventhough they may not follow the commands of God completely (like wearing hijab), what will they say if they receive an award?

"ALHAMDULILLAH i received this award, i didn't expect it" *while wiping away tears*

Even Lenin, the leader of the first Communist state, said on his deathbed

"Oh God, i am in pain" (citation needed)

قُلْ لِمَنِ الْأَرْضُ وَمَنْ فِيهَا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّهِ قُلْ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

"Say, [O Muhammad], To whom belongs the earth and whoever is in it, if you should know? They will say, To Allah . Say, Then will you not remember?" (Al Mu'minuun: 84-85)

So everyone, in their hearts, recognizes that natural state.

A friend of mine illustrated this beautifully. No matter what religion you are, you will always go to places like this

to get some peace of mind. Because these places are the creation of the Supreme Being, its all natural and magnificent, unlike our man-made structures.

My dad also gave a good analogy regarding asking people to return to their fitrah.

Let's say that someone shows you the shirt that you wore when you were in kindergarten. A Kikilala tshirt, for example.

"Abang, this is your tshirt."

"No its not, it's too small to be mine."

"But this is yours, see? Even has your name on it. See this spot over here. That's when you played in the rain and fell down in a muddy pool. See this little hole. You were riding on your bike but fell down, you came to us crying, but we made you some Milo and then you were alright."

It is our shirt. In the process of 'growing up', we might have forgotten about it, we might think that we're 'too big, too mature' for it, we might have 'moved on'.

But it is our shirt, nevertheless. 

Let us go back to our fitrah. Pure and simple.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

on mission:possible

Yesterday a friend of mine posted this status on facebook. Nowadays, after Syaikh Google, The Kitab of Facebook is where people get their wisdom.

"Umar Al-Khattab berubah, Saidina Hamzah berubah, Wardina Safiyah berubah, Amer munawer berubah, Ruffedge, VE, bob lokman semua pun berubah. Kalau diorang boleh berubah, kenapa tidak kita?


"Umar al-Khattab changed, Sayyidina Hamzah changed, Wardina Safiyyah changed, Amer Munawer changed, Ruffedge, VE, Bob Lokman, all of them changed. If they could change, why not us?"

Nice question.
Why not us? Change, as they say, is the only constant.
Umar al Khattab was a feared and brutal man before he changed, but after changing, he could cry just from listening to verses of the Qur'an.
How did the author change? Ever heard "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach?" It started with physical nourishment, it changed to mental spiritual nourishment.
Its strange how people fear change. I've heard some of my friends say
"Did you hear about this guy? After he flew to the UK/egypt/america/etc, he became really alim. He's a good guy now."
Everyone, in their heart of hearts, wants to be good. Its just that they don't know how.
So i'll let you in on a little secret, one that helped me:
Step 1: Pray to Allah for guidance.
Step 2: Find the good guys. And learn from them.
Step 3: I'll post it on this blog if i remember.
Have a lecture to catch now. Salaam.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

on blaming everything else, not me

Salaams all.

I frequently hear this statement from some of my friends and family.

"It's fated. It was my fate to be this way. Nothing could help me."

"Alah, what to do. Ayam patuk itik sudu." (my dad likes this rhyme)

"I was born osem."

Erkkk to the last one. -.-

Could we do nothing to change the situation we're in? are we so hopeless that we just surrender without trying and say 'i've done my best?'

Could we just watch as our brothers and sisters endure this?

And this?

And this?

Allah says,

...إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ
"..Verily! Allâh will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state themselves.." (Ar Ra'd: 11)

Allah has set the laws of the universe, and we call this sunnatullah. For example,

If we drink water, our thirst will be gone. This is sunnatullah. Imagine there's a water in the table in front of you. If you just scream out, "water! water!" The water will not magically fly to you, and you will become thirstier from screaming. You have to get up and take the glass of water.

If you just shout out "oh Allah help us! help us!" and just sit there doing nothing, nothing's going to happen either. Every day, babies get thrown away, children go hungry, families fall apart, drugs wreck people's lives, while we sit in inaction, with our comfortable homes, comfortable lives.

"I was fated to be stuck in facebook." 


Monday, November 7, 2011

on eid-ul-adha

Eid Mubarak!

From the author, his nuclear family, his extended family, his family-in-faith and everyone who celebrates eid in the spirit of sacrifice.

Friday, November 4, 2011

on golf balls

this is a good one, from a friend of mine.

The parable of the golf ball.

Once you hit the golf ball, it lands somewhere.

If you're an amateur like me, it lands far from the hole, in the rough. in malay we call that 'ke laut' (to the sea).

Or if you're good it may land closer.

Or if you're Tiger Woods it may land just a leeeeeetle bit off the hole.

Either you land in the rough, on the fairway or on the tee, it doesn't matter. The ball's still not in the hole.

Allah says,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ

"O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islâm and follow not the footsteps of Shaitân (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy." (Al Baqarah: 208)
Some people say "i'm already rotten boy. You still have a chance."
Some people say "yeah, im a muslim. During eid-ul-fitri and eid-ul-adha."
Some people say "i know i do these things, but at least i pray and fast. Not like THAT GUY, he's even worse."
Rough, fairway or tee, doesn't matter. Still not in. If you're still on the outside, find someone to whack you in.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

on using every second for good

What do we talk about when we meet each other?



"How's studies? OK?"

"Yeah, it has ups and downs, but everything's good man."

"How bout you?"

"I had an internship over the summer. It was awesome."

we are, i must admit, boring people.

What do the Sahabah say to each other?

There was this one time when Ibnu Rawaahah r.a held the hand of Abu ad-Dardaa' r.a and said:
"تعال نؤمن ساعة ان القلب اسرع تقلبا من القدر اذا استجمعت غليانا"

"Come, let us have iman for a moment. Verily the heart changes faster than the contents of a boiling kettle"
maybe in sounds better in malay : Marilah kita beriman sejenak. Sesungguhnya hati lebih cepat berbolak-balik daripada isi periuk yang sedang menggelegak.

Now that is awesome. They talk to each other about the things that are important. "How is your iman (belief)", "did you do good deeds today", "please remind me of Allah".

Even the first thing that we would be asked in the grave is ما ربك, who is your Lord.

And the stories we hear about the Sahabah are not stories about their professions, what businesses they did, how they made money etc. Instead we hear about their legendary deeds, like the 3 people who were dying on the battlefield, and one of them was given water to quench his thirst. He declined and said

"give it to my companion"

the second person also declined and said to give the water to his companion.

the 3rd person also asked to give the water to his companion.

In the end all of them died, preferring their friends over themselves.

Maybe the sahabah knew that we have no time to lose, like Allah says

"The Day they see it, (it will be) as if they had not tarried (in this world) except an afternoon or a morning." (An-Nazi'aat : 46)

On Judgment Day, we will feel as if we spent only one afternoon on Earth.

So find good friends who understand the purpose of life.