I was in Penang recently, attending a discussion cum meeting, organized by Forum Iqra or Foriq on which I am the vice president for the organization and Dr. Kassim Ahmad (some thinks he is the last Malay intellectual in our society, which I leave for BACALAH readers to decide on it) is the President. Among those who attended the “special” meeting were Nik Aziz (not to be confused with Nik Aziz, the Kelantan MB), Vice Head of Information for parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Astora Jabat, editor for Al-Islam, the controversial magazine and few of FORIQ’s committee members.

I refused to reveal issues raised during the meeting, as it might be a bit sensitive for the society to digest at. The topic touches on matters about heaven and hell from the perspective of the world and the hereafter. Let me just share a bit on the issues raised. According to Dr. Kassim Ahmad, akhirat or the hereafter happens in this world and not in other universe. This is the only point which I can explain, as I am not interested in prolonging the subject.

My interest, which I would like to share with my Bacalah blog readers (if there IS ANY!) is the trip from KL to Penang, with Astora Jabat and Nik Aziz. We put aside our political difference and discussed with full length about the continuing conflict between former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad with Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

According to Astora Jabat, who has the closest access to Tun Dr. Mahathir and Abdullah a.k.a Pak Lah a.k.a Prime Minister, both of them aren’t speaking to each other, and it was obvious during an event (Astora was there as well!) they kept themselves distanced.

If the squabble continues, it will give a bad impact and impression on the country and the rest of the world will think Malaysia is under a weak administration. Tun Dr. Mahathir will always be remembered as a leader from a third world country that changed Malaysia dramatically, from an agricultural based country into an IT based country (and now, under Pak Lah, Malaysia is back to square one, when Pak Lah reintroduced agricultural and other matters related to agriculture to turn Malaysia into an agricultural based country!) and will forever be known as Bapa Kemodenan or Father of Modernization.

It is not into my interest to discuss on the current issues between the Premier and the former Premier, but I would love to share my experience travelling together with Astora Jabat and Mr. Nik Aziz. Both are good Malay thinkers and they respect my opinions, eventhough I am considered as a young and unexperienced person to discuss about issues which involves deep thinking etc. Nevertheless they respect my ideas and opinions during the 4 ½ hours journey.

I didn’t know Astora and Mr. Nik Aziz can sing P. Ramlee’s songsl! All the while I always think that these people don't even have the slightest idea about arts! (Yet we discuss alot about arts, music etc and Astora even has a plan of producing a single!) They asked me to sing too and me, being a new generation chap compared to both of them from the era of bell bottoms, disco etc, estranged myself in joining in the sing along session with them.

Astora Jabat, as everyone knows is a well known writer, stringer, editor and an ulama (for your extra information, alim is a plural word for ulama and alim means someone who is well versed on things he or she is good at) in areas that involves Islamic thinking etc. He is also the editor for Al- Islam (do I have to keep on repeating this point, again and again?) and has created many controversial not so new topics such as it is not necessary for women to cover their hair as it is not part of the aurat (go and findout yourself JÓse) and many issues that can stir panic in the ulamak’s camp!

To listen to his voice singing Indonesian, Arabic and French songs is surely going to make your spine shivers as he has a very nice voice! (Jose ini bukan puji atau bodek tapi memang kenyataan daa…) But let’s put aside that experience. What’s more important in this issue is his ingenuousness about Islam and his moderate thinking about it.

We have to accept the fact that Islam and Muslim are trapped between two zones. Between being in the moderate thinking zone or in the radical thoughts zone, broaden by certain quarters of Islamic preachers in the society.

It is sad to mention about the reality we are facing. We are being lag behind in the modern time, and it is sad to see the disaster Muslims are facing now.

Are Muslims being fated by God, to have all this hardship? Or is it because we are the ones who cause all of this to happen? We should look back during the glorious times when Muslims are being respected by others because during that time they brought Islam on the right position and at the right place. I’m not saying Muslims now are not bringing Islam at the right position but the fact that Muslims are being insulated by the rest of the society is something we should observe and agonize.

My point is what has happen to the world? Why cruelty is being carried out on every corner of the world? The latest if not the current massacre in Iraq where some Iraqi villagers from the tiny desert community of Makr al-Deeb were killed by the so called American G.I liberators! Not to forget the infamous Guantanamo camp where most of the inmates are Muslims, suspected as terrorist by the U.S Government (who and what are their rights to make such accusation?)

We had an extensive chat and discussions in the car (I drove half the journey, from Kulim to KL – and made a stopover at my house, jumpa bonda dan ayahanda tercinta daa..) about life, politics (this IS my favorite topic!) arts and not to forget the well-known Akademi Khayalan (this is my terminology, and IT IS RELATED to Akademi Fantasia, according to my terminology on the programme) Karen, the only Chinese girl from Kelantan was eliminated from A.K recently. Some said she got the lowest vote from viewers because the second concert was shown live on Sunday, where it is a working day in Kelantan. (Do you think it is a good reason for them to give or it is a fact that she didn’t performed well in A.K?)

Or maybe because our A.K viewers felt that they want to save their credits or money (I’m talking about the sms voting, Jóse) for other contestants, maybe in the shape of a Muslim contestant? I may sound a bit racist but can we not deny the fact that racism still exist in Malaysia?

I began to think or consider about the necessity of having a non Malay contestant in A.K. It is a good question to digest at because we have seen a fret situation where some children in schools and students in universities refused to amalgamate with other race. They prefer to do study group with their own race and would never mix around with others. I may sound harsh but this is the reality that we are facing.

Another thing which I feel we can take into consideration is the reality of our society who doesn’t have the thought in considering for others, especially the elderly. There are many examples (go and take an LRT trip and you can see many youngsters who refuse to offer seats to the elderly, pregnant ladies and many) and there are many which I can't share with my "loyal" BACALAH readers!.

It is good for us to consider back and to think about it.

Kita Kan Tersesat Pabila Malam Menjemput Bulan Semula Ke Sangkar Waktu – The Salam Connection.


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