Stranger than strange

I just watched the news.Something just came to my amused attention.It was shown that a new game show had just been released in Britain.Initiated by their country’s Islamic channel.The name of the game was “Faith Off”.The show was an initiation meant to integrate understanding between Christians,Jewish and Muslims.Their understanding that is.The news clip showed two groups of four members,the Islam team and the Jews.Game show host,asked the Islam team.

Host: Name me the 5 pillars of Islam?

A female Muslim participant rang the bell and answered,

Muslimah: The Syahadah,solah and zakah.

Host: Correct!

…then suddenly a guy from the Jewish team cut in,and exclaimed.

Jew: I can give you the answer to the other two.

Everyone laughed.

Jew:(continued)…I think it has something to do with charity giving or something and the other is the Mohammedan pilgrimage.

Host: Correct with the last one though…

Everyone laughed.

I was appalled with what I just witnessed.As much as I congratulate the efforts of exchanging and sharing knowledge,I just felt that such exchanges were demeaning.The objective of the game show was to integrate sharing in a light hearted and joking manner.Game show quiz?How low can you get?What next?Crossword puzzles in your daily newspaper?Sigh.I truly hope and pray that no smart aleck in our sunny Singapore will pick up on the idea and propose a game of some sort with that intention of education.It does injustice to the noble efforts of the faith’s clergies.But I guess,that given the bad spotlight the religion has been getting in recent years,the need to do an image branding is needed.I just pray we do not have to whore ourselves to propagate the religion.Share and educate by all means.But we sure do not need a media circus.

Just a week ago,a concerned parent wrote in to the forum page of Berita Harian to ask the legitimacy of an idea of voucher/tickets/cards calling for donations issued out to the students to collect.Well,apparently it was to her understanding,probably told by her child,that unsold vouchers will have to be borne by the students or perhaps being “written into” their school fees.So her issue was,”Why is my child being enforced with such things?”In yesterday’s forum page,two replies were printed to that initial comment.I noted with interest as the writers were of the mentioned school’s origins and another parent of a student there.Both parties were vehemently of the opinion that no such practices are being done.Such things are never enforced,they say.Strange eh?

Well,I’m a believer of one thing.No trees move without the blow of a wind.Perhaps that yes,there was no enforcement of such practices.Perhaps that yes,the concerned parent may have misconstrued her child’s message.Maybe the child himself did not understand the given message.Maybe the concerned parties(teachers and school administration)was not able to communicate the process of the voucher selling,that made that particular child fabricate a scheme of such sort.Maybe the concerned parent was just being paranoia.Maybe there is no maybe.Wallahualam.But,there is an issue discussed.

The thing is,just 2 weeks ago,the same kinda thread of comments surfaced in Berita Harian.With regards to the mosque’s methods of holding “Beryani Amal”as almost the de facto means of collecting funds.The question being issued out was,why the same thing every year?Of course there were parties who challenged the writer of the comment to come up with a better plan than to just sit on the fences and observe.There were those in agreement.Needless to say,I am also of that couch watching party.Whine and bitch.That’s what true blood activists may wanna call us.Heheh.

But here’s the thing.What is wrong with just highlighting observations.Admittedly,there are some who was born in this world with the vendetta to bitch,but they are in the minority.I believe that generally,people who comment have a certain observation or perspective about things.I am of that opinion that whenever a comment is raised,I will act only upon an issue that has a basis of validity worth agreeing upon.If I do not agree,I do not have to rebuke,just to show how smart of an ass I am.If I do not agree,it just means that I have a differing opinion that I myself have to work on.

Like how,I agree that the century old practice of “Beryani Amal”should be looked into.I mean,with all the rise in food costs,there should be something worth looking forward to right?Or of how,we always almost know with certainty that every year,madrasah students will be doing some sort of fund collection for the refurbishments or improvements of their schools.Or how mosques will need to be refurbished with a certain allocation of funds that is so difficult to meet at times.And we know with a certainty that a majority of us are schemed into a system of contributing to the Mosque building fund and Mendaki fund.Monthly.So,my pertinent question is,how much does our Malay Muslim community need?300 billion dollars?200 trillion?100 zillion?Strange isn’t it?

I’m so bloody ashamed to admit that I do not contribute to either,which I’m sure they are aware of also.But I do know of a minority few also who do the same.I don’t know why,but I just prefer that act of putting in that odd two dollars into the mosque when I visit one,or that Muslim Malay flute playing busker at Woodlands.I feel more peaceful and full of intent.People always tell me,”Jaz,if you are not sincere don’t give!”That lovely old age adage.Well,guess what?I’m practicing it.Hehe.I certainly do not want to lament and curse having 3 dollars being deducted from my account,when I hear of people being refused help from the respective Muslim bodies.I always wonder…what do the 600,000 odd Muslim Malays out of 4.9 million Singaporeans want actually?For people to donate,so that mosques resembling community centers can be built with mushroom like speed?Or is it,as the mentioned school’s student’s commented,to build institutions that will generate the better “ulamas” in the society?

I admit that I belong in the above mentioned category of the mass.The inability of our community to pluck themselves out of obscurity,to chart a new path of progression,bothers me.When the government spoke about a knowledge based economy way back in 2001,programs on continuous learning sprouted within our community like wildfire. When in 2003,entrepreneurship was discussed,the community followed suit.When in 2007,finances and Islamic banking was discussed in higher context,the community’s ship garnered steam in that direction also.Or when Human Organ Transplants became a topic of discussion,religious opinions were sought on,and a decree(fatwa)was issued.Or when Halalship became an issue,a commercial interest wing was created to facilitate that.I mean,are we really,a community of followers?Quote,unquote.The challenge is,why are we not at the forefronts of progressive ideas and actions?Okay,if declining divorces and higher incomes are what you will define as one,I have no issues.The only chap I can just raise my eyebrows to is Maarof Saaleh.Solid ideas.Apart from that,what we see are people playing golf,to raise funds for charity.Urgh!

The 50 cents I pay for Berita Harian these days are a treat.I read with delight,321 million pages of insightful reports.Okay I’m exaggerating.It’s 456 trillion pages of worthy read.I loved what my Chinese friend mentioned once.”Your paper ah,put on table,small wind blow can fly.”I had to agree.But hey,we’ve progressed.Last time when it cost 30 cents,a cat blowing it would have made it flown too.

I should quit whining.Ya Allah.I should be busying myself with celebrating National Day.

Whilst in the shower…I thought to myself of a phrase.

“Familiarity breeds content.Unfamiliarity nurtures knowledge.”

This hadeeth was narrated by Muslim (145) from Abu Hurayrah who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”

I guess it’s plain to see.We are at that period of time,that the religion seems so alien to the world that people have to be educated,to be told of it’s relevance and to be shared.The age of ignorance.

The meaning of this hadeeth is that Islam began as something strange, when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called people to Islam, but no one responded except a few here and there. At that time it was something strange because its people were like strangers amongst others and they were few in number and weak, in contrast to the great numbers and strength of their enemies who persecuted the Muslims. Then some of them migrated to Abyssinia, fleeing for the sake of their religion from tribulation and to save themselves from persecution and oppression, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) migrated at Allaah’s command to Madeenah, after suffering intense persecution and in the hope that Allaah would give him people to support him in his call and support Islam. Allaah fulfilled his hopes, granted victory to his troops and supported His slave. The Islamic state was established and Islam spread, with the help of Allaah, throughout the land; Allaah made the word of kufr lowest and the word of Allaah is (always) uppermost, for Allaah is Almighty, All-Wise, and honour, power and glory belong to Allaah, and to His Messenger, and to the believers [cf al-Munaafiqoon 63:8]. This continued for a long time, then division and dissent spread among the Muslims and weakness and failure increased gradually, until Islam once again became something strange as it was in the beginning. But this is not because of their small numbers, because at that time they will be many, rather it is because they do not adhere to their religion or cling to the Book of their Lord and the teachings of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), apart from those whom Allaah wills. So they become distracted and turn to competing in worldly matters, like those who came before them, and they fight amongst themselves for leadership. So the enemies of Islam found a way in and they colonized their lands, humiliated their people and treated them badly. This is the way in which Islam returned to being strange as it was in the beginning.

Heck.So who are the strangers?The ones we are reaching out to,or the ones within us?

Usual disclaimer:These are solely my unreserved,free willed,opinionated and very personal point of view for my own self reflections.(muhasabah diri).

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