Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Look at the Quran Ringtones Fatwa



23/02/2010



Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- A new fatwa issued by the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr. Ali Gomaa, has fuelled controversy among Muslim scholars, dividing them into supporters and opponents of this religious ruling. The Fatwa calls for Muslims not to use Quranic verses or the call to prayer as mobile phone ringtones.

Dr. Ali Gomaa stated that “it is highly inappropriate to use Quranic verses as mobile phone ringtones because the sanctity and glorification of the Holy Quran is far away from such a use, which ought to be forbidden…” Gomaa however indicated that it was permissible for Muslims to substitute Quranic mobile phone ringtones or the call to prayer with Islamic songs or praise of the Prophet that suit the length of the ringtone.

Dr. Gomaa said that he considered the use of Quranic verses or the call to prayer as mobile phone ringtones to be a violation of the sanctity of the Holy Quran revealed by God Almighty. Egypt’s Grand Mufti said “We are ordered to reflect on the verses of the Holy Quran and understand their meanings…such use trivializes the sanctity of the verses, which are for prayer, invocation and recitation and are not to be used illegitimately.”

Dr. Gomaa argues that recitations of the Holy Quran are abruptly ended when a telephone call is answered, and this could lead to the distortion of Quranic verses meaning and could misinform the listener. Dr. Gomaa maintained that this also applies to the call to prayer.

The Egyptian Grand Mufti said that it is unsuitable for the call to prayer to be used as a mobile phone ringtone because this indicates prayer times, and my cause confusion regarding the actual time for prayer. Gomaa stressed that the Word of God should be treated with the respect that it deserves.

In response to the fatwa, Dr. Moahmmed al Dessouki, Professor of Islamic Shariaa at Cairo University and a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, argued against the belief that using short Quranic verses or the call for prayer as mobile phone ringtones violates and demeans the sanctity of the Holy Quran. He said that this use of religious material can act as a reminder, or advocate Islam, particularly now when Islam is facing attack and censure. Dr. al Dessouki used the following Quranic verse to stress his point: “And continue to remind, for surely the reminder profits the believers,” [Surat Adh-Dhariyat, Verse 55].

Dr. al Dessouki further stated: “Saying that answering a call might lead to interrupting the verses or distortion of their meaning or even cutting off the recitation in order to answer the telephone call is not a strong enough justification against the use of Quranic verses or the call to prayer as mobile phone ringtones simply because the verses that are used as ringtones are usually short ones. Moreover, we should not preoccupy people with such trivial issues. Instead, we should focus on issuing fatwas that tackle more important matters that require the concerted efforts of Muslim scholars. Scholars should not disagree over secondary issues. It would be more beneficial to concentrate on more important matters like reminding people of religious fundamentals so that they try to adhere to them in a practical and faithful manner. Scholars should also encourage people to try and face serious problems like family breakdown, unemployment, extremism and militancy and other important matters.”

However, Sheikh Youssef el Badri, an Islamic preacher and a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, supports the fatwa issued by Egypt's Grand Mufti. Sheikh el Badri said, “The Holy Quran was not revealed to serve as a decoration on a wall or a mobile phone ring tone. The sanctity and glory of the Holy Quran must be protected against misuse. Therefore, it is prohibited to use Quranic verses or the call to prayer as mobile phone ringtones because answering a call could lead to an abrupt end to the recitation of the Holy verses and distortion of their meaning or even to their alteration once someone presses the button to answer a call. For instance, look at a Quranic verse like ‘Ta Ha. We have not sent down the Quran to thee to be an occasion for thy distress. [Surat Ta-Ha; verse 1-2].’ If we cut off right after ‘Ta Ha, We have not sent down the Quran to thee…’ the whole meaning is altered to convey a misleading message that the Holy Quran was not revealed.”

Sheikh el Badri pointed out that the same rule also applies to the call to prayer. If a mobile phone ring tone is set as the call to prayer, some might think that it is actually time to pray and this could create confusion.

It is worth mentioning that during a meeting last month the Islamic Research Academy that is led by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi, issued a fatwa prohibiting the use of Quranic verses as mobile phone ringtones as a result of a request by Mustafa al Shakaa – also a member of the Islamic Research Academy – to Tantawi for a fatwa forbidding this. Al Shakaa argued that using Quranic verses as mobile phone ringtones violates the sanctity of the Holy Quran and interrupts Quranic verses before they end.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The 10 Most Addictive Sounds in the World


Sounds

You're probably among the millions who have experienced it: driving in a car, listening to the radio, and suddenly this song comes on. It is not just any song--this was your favorite song when you were a teenager. As the first few notes strike up, you're transported back in time. Everything is so vivid, and your mind wanders to parties, first kisses and sweaty palms. It's as if time stands still and you suddenly realize that for the entire duration of the song, you haven't seen a single thing on the road.

There's no doubt about it, sound is immensely powerful. And yet 83% of all the advertising communication we're exposed to daily (bearing in mind that we will see two million TV commercials in a single lifetime) focuses, almost exclusively, on the sense of sight. That leaves just 17% for the remaining four senses. Think about how much we rely on sound. It confirms a connection when dialing or texting on cell phones and alerts us to emergencies. When the sound was removed from slot machines in Las Vegas, revenue fell by 24%. Experiments undertaken in restaurants show that when slow music (slower than the rhythm of a heartbeat) is played, we eat slower--and we eat more!

Is this just coincidence, or does sound make us buy more, want more, dream more and eat more? Any 50-year-old American can sing a whole range of television jingles from the 1970s--they are all well stored in the recesses of our brain. Yet if you were to ask the same of those who have come of age recently, you will find them stumped. Has the magic of a television tune disappeared, or has the advertising world lost sight of the fact that people do indeed have speakers at home? I decided to put these questions to the test.

Buyology Inc. and Elias Arts, a sound identity company in New York, wired up 50 volunteers and measured their galvanic, pupil and brainwave responses to sounds using the latest neuroscience-based research methods. We learned that sound has remarkable power. This may not be surprising for many, but it was certainly surprising to realize just how many commercial brands over the past 20 years have made their way into the world's 10 most powerful and addictive sounds--beating some of the most familiar and comforting sounds of nature.

Forget the sound of the waves or the songs of birds, they didn't even make the top 10. But the jingle advertising a computer chip, and object which most of us have never even seen, took the prominent second spot in our brains in terms of addiction. We strongly respond to the sound of Intel! This tells us that repetition is the key, since most of us can't even sing it. What this tells us is that there's no limit to this phenomenon, because a computer chip doesn't really have a sound.

The third most powerful sound is just over 10 years old, and yet it had such a profound effect on our volunteers that as soon as they hear it, they remove their headsets and check their bags for their vibrating cell phone. When we switch our phone into silent mode, we think it cannot be heard. But the vibration has its own sound, and almost immediately the test subjects stopped whatever they were doing to attend to their phones. It's hardly surprising that the Blackberry has been dubbed a CrackBerry--even President Obama is hooked.

Psychologically speaking, this is not a happy discovery. Recent studies show that the first thing we do when we wake is check our BlackBerry. Going to the bathroom, brushing our teeth and eating breakfast takes a back seat. Increasingly people sleep beside their phones--that message that arrives at 4.00am, is now a priority! Even though the sound of a vibrating phone has taken second place to a baby's giggles, it seems that in just over a decade technology now provides the predominant sounds of daily life.

As marketers become more aware of the power of sound, it will be used to increase brand recognition in increasingly sophisticated ways. It's just a matter of time before our brains hear sizzling steaks, newly lit cigarettes and sparkling sodas, and immediately register them as Outback, Marlboro and Dr. Pepper.

THE MOST ADDICTIVE SOUNDS IN THE WORLD

Non-branded and branded sounds:
1. Baby giggle
2. Intel
3. Vibrating phone
4. ATM / cash register
5. National Geographic
6. MTV
7. T-Mobile Ringtone
8. McDonald's
9. 'Star Spangled Banner'
10. State Farm

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dubai: Confronting Thieves and Spies

By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid

Dubai is certainly a safe haven for many people looking for success or just a quiet holiday destination, however not everybody has such noble aims. The city also seems to be a safe haven to another category of people as well, since it is easy to enter, work in, travel to and from, and live. The number of tourists who visit Dubai surpasses those who visit the Great Pyramids of Egypt, and the Tunisian and Lebanese beach resorts combined. In fact the number of tourists who visit Dubai stands at five times the number of pilgrims who visit Mecca to perform the hajj.

Dubai is a city visited by 15 million people a year, with foreigners constituting 90 percent of its residents, and therefore it is only natural that security would be a chief concern. Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was assassinated in the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel and who was a leading Hamas figure working undercover, entered Dubai using a forged passport. He was trailed by 11 professional who were members of an Israeli commando team. They entered Dubai Airport at a corresponding time using forged passports.

In order to confuse Emirate authorities they each came on different flights, checked into different hotels, and used different identities than the ones they used at the airport. Despite all of this, they were quickly identified after the crime was committed. One must remember that Dubai's hotels are always fully occupied during the school holidays in the region, and this means that the UAE police had to look through hundreds of thousands of images taken during a 48 hour period, and were therefore able to observe the suspects' movements during the day they spent in Dubai, even though they avoided using credit cards or anything else that might reveal their identities.

Dubai is an open city to everybody, and so it is only natural that this would also include some bad guys. More than 4 years ago we were shocked by a theft that more closely resembled the plot of a Hollywood film than reality. An international gang stormed the al-Wafi mall in two cars; they broke the windows of a jeweler's shop before escaping with 4 million dollars worth of jewelry. The Dubai police hunted down these fugitives in the same manner and arrested the majority of this gang. The last member of this gang was arrested by Interpol in Monte Carlo.

However not all big crimes are carried out with guns and a hit squad. In fact, the most serious of crimes can be committed without shedding a single drop of blood and are almost impossible to solve. In the al-Daira district of Dubai, the police arrested 4 Africans at an internet café who had hacked into a bank account and stolen 2 million dollars. Despite the precision of this crime, the thieves were exposed transferring the stolen money from a fictitious bank account to a real one.
The Israelis committed a crime against the UAE, not Hamas.

Assassination is a dangerous political crime that could open the door to secret wars that no country in the world can tolerate. Dubai has smoothed the way for millions of people seeking to work or holiday in the country, eliminating bureaucratic red tape and creating a model of liberty in the region, but it is now being threatened by such crimes and crimes committed by major gangs. It is only natural for the authorities to track down the culprits so that everybody can know that Dubai might be easy to enter, but it is not easy for violators to leave.

This is a fact, and Dubai even strictly deals with traffic violators who think they can spend a week of restive holiday and escape without having to pay speeding fines or other traffic offenses. However to their surprise, such violators are greeted with a statement at the check-in desk of the airport reading "Prohibited from traveling until fees are paid."

Israel has to understand that Dubai is not Cyprus, and as peaceable and simple as life might seem, Dubai is in fact a jungle of cameras and advanced security equipment, and it is difficult for one to notice the security vehicles on the streets or the police informants in the hotels.

At the Dubai Airport check-in desk, everyday travelers are denied entry to the country for attempting to enter using forged passports after being expelled from other countries for committing crimes. When they are expelled [from Dubai] mug shots are taken of them, and should they attempt to return their facial features are recognized through the use of technology no matter how hard they might try to disguise themselves or enter the country using forged documents.

The Israeli assassins strangled or poisoned al-Mabhouh, wiped any traces of their fingerprints from the room, and bolted the door from the inside in order to mislead even the most vigilant police in the world into thinking that he had died of natural causes. However they have now been discovered and their pictures are all over the world. They are being pursued politically, personally, and in the media.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Nine Chinese Men Who Control the Fate of America

By Dr. Steve


Nine politicians in China control the fate of the United States of America.

I'm not kidding. The implications are scary. Let me explain...

These nine men are the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China. They control the value of China's currency.

Fortunately, it's easy to forecast what a politician will do... He will do whatever it takes to keep his job.

The story is remarkably simple...

In China, the goal of these nine politicians is to keep the Communist Party in power. The way to accomplish that goal is for the masses to stay employed. Right now, China keeps the people working by exporting cheap goods. In order to make sure those Chinese goods stay cheap, the Standing Committee sets the currency exchange rate artificially low. And that is the crucial part of the story...

How do these nine politicians keep the exchange rate low? They buy U.S. dollars. Importantly, these nine men don't just sit on stacks of dollar bills... They invest those dollars in U.S. Treasury bonds.

It's gotten out of hand. China owns nearly $1 trillion worth of U.S. debt. China's holdings have increased dramatically every year... They've grown nearly tenfold since the end of 2000:

China*

Treasury Bond Holdings

2000

$99 billion

2001

$127 billion

2002

$166 billion

2003

$209 billion

2004

$267 billion

2005

$350 billion

2006

$451 billion

2007

$529 billion

2008

$804 billion

2009

$941 billion

*includes Hong Kong


And China's soon-to-be trillion dollars of U.S. government debt is not the end of the story. It's the beginning...

In order for other Asian countries to compete with China, they have to artificially keep their own exchange rates low. And that's exactly what they're doing. They're doing it the same way China does... They're buying mountains of U.S. Treasury bonds, too.

At this point, foreigners now own half of the U.S. Treasuries outstanding (of the ones that are not held by the U.S. government). And they're buying more... Most importantly, there's enough demand for U.S. debt from foreigners that the U.S. government can finance its deficits for years to come... all by simply selling Treasury bonds to foreigners.

Would you lend money to the U.S. government at 3.5% interest for 10 years? I sure wouldn't. I really can't name anyone who thinks 3.5% in government bonds is a good deal. The foreigners aren't buying to earn 3.5% interest. They're buying to keep the value of their currencies down.

India is an interesting example... Earlier this year, when India spent $6.7 billion buying gold from the IMF, it was all over the news. What WASN'T reported was that India bought far more U.S. Treasury bonds than gold. India has increased its stake in Treasuries by over $22 billion since last summer – increasing its Treasury bond holdings more than 200%.

So, yes, there's a mountain of demand for U.S. dollars – Treasury bonds – from all over the developing world. The important thing is demand will last. It will last as long as the nine men on China's Standing Committee don't change their minds.

So what does all this mean?

It means the U.S. dollar will not crash right now.

Most investors believe the U.S. dollar is about to crash. But the facts are clear... The dollar has ready buyers of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Treasuries. While the dollar might lose ground against gold, the reality is, no other paper currency has a tailwind of hundreds of billions of dollars of buying waiting in the wings like the U.S. dollar does.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Omar Al-Deghayes: My Guantanamo Nightmare

I like to read the Guantanamo detainees' experience during and after their incarcerations. Life can be cruel and we have to face the adversity and injustice.





Omar Al-Deghayes: My Guantanamo Nightmare
Thursday 18 February 2010
By Mohammed Al Shafey


London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Omar Al-Deghayes, the Libyan national living in Britain, considers his six-year incarceration in Oscar Block and Fifth Block in Guantanamo as a service to God. He does not harbor any ill will towards his jailers and views those days as a trial and tribulation. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat in London, Al-Deghayes recounts how he lost sight in his right eye while in detention and says that three of his American guards came to London to apologize to him after they left their military service for their treatment of the prisoners, as he says.

Al-Deghayes goes on to say that two of them embraced Islam and "proclaimed their sincere and irrevocable repentance". He goes on to say: "We introduced them to a number of British universities where they talked about the absence of the human conscience in Guantanamo and about the violations being committed there against the Muslim prisoners".

Al-Deghayes says he still recalls the dream that he had in the US Bagram Base in Afghanistan. According to Al-Deghayes, this base was really unforgiving on the body, mind, and soul. In the dream, he recalls seeing the cages in Guantanamo surrounded by barbed wire and the cells one overlooking the other.

However, he could not get out although the key to the cell was in his vest pocket. He could not interpret the dream until after three years in Guantanamo when he narrated it to Muhammad al-Zahrani, his Saudi colleague in the cell next to his. Al-Zahrani, one of whose legs was amputated, interpreted the dream to him by saying that "the key in the dream stands for prayer to God Almighty because prayer brings a happy ending after suffering".

Al-Deghayes adds: "I prayed day and night, since prayer is the core of worship, and the happy ending came after a few months". Omar Al-Deghayes, who is 40 years old, remembers two important dates in his life. The first is the day he was arrested in April 2002 in the Pakistani city of Lahore. The members of a full Pakistani security squad wearing black uniforms and covering their faces surrounded the house where he was living with his Afghan wife and young child. Some members of his wife's family had also come to visit.

The Pakistani security squad raided his house in search of weapons and took him to the interrogation center where, according to him, he was subjected to all forms of torture. He did not see his Afghan wife or his child who is now eight years old until now although his child lives in Dubai. He is still banned from traveling and is waiting for British travel documents in order to rejoin his son Suleiman. However, he is happy that he can speak to his son in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, and Pashtu. He learned the three last languages from his Afghan mother who, according to Al-Deghayes, was his best friend during his years of incarceration in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo.

Omar Al-Deghayes recalls his interrogation in Lahore and Islamabad. He says that this interrogation did not stop for two months before he was transferred to the detention center of ill-repute in Bagram in Afghanistan and later to Guantanamo. Al-Deghayes says that he did not despair and remained resolute.

These days, his detailed description of what he went through indicates his strong memory and sane mind despite all the scars and pains. But there is one incident that he will never forget. Al-Deghayes says that he does not recall the pain that he suffered when one of the guards in the detention center caused him to lose sight in one eye.

The reason was because he and several of his companions protested a new kind of humiliation that forced the detainees to take off their trousers and move around only in their underwear in Camp Romeo. In retaliation to the protest, the guards tied him with chains and beat him before subjecting him to that operation that caused him indescribable pain.

Recounting what happened to him that day, Al-Deghayes says: "I did not know what was happening to me until I felt cold fingers probing inside my eye. At that point, I realized that someone was trying to gouge out my eye from its socket". Al-Deghayes adds: "After he withdrew his fingers, I recall that I did not see anything. I had lost my sight in both eyes".

Omar goes on to say that after that, his guards threw him in his cell with fluid flowing out from his eyes. He regained sight of his left eye while he is blind in the right eye. He says that two years after he was released, he is forced to live the rest of his life with the darkness of Guantanamo, particularly since there are still many things that remind him of this detention camp. This is especially true because the detention center is still open at present and Al-Deghayes himself does not want to forget it in order to expose more of what went on in there, as he says.

Al-Deghayes considers his time in Guantanamo as bitter as the toxic colocynth plant, with one exception of one good thing that he and several other Muslim prisoners benefited from. This was learning the correct science of recitation of the holy Koran "at the hands of several fellow inmates from Saudi Arabia and Libya who are scholars in Shariaa".

He pointed out that the detention camp administration realized that the youths were more occupied with the Koran than with their interrogation sessions. In other words, says Al-Deghayes, the prison administration realized it had failed in brainwashing them and alienating them from their God. They used to take away the holy books from them and return only after the inmates protested.

He said: "They put Taliban leaders who were provincial governors and ministers next to the Arabs and these Taliban elements benefited from the Arabs as they were exposed to the other jurisprudential schools of discipline without any embarrassment".

Omar points out that despite the hard days and the torture, "A number of poets emerged in Guantanamo: Bahraini national Salman al-Balushi, whose poems talked about lost glory and the ordeal of captivity; Saudi national Yasser al-Zahrani; Yemeni national Nasser Muhammad Ali al-Abi; and Saudi national Mani al-Utaybi. The latter three committed suicide". Al-Deghayes went on to say: "We used to exchange poems about the ordeal of captivity".

Deghayes's facial features contract as he talks about the Oscar Bloc inside Guantanamo where he spent most of his days there in solitary confinement. He says that the camp is depressing. The floor is of steel and the cement is cold. We could not put on slippers after the guards took them from us. The air conditioning is very high and the glaring light very strong around the clock. These are tools of the devil intended to deprive us of sleep".

Al-Deghayes told Asharq Al-Awsat that he would spend one full month in Camp Oscar, be transferred to Camp Delta for one day, and then returned once again to Camp Oscar. This way they would be abiding by the provisions of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners. He said that the prison administration planted spies among us disguised as mujahidin. One of these was an Iraqi youth, another was Syrian, and another was Pakistani.

They collected information, spread fear and rumors among the prisoners, and planted certain stories among the prisoners. They admitted to us that they were recruited in Bagram in Afghanistan before they were brought to Guantanamo.

Despite the restrictions imposed on the prisoners about communicating with one another, Al-Deghayes says that the relationship among the prisoners was not interrupted in the maximum security camps: "We used to communicate with one another through the pipes or by shouting from the bottom of the doors or by a special communications code. We used to pass on news on our interrogation to one another. Anyone that refused to cooperate during the interrogations or refused to leave his cell was beaten severely. I personally was beaten over 30 times but I managed to overpower them and escape from inside the cell to the corridor. One time, I overpowered a senior officer but they put me in chains, threw me to the ground, and attacked me. The guards were afraid to step in the cells because they viewed the inmates as terrorists or bloodsuckers. Their faces contorted with fear when they came to tie up a prisoner because they did not know what to expect".
Talking about his compatriot Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi (Abdulaziz al-Fakhiri) who was handed over to Libya and died in Abu-Salim Prison in Tripoli last year, Al-Deghayes says: "I was touring British universities after my release from Guantanamo and was afraid for his life there [Guantanamo]". Deghayes says that Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi confessed under torture in an Arab country that Iraqi agents trained senior members of Al-Qaeda on the use of biological and chemical weapons.

These confessions were a "pivotal point" for the Administration of former US President George Bush in justifying the invasion of Iraq in 2003. His testimony provided a justification for the invasion of Iraq. Colin Powell, the former US secretary of state, had exploited Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi's allegations in his speech at the United Nations Security Council a few weeks before the invasion of Iraq.

Powell used that as proof of a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and the terrorist Al-Qaeda organization that is responsible for the 11 September 2001 attacks against New York and Washington. However, after the invasion, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi retracted his testimony and no evidence was found to corroborate this, as the US Senate intelligence committee reported in 2006, according to Al-Deghayes. He also talked about some offensive scenes, such as US guards throwing copies of the Koran in the lavatories.

Al-Deghayes is one of five British nationals that Britain requested the United States to release. The British government had refused to intervene for years because they did not hold British passports. Al-Deghayes recalls the moment of his release in December 2007 along with Jordanian national Jamil al-Banna, Algerian national Saymur Abdul-Nur.

According to Al-Deghayes, the latter is in a bad state because he is distant from his family and is not allowed to work; he lives in London now. Al-Deghayes also remembers the difficult days that he spent moving with an electronic bracelet on his leg because after his return he lived in conditions similar to "house arrest" for several months. Now, however, he praises God because his living conditions have improved. He obtained British residency and a law degree.

These days, he occupies his time in the "Guantanamo Justice Centre" to defend the rights of his other colleagues and try to help 10 Libyan nationals to travel to a third country as well as a number of other prisoners who are afraid to return to their own countries, as he says. He recalls his two colleagues Abu-Bakr al-Rimi and Faris al-Darnawi. The two voluntarily chose to return to Libya four years ago but they are still in prison.

He also mentioned 40 prisoners that do not wish to return to their own countries, like the Egyptian nationals Abdul-Rahman al-Jazzar and Sharif al-Masri, and another Egyptian national that lost his mind and lived in Bosnia. Al-Deghayes has filed a lawsuit demanding compensation against General Miller, the former military commander at Guantanamo who mistreated the prisoners and used to remind his soldiers of the 11 September attacks before they entered the prison wards. He has also filed a second lawsuit against former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf who now lives in Britain for having handed over a number of Arabs living in his country to the American authorities.

About improving services at Guantanamo, such as the food given to the prisoners, and a library that the camp administration at Guantanamo claimed to contain the best books, Al-Deghayes said: Attorney Clive Stafford Smith witnessed a meal that was presented to me and was shocked at the kinds of food. However, after the lawyers raised the issue of the food, the meals improved. As for the library and their claim that the most popular book for the Muslim prisoners was Harry Potter, it was kind of psychological warfare. The books contained pictures of naked women. Their intention was to arouse our frustrations".

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gus Dur Menjadi Buddha

Patung Budha Gus Dur: Resiko Pluralisme, Kiyai Disamakan dengan Budha

MAGELANG (voa-islam.com) – Kontroversi Gus Dur Bapak Pluralisme Indonesia masih berlanjut, meski Gus Dur sudah berpulang 40 hari yang lalu. Beberapa seniman asal Jawa Tengah menyambut gelar Gus Dur Bapak Pluralisme yang disematkan oleh Presiden SBY di Pesantren Tebuireng, Jombang, Kamis (31/12/2009), dengan memahat patung Budha berkepala Gus Dur.

Ide mem’budha’kan Gus Dur dalam bentuk patung itu bermula dari keinginan para seniman pahat untuk menghormati dan mengenang mendiang Gus Dur sebagai pejuang pluralisme Indonesia. Dari ide itulah, Cipto Purnomo, aktivis Komunitas Seniman Borobudur Indonesia membuat patung Budha berkepala Gus Dur yang diberi tema “Sinar Hati Gus Dur.”

Spontan, patung Gus Dur Budha itu menuai protes dari Dewan Pengurus Pusat Pemuda Theravada Indonesia (DPP PATRIA). Mereka tersinggung karena menganggap patung itu menyerupai Buddha.

"Kami akan mengajukan keberatan kepada seniman Bapak Cipto Purnomo yang telah menghasilkan karya seni ini. Yang mungkin karena ketidaktahuannya, telah merendahkan figur dari Guru Agung kami dan juga Guru Agung Dunia," kata Ketua Umum Dewan Pengurus Pusat Pemuda Theravada Indonesia (DPP PATRIA) Tanagus Dharmawan siaran persnya di Jakarta, Senin (8/1/2010).

Menurut Tanagus, umat Buddha sangat menjunjung tinggi figur Budha. DPP PATRIA juga yakin keluarga mendiang Gus Dur juga berkeberatan.

"Kami pun yakin, keluarga dan para pendukung Bapak KH Abdurrahman Wahid akan berkeberatan akan hal ini, yang sangat terkesan merendahkan figur atau simbol agama Buddha," lanjut Tanagus.

Pematung Gus Dur: Saya Tak Berniat Lecehkan Buddha

Meski patung Gus Dur yang menyerupai Buddha diprotes oleh umat Buddha, namun sang pematung, Cipto Purnomo, mengaku tidak berniat melecehkan Buddha.

"Saya saat menciptakan patung itu melihat bahwa patung itu adalah bentuk simbolis. Bukan maksud dan tujuan saya untuk melecehkan agama tertentu," tegas Cipto di rumahnya, di Desa Blangkunan, Muntilan, Kabupaten Magelang, Jawa Tengah, Senin (8/2/2010).

Cipto berkilah bahwa apa yang dilakukannya bukanlah pelecehan kepada Budha, tapi justru bentuk pujian kepada Budha, karena dia melihat adanya nilai-nilai kebaikan yang sama-sama muncul dari Buddha dan sosok Gus Dur.

"Gus Dur seperti kita ketahui, dengan umat lain tidak memusuhi, malah terjalin hubungan yang baik. Apalagi di negara kita banyak agama dan kepercayaan yang bisa diterima," tegas Cipto.

Kekaguman Cipto terhadap Budha memang tak perlu diragukan lagi. Tahun 2009 lalu, Cipto adalah meraih rekor MURI sebagai pembuat patung Buddha terkecil di Indonesia berukuran 8x4x5 mm dari emas.

Cipto menceritakan, awal mula membuat patung ini adalah ajakan dari pemilik Studio Mendhut, Sutanto, dalam rangka memperingati 40 hari wafatnya Gus Dur. "Seminggu sebelum acara dilangsungkan di Studio Mendut, saya dihubungi Pak Tanto untuk membuat patung," tegas guru SMP Muhammadiyah 1 ini.

Setelah memperoleh ide dan imajinasi, dia memilih sosok Buddha. Menurutnya, karya seni tercipta secara subjektif dari seniman itu berdasarkan imajinasi dan hasil pengamatan di lingkungannya.

"Saya dekat dan dibesarkan di lingkungan Candi Borobudur. Siapa yang tidak kenal dan tidak mengaguminya," tegas Cipto.

Keluarga dan pendukung Gus Dur tak keberatan Gus Dur di”Budha”kan

Meski patung Gus Dur Budha itu kontroversial, namun keluarga Gus Dur sama sekali tidak keberatan dan bisa memakluminya sebagai bentuk ekspresi seni.

"Kita tangkap itu sebagai bentuk kecintaan seniman kepada Gus Dur," kata menantu Gus Dur, Dhohir Farisi, Senin (8/2/2010).

Memang diakui Dhohir, tidak ada dari panitia atau seniman yang bersangkutan meminta izin mau membuat patung tersebut. Namun keluarga tidak mempermasalahkan.

"Tidak ada keberatan apa pun. Ya sudahlah, itu ekspresi seni," kata Dhohir.

Suami Yenny Wahid ini menambahkan sudah diinformasikan oleh para seniman, mereka akan kembali mengadakan kegiatan serupa di Magelang untuk memperingati 100 hari wafatnya Gus Dur. Menurutnya, publik masih belum banyak tahu kalau Gus Dur juga dekat dengan komunitas seni.

"Selain sebagai kyai dan mantan presiden, beliau juga pernah menjadi Ketua Dewan Kesenian Jakarta," kata Dhohir.

Bagaimana tanggapan Yenny Wahid soal patung Gus Dur itu? "Yenny juga sudah lihat gambarnya. Kita ketawa saja, ada patung Gus Dur pakai peci putih dll. Inilah ekspresi seni," pungkasnya.

...Meski meyakini bahwa Gus Dur adalah Wali Allah, namun Nuril tidak mempermasalahkan jika ada seniman yang ingin membuat patung Gus Dur dalam bentuk apapun...

Dukungan patung Gus Dur berbadan Budha juga disampaikan oleh Gus Nuril, mantan komandan pasukan berani mati untuk Gus Dus. Meski meyakini bahwa Gus Dur adalah Wali Allah, namun Nuril tidak mempermasalahkan jika ada seniman yang ingin membuat patung Gus Dur dalam bentuk apapun, namun Nuril tidak mempermasalahkan jika ada seniman yang ingin membuat patung Gus Dur dalam bentuk apapun.

"Mau dipatungkan dalam bentuk apapun silakan, itu hak mereka," tambahnya.

Resiko tokoh Islam berpaham Pluralisme

Menengahi kontroversi patung Gus Dur Budha tersebut, Abdurrahman Yusuf Chodori mengatakan, berbagai cara telah dilakukan masyarakat untuk tetap menghidupkan nilai-nilai yang diajarkan Gus Dur. Antara lain pluralisme, humanisme dan kebangsaan.

"Melalui para seniman, mencoba menuangkan ide kreatif tersebut melalui seni rupa dan patung," kata Yusuf.

Yusuf menjelaskan bahwa para seniman sama sekali tidak bermaksud melecehkan Budha, tapi hanya mengabadikan pluralisme Gus Dur dalam bentuk patung.

"Sebetulnya niatan dari teman-teman seniman Magelang itu untuk menggambarkan tentang betapa sangat pluralisnya Gus Dur tanpa maksud lebih dari itu," kata Gus Yusuf di Solo, Senin malam (8/22010).

"Waktu itu saya dimintai komentar dan saya pun menjawab Gus Dur tidak hanya milik orang Islam dan jika dilihat dari ekspresi seni itu wajar dan sah-sah saja," lanjut dia.

...Apakah atas nama pluralisme dan seni, apakah orang diperbolehkan membuat patung badan Hanoman berkepala Gus Dur, padahal dalam pewayangan Hanoman berwujud kera putih...

Meski para pemahat patung itu tidak menjelaskan secara detil tentang paham pluralisme, tapi dari ekspresi patung Budha Gus Dur itu dapat ditangkap bahwa pluralisme menurut mereka adalah menyatukan (baca: mengoplos) paham suatu agama dengan agama lainnya. Makanya mereka patungkan KH Abdurrahman Wahid dalam bentuk sinkretisme antara kepala Gus Dur (Islam) dengan badan Budha (non Islam). Ini bisa diterjemahkan bahwa pluralisme menurut mereka adalah sinkretisme (penyampuradukan) antara Islam dan Budha, sehingga Gus Dur –yang ditokohkan sebagai ulama Nahdiyin– itu berkaki, bertangan, berbadan dan berhati nurani Budha tapi berotak Islam.

Atas nama pluralisme dan ekspresi seni yang menganggap Gus Dur sebagai milik semua agama, maka divisualisasikan dalam bentuk patung Budha berkepala Gus Dur.

Lantas bagaimana jika para penggemar pewayangan yang mengidolakan pluralisme Gus Dur mengekspresikannya sebagai pahlawan kaum tertindas seperti tokoh Hanoman? Apakah atas nama pluralisme dan seni, mereka juga diperbolehkan membuat patung badan Hanoman berkepala Gus Dur, padahal dalam pewayangan Hanoman berwujud kera putih? [taz, dari berbagai sumber]

Baca berita terkait:

  1. Beda Ulama dan Paus: Gus Dur Orang Murtad atau Guru Perdamaian?
  2. In Memoriam Gus Dur dan Polemik Kitab Cabul
  3. Kontroversi Gus Dur-Wahabi: Siapa yang Aneh?
  4. KH Kholil Muhammad: Semoga Tak Ada Lagi Kiai Nyeleneh Setelah Gus Dur
  5. Menelisik Angka Kematian Gus Dur yang Ajaib?
  6. Gur Dur Masih Hidup Lho...
  7. Heboh!! Video "Gus Dur Dibaptis Pendeta" Diputar di Surabaya
  8. Patung Budha Gus Dur: Karena Pluralisme, Kiyai Disamakan dengan Budha

In Malaysia, women caned for illegal sex, In Saudi, Man lashed for 6 wives

I read these two news with awe and shock. Those people of the laws should know better and those who are punished should learn their lessons well. And for those who are confused, seek more knowledge from the right sources. Differing views and opinions on certain rulings are normal but must be based on principles of Islamic Jurisprudence.

The most important action is to take care of ourselves and families from the evils. We are responsible and accountable for our actions, here and hereafter.

3 women caned for having illicit sex

Three Muslim women were caned last Tuesday for engaging in illicit sex, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

They were the first women in Malaysia to receive such punishment under syariah law.

Two of them where whipped six times and the third was given four strokes of the rotan at Kajang Prison.

The issue of caning of women has ignited a fierce debate in the country after 32-year-old Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno was sentenced to be caned for drinking beer in July last year.



Saudi sentenced for six wives

By ARAB NEWS

JEDDAH: A court in Al-Masarha in Jizan region has sentenced a 56-year old Saudi employee of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Hai'a) to 120 lashes for being married to six wives at the same time, 20 lashes per wife.

He has been ordered to memorize two chapters of the Holy Qur'an. The court also banned him from traveling abroad for five years and delivering sermons or leading prayers in mosques. The accused had claimed he did not know it was against Islamic law to have more than four wives at the same time. He told the judge that he had no education beyond elementary school.

He faced the possibility of being stoned to death, a sentence applied in Islam against married men and women for adultery. Under Sharia rules, a man may marry up to four wives. However, the judge in the case, Sheikh Salman bin Yahya Al-Wadaani, said there was insufficient evidence to apply the Had Al-Zina (the sentence for adultery), according to Al-Watan daily.

The man was charged originally in June 2008 after he was reported for having three Saudi and three Yemeni wives. It also emerged during investigations that two of his Yemeni wives were resident illegally in the Kingdom.

The judge said there would be a separate case against him for marrying foreign women without official consent. No Saudi man or woman wishing to marry a foreigner may do so without approval from the Ministry of Interior.

The Murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai

Monday, February 15, 2010

Unforgettable Love Story



By Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballa

She was one of the noblest women of her time, coming from a very prominent family. She was also quite beautiful and the holder of a considerable amount of wealth, for she successfully ran her own business. To marry her would have been a great feat for any man, and indeed, quite a few of the most prominent and wealthy men in society had asked for her hand. Yet, she rejected them all; already being a widow, she had lost the desire to marry again.

Until he came into her life. He was young man of 25, and although he was also of a noble family, he was an orphan and was not a man of many means. He had made a meager living tending sheep in the hills surrounding the city. Yet, he had an impeccable moral character, and he was widely known as one of the most honest men around. That is what attracted her to him: she was looking for someone honest who could conduct business for her, as she – a woman in a fiercely patriarchal society – could not do it herself. So, he started working for her.

After he came back from his first business trip, she asked her servant, whom she had sent with him, about him and his conduct. The servant amazed her by his report: this young man was the kindest, gentlest man he had ever met. Never did he treat the servant harshly, as many others do. Yet, there was more: as they traveled in the heat of the desert, the servant noticed that a cloud had followed them the entire time, shading them from the blazing sun. Upon hearing this, she became quite impressed with her new employee.


Not only that, this new employee proved to be an astute businessman in his own right. He took his employer's merchandise, sold it, and with the profits bought other merchandise that he sold again, thus profiting twice. All this was enough for her: the embers of love in her heart that were once extinguished were re-kindled again, and she desired to marry this young man, who was 15 years younger than she.

So, she sent her sister who asked him, "Why are you not married, yet?"

"She believed in me when no one else did; she accepted Islam when people rejected me; and she helped and comforted me when there was no one else to lend me a helping hand."



"For lack of means," he answered.

"What if I could offer you a wife of nobility, beauty, and wealth? Would you be interested?" she told him.

He replied in the affirmative, but when she mentioned her sister, the young employee chuckled in amazement.

"How could I marry her? She has turned down the most noble men in the city, much wealthier and prominent than me, a poor shepherd," he said.

"Don't you worry," the sister replied, "I'll take care of it" (Ibn Al-Atheer).

Not long after, this wealthy business-owner married her young employee, and it was the beginning of one of the most loving, happiest, and sacred marriages in all of human history: that of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Khadijah, the daughter of Khuwaylid.

When they were married, the Prophet was 25 years old, and Khadijah was 40. Yet, that did not bother the Prophet one bit. He loved her so deeply, and she loved him as deeply. They were married for 25 years, and she bore him seven children: 3 sons and 4 daughters. All of the sons died at a young age. Khadijah was a source of immense love, strength, and comfort for the Prophet Muhammad, and he leaned heavily on this love and support on the most important night of his life.

While he was meditating in cave of Hira, the Angel Gabriel came to Prophet Muhammad and revealed to him the first verses of the Quran, which Muslims believe is the word of God, and declared to him that he was to be a Prophet. The experience terrified him, and he ran home and cried to Khadijah , "Cover me! Cover me!" She was startled by his terror, and after soothing and comforting him for a while, the Prophet was able to calm down and tell her about his experience (Al-Bukhari).

The Prophet feared he was going mad or being possessed.

Khadijah put all his fears to rest: "Do not worry," she said, "for by Him who has dominion over Khadijah's soul, I hope that you are the Prophet of this nation. Allah would never humiliate you, for you are good to your relatives, you are true to your word, you help those who are in need, you support the weak, you feed the guest and you answer the call of those who are in distress." She then took him to her cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal – a Christian scholar well-versed in the Judeo-Christian scripture – and he confirmed to Muhammad that his experience was Divine and he was to be the Prophet they had all been waiting for (Al-Bukhari).

After his ministry began, and the opposition of his people became harsh and brutal, Khadijah was always there to support Prophet Muhammad, sacrificing all of her wealth to support the cause of Islam. When the Prophet and his family were banished to the hills outside of Makkah, she went there with him, and the three years of hardship and deprivation eventually led to her death. The Prophet Muhammad mourned her deeply, and even after her death, the Prophet would send food and support to Khadijah's friends and relatives, out of love for her.

Once, years after Khadijah died, he came across a necklace that she once wore. When he saw it, he remembered her and began to cry and mourn. His love for her never died, so much so, that his later wife Aishah became jealous of her. Once she asked the Prophet if Khadijah had been the only woman worthy of his love. The Prophet replied: "She believed in me when no one else did; she accepted Islam when people rejected me; and she helped and comforted me when there was no one else to lend me a helping hand" (Al-Bukhari).

Much has been made and said about Prophet Muhammad's multiple marriages. There are many who smear him as a womanizing philanderer, citing those multiple marriages. This is, of course, totally false. If, God forbid, the Prophet was as they claim, he would have taken advantage of his youth to act on these desires. But he did not. Rather, he was with no other women before Khadijah, who was 15 years his senior, and he had no other wife alongside her, although multiple marriages was common custom at that time.

It was only after Khadijah died (God rest her soul) that he took on more than one wife at a time. All his subsequent marriages were undertaken based on divine instructions. Most of these wives were widows, whom the Prophet married to care of, or they were the daughters of prominent Arab chieftains, so that the Prophet could form a cohesive Muslim society out of a fiercely tribalistic Arab culture. The smears against the Prophet fall flat on their faces once the light of truth shines brightly upon them.

In a song about the Prophet and Khadjiah, Muslim rappers Native Deen sing: "We look for stories of love in places dark and cold. When we have a guiding light for the whole world to behold." Many of what we call "love stories" today are nothing more than stories of lust and desire, physical attraction disguised as love.

Yet, I can find no love story more powerful, more spiritually uplifting, more awe-inspiring than that of the Prophet Muhammad and Khadijah. It is a shining example of what an ideal marriage is, and if I ever claim that I love my wife, I must gauge my actions with that of the Prophet. As the country commemorates Valentine's Day, and everywhere we turn this month, "love is in the air," I cannot help but reflect upon, what is to me, the greatest of all love stories: that of Prophet Muhammad and Khadijah. Even with all of its amazing creative talent, Hollywood could not have come up with a story greater than this.


Works Cited

Ibn Al-Atheer, Ali. Usd al-Ghabah. Vol. 5. Cairo: Dar Ihya Al-Turath Al-Aaraby, 1996.


Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago doctor and writer. He has written extensively on a freelance basis, being published in newspapers across the country and around the world. He has been a Beliefnet columnist since 2001, and has written for the Religion News Service. In addition, his articles have been distributed worldwide by Agence Global. He is a guest blogger for The Chicago Tribune. and is a contributing writer for the prominent news website altmuslim.

Dr. Hassaballa is author of the essay "Why I Love the Ten Commandments," published in the award-winning book Taking Back Islam (Rodale). He is also co-author of The Beliefnet Guide to Islam (Doubleday). In 2007, his blog, God, Faith, and a Pen, was nominated for a Brass Crescent Award for a blog that is "the most stimulating, insightful, and philosophical, providing the best rebuttals to extremist ideology and making an impact whenever they post."

__._,_.___

Friday, February 12, 2010

Doubling traffic fines is not usury: Scholar

Had a lunch with Ustaz Zaharuddin Abdul Rahman and discussed on usury as he is very much known on this particular matter.

We are very much living in usury world, knowingly or not....do we options? Alternatives?

One of point is we do not have enough pool of good scholars who can spread the message effectively to the masses on usury.

There are a lot of confusions and grey areas which need to be addressed and resolved for all to understand the consequences of usury in our lives.

By Naim Tamim Al-Hakim

JEDDAH – In the ongoing debate taking place on the issue, a leading scholar argues that doubling traffic fines is not considered usury.

Dr. Saleh Al-Sadlan, Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence “Fiqh” in the Postgraduate Studies Department at Imam Muhammad Islamic University in Riyadh, said the doubling of traffic fines does not fall under the jurisdiction of usury in Islamic law.

This view supports an edict made by Dr. Abdul Mohsen Al-Obikan, the adviser at the Royal Court.

However, it is in disagreement with a ruling made by the Kingdom’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal Al-Sheikh who ruled that the doubling of fines for traffic violations is usury.

Al-Sadlan said scholars have different views about penalties which have to be paid with money.
“Islamic jurisprudence, Fiqh, was developed to determine normative Islamic conduct as detailed in the Shariah. The legal precedents and principles provided by the Qur’an and Sunnah were used to develop and elaborate a system of rules of jurisprudence. By the middle of the eighth century, Islamic jurists had developed and laid down legal theory to allow a judge or mufti to find out in all circumstances what was legal and moral action,” Al-Sadlan explained.

Coming back to the issue of usury or “Riba”, he said that usury, in its Qur’anic sense, means paying money for the use of money.

“Islamic ethics mediate through God’s will and are an integral part of the Shariah. It is a divinely ordained blueprint for human conduct, which is inherently and essentially religious.”

He said that his explanations are necessary to provide a concise background to Islamic rules which are derived from the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, the Prophet’s traditions.

With regard to doubling fines there is an authentic Hadith by the Prophet in Sahih Muslim indicating that it is an injustice for a rich person, who can pay a debt, to delay such a payment.
The Hadith is: Abu Huraira (May Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) as saying that delay (in the payment of debt) on the part of a rich man is injustice.”
Going by this Hadith, it shows that the doubling of financial fines, whether for traffic violation or not, does not fall under usury. He cited a further example: “When a man commits a mistake when he is in a state of Ihram the punishment will be severer than when he is not in a state of Ihram.”

He argued further that: “If a person bought a building for SR100,000 and did not pay the installment when it was due, then there would be a penalty for this. The penalty would be in the form of paying extra money.

He said this applies to traffic violations, pointing out that: “We understand from the aforementioned Hadith and other examples that the doubling of traffic fines when there are delays, does not fall under the jurisdiction of usury, but falls under the jurisdiction of financial or cash penalties.”

This was also the opinion of Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al-Obikan who had affirmed, in an earlier statement to Okaz, that the Grand Mufti’s edict, which states that the doubling of fines for traffic violations is usury, is not based on any of the principles of the Islamic Shariah, because the definition of ‘Riba’ in the Qur’an means paying of money for the use of money.

He said this jurisprudential definition does not apply to a traffic violation because it is a financial penalty decreed by the ruler because of the violation of the rules or committing a certain mistake. Thus from the Shariah perspective, it is not considered as “Riba”.

Replying to the fatwa of the Grand Mufti, he said: “Traffic fines come under the jurisdiction of financial penalties which have been approved by the majority of the Ulema and are legal in most of the opinions of the scholars including Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taimia.”

However, Al-Obikan has appealed to the higher authorities to lighten people’s burden and review these fees which have become a heavy burden on poor people with average incomes. – Okaz/SG

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hoard of Foggy-Petronas FP1 road bikes found in Essex

By Guy Procter -

from New bikes

10 February 2010 14:08

MCN has discovered a secret hoard of 60 £25,000 Foggy-Petronas FP1 road bikes in a bunker in Essex.
Carl Fogarty – race team manager and figurehead of the ill-fated FP1 project – said when told the news: “You’re joking – that’s amazing!” It had been thought – and stated by the team – that the bikes were shipped to Malaysia five years ago and disposed of. But in fact virtually all the bikes initially produced to homologated the FP1 for WSB racing are still on UK soil.
The collection – worth around £2m – is held in a state of suspended animation awaiting, with the bikes’ owner – Malaysian oil giant Petronas – keen to draw a veil over the whole episode. The firm burned £30m on a WSB program that was intended to kick-start a Ducati-sized bike manufacturing business in Malaysia, but in fact petered out with a 21st place championship finish in 2006.
The bikes were manufactured for Petronas by engineering firm MSX International in Basildon in Essex in record time in 2002, around engines designed by Austrian firm Suter Racing. The idea was that the production process would then be replicated in Malaysia and form the start of a range of higher and lower-spec bikes running to ten thousand and more. 75 road bikes were built in Essex, followed by another 75 in Malaysia six months later, where this famous homologation shot was taken (left).
Though the business that produced this first batch has since changed hands the bikes are still there, now in possession of engineering firm Arrk R&D, which also retains key MSXI staff who worked on the FP1. Tony White is one of them: “They were perfect” is all he will say about the bikes, the existence of which Petronas gagging orders prevent him from acknowledging.
As chief executive of Foggy Petronas Racing, Murray Treece was the go-between for Petronas and the UK engineers who developed the road bike. He says: “Our staff developed the race bike and then were involved in transferring the design and supplier information over to the road bike team. Exactly what happened after that to the road bikes is unknown (by me at least).”

It was a transition in which the FP1 lost virtually none of its clean racing looks, but a fair chunk of its power – down to 127bhp from 185bhp. Even so, at 181kg it should still have been a competitive road bike – though it was never released for road test. Eight years later only the non-radial brakes date the stark, stylish lines of the turquoise triples.
Foggy said at the time: “There is no doubt that this will be the most beautiful bike on the roads. It combines cutting edge technology with real elegance and has set new standards at the top end of the road bike market”. Treece echoes: “It was a beautiful looking and sounding machine. I wish I owned one”.
Treece believes Petronas underestimated the challenge in bringing a bike to market in such a short time with no infrastructure.


Priceless or worthless?

What does eight years do to the value of a now-outdated but ultra-exclusive superbike that failed to launch? “It’s tricky” says motorcycle valuation expert for auction house Bonhams Ben Whitworth. “The Petronas might be a bit long in the tooth compared to modern top-flight superbikes costing around £15,000, but the kudos of owning such a limited edition is certainly comparable to Ducati’s Desmosedici at £40-45,000. Very broadly speaking I reckon an example would be between £15,000-25,000. But until one is actually sold at auction and sets a precedent that remains very much a guestimate. It would be fascinating to see.”


Arrk’s Tony White doesn’t agree: “It was a great project to work on that culminated in the build of 150 great bikes – we had everything done down to the owner and dealer manuals.”
In fact the FP1 did eventually go on sale in 2005 – but only in one dealership, in Malaysia, called Naza Bikers Dream - where a pair were still for sale in 2009 for £31,433 each. How long this treasure trove of a tomb will remain unopened lies at Petronas’ discretion. And it’s not a volume in their history they appear keen to exhume.

Pelabuhan Khalifa - terbesar di dunia!

http://www.adpc.ae/images/maps/port.jpg

Hari ini saya berpeluang melawat tapak pembinaan pelabuhan terbesar di dunia, Khalifa Port di Talaweeh, Abu Dhabi. Selain pelabuhan, sebuah kawasan perindustrian dagangan bebas juga sedang dibina.

Kalau di Dubai, Burj Khalifa terkenal sebagai menara tertinggi di dunia, di Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Port adalah pelabuhan terbesar apabila siap nanti.

Khalifa adalah presiden UAE dan raja Abu Dhabi.

Masa ini masih saujana padang pasir menghala ke Teluk Arab. Masih sibuk dengan earthwork dan tambakan di laut.

Melihat maklumat dibawah (dalam bahasa Inggeris), banyak peluang kerjaya dan bisnes dengan penduduk dianggar mencapai 30 ribu orang bila siap.

Abu Dhabi government plans to develop Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone (KPIZ) at Taweelah and mandated Abu Dhabi Ports Company) to oversee the project.

http://www.adpc.ae/images/maps/industrial.jpg

The Port and the Industrial Zone will be developed separately. The Khalifa Port will be developed in 5 phases and will include a container handling terminal and piers for handling raw and bulk cargos. The Port will replace Abu Dhabi's largest existing port, Mina Zayed by 2012. The Mina Zayed port will then be redeveloped into a residential and commercial area. Khalifa Industrial Zone will be developed in 2 Areas (A and B). It will comprise of free zones, offering 100% foreign ownership to companies and individuals.

KPIZ will cater to a number of industrial clusters, including base metals, heavy machinery, transport vehicle assembly, chemicals, shipyards, building materials, processed foods and beverages, light manufacturing and assembly, small and medium enterprises, trade and logistics, information and communication technology, alternative energy and others.

In November 2009, the study of the concept master plan for Khalifa Industrial Zone Area B and the workforce accommodation area was under execution.

In March 2011, Area A of Khalifa Industrial Zone is expected to be completed.

In Q4 2012, the first phase of Khalifa Port is expected to be completed.

In 2030, the overall project is expected to be completed (delayed from 2028).


http://www.adpc.ae/images/maps/kpiz.jpg

Saturday, February 06, 2010

ISLAM AND FREEMASONRY

While on full swing to write my novel about previous life in New Zealand, I did some research on Freemason. I used to have a foster parent (only male can be a member) who was a Freemason and he did explain to me a lot of things about Freemason...and there was a local Lodge, with Quran.

It was in 1983 and I had forgotten a lot of the information, therefore some researches on the topic and stumbled upon this article.

Perplexing to read but I am not propagating....read to know and think.

(Hoping to finish my novel as soon as possible and it could be explosive...ha ha ha..years of ignorance about Freemason... had participated in some charity and family activities in New Zealand with foster parents....)

ISLAM AND FREEMASONRY
by W.Bro. Shaikh Hatim Fidahussein Nakhoda PM
Research Lodge St. Michael No. 2933, Singapore
District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelego, UGLE.


Assalaamo Alaikum, that is, peace be with you!

Worshipful Master, distinguished brethren and brethren: I am pleased to submit my dissertation with some trepidation, as I feel unequal to doing justice to this complex subject in a space of 20 odd minutes. But, I was persuaded to take up the challenge by the encouragement and assistance of W Bros Shiva Banerjee and Ronald Ng, whom I could not disappoint.

Islam has been much in the limelight these days. I have been diligent in attending to my duties as both, a mason and a Muslim and have come to realise that Islam and masonry are indeed compatible. Freemasonry may even be considered complementary to Islam as its principles only go to reinforce a Muslim brother’s own faith; contrary to the misconceptions widely held among my Muslim brethren from various sects. The distrust perhaps arises from the fact that masonic symbols are derived from segments of the Old Testament such as the Temple of King Solomon, which gives the uninstructed world the erroneous impression that masons are Zionists. It is serious enough for masonry to have been brought into question in Malaysia in the late 70s. Yet, the Old Testament is not excluded from the beliefs of Islam. On the contrary, King Solomon is considered to have been a follower of Islam 1 ! More of this later … Anyway, masons are obligated to submit to the laws of the VSL, which, in the case of the Muslim brethren in the Craft, is the Holy Quran, if they so desire.

In this sense, the Antient Charges are also relevant. They direct the masons “to obey the moral law… and practice the sacred duties of morality”. They exhort him to “never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine”. Masons are to “let a man’s religion or mode of worship be what it may… provided he believes in the glorious architect of heaven and earth,” They are advised that “by the purity of their own conduct, to demonstrate the superior excellence of the faith they may profess". Thus masonry is the centre of union between good men and true.” At home and in his neighbourhood a mason is urged by the Antient Charges “to act as becomes a moral and wise man… avoiding of gluttony or drunkenness… to give honour to whom it is due, and avoid ill manners.2 That, and the three grand principles: “Brotherly love, Relief and Truth” summarise what the fraternity teaches and expects of every man who of his “own free will and accord 3" submits to its dictates.

An essential need of a mason is his inalienable belief in the Supreme Being, God, Lord, Allah or Almighty. The term Islam, on the other hand, means submission to the Divine Will and Guidance of Allah and to follow the Divine Laws. The one who follows the divine Laws is called a Muslim. It therefore must follow that both Islam and masonry have existed from time immemorial and risen from the same roots. For this reason, King or Nabi (meaning prophet) Solomon is believed to have been a Muslim. I will shortly review Surah No. 27, Al Naml, of the Holy Quran, to explain this point of view.

In this context, however, we should also reflect on the Charge delivered to the initiate of masonry, which at one point states: “As a Freemason, let me recommend to your most serious contemplation the VSL4 , charging you to consider it as the unerring standard of truth and justice and to regulate your actions by the divine precepts it contains. Therein you will be taught the important duties you owe to God, to your neighbour and yourself. To God, by never mentioning His name but with that awe and reverence which are due from the creature to his Creator, by imploring His aid in all your lawful undertakings, and by looking up to Him in every emergency for comfort and support. To your neighbour, by rendering him every kind office which justice or mercy may require, by relieving his necessities and soothing his afflictions, and by doing to him as in similar cases you would wish he would do to you. 5 Evidently, masonry seeks only to reaffirm whatever faith a Brother holds, be it Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism etc. except, if he should be an atheist, and in which case he cannot be accepted as a mason.

Prophet Mohd was bestowed prophethood at the age of 40. One of the first decrees he promulgated was to inform the business community to use the same set of scales when conducting business transactions. In those days, traders used two sets of scales: one for buying & the other for selling. The prophet abolished that system, citing unscrupulous business dealings. In the same way the masonic Charge after Initiation mentions…”and by doing to him in similar cases you would wish he would do to you.” Or, as in one of our working tools explanation: “Thus by square conduct, level steps and upright intentions we hope to ascend 6 …”.

Allah in Islam has 100 beautiful names, and this cluster of names is called Asmaul Husna. They are His Divine attributes like All knowing, All Powerful, The Creator, The Cherisher, The Just, The Kind & Forgiving, All Seeing etc. Similarly, the masons refer to Allah by His various attributes too such as: TGAOTU, TGGOTU, TMH, TTALGMH, TGOOTU, TSCOTU and so on. Also, Allah can be beseeched by: “Ya HoVa”, the One and Only or “La Ilaha Il Lal Lah”, None but Allah, or as in the Chapter: The Tetragammaton or TTALGMH or El Elohe (Lord God).

For the Muslim masons, the Holy Quran is one of the three Emblematical Lights in masonry. It is referred to as the VSL. The former mentions all the Prophets, whom Allah sent, 124,000 in all, to different countries and peoples of the world from time to time, beginning with Adam and ending with Mohamed. The Main Prophets identified are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohamed. All are said to have performed miracles. The Quran was Mohamed’s miracle, it being the Words of Allah, which were carried by Angel Gibrael (Gabriel) for promulgation to the world by Mohamed. Again, just as the masons are encouraged to memorise the rituals for the better understanding of the messages enshrined in them, the Muslims consider it their duty to memorise parts of the Quran that are extensively used in the rituals of prayers, which for most, like the old English in the masonic rituals, is in an unfamiliar language. A person who memorizes the entire Quran is highly respected and is called a Hafiz. Not unlike our masonic ritualists, who are held in high regard in the fraternity.

Prophet Abraham, or Ibrahim, was the Patriarch and he was the first to build the Kaba in Mecca. As I had said earlier, Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim), Prophet Moses (Musa) and Prophet Jesus (Esa) had performed miracles. Nabi Esa, or Prophet Jesus, had performed the most number of miracles. Nabi Esa’s first miracle, as mentioned in the Holy Quran, was when Miriam (Mary) entered the chamber with her child in her arms. The Elders chided her, saying: “Hey Miriam, what have you brought?” In response, Mariam pointed at the Baby – indicating that the question be put to the Baby instead – when He (Esa) answered: “Do not scold my Mother, she has done no wrong. I am the Nabi Esa 7.

I have endeavoured so far to explain that both Islam and masonry have the same root, neither contradicting the other nor can either be identified reasonably as Zionists. Let me now give you a little insight into Islam, and more particularly its sectarian developments, along with some information on my own sect. The latter, because it appears to be historically connected to the scriptures adopted by masonry.

As I have already stated, Prophet Mohammed’s (pbuh) most important miracle was the Holy Quran. Every word in the Quran is the word of Allah (swt). The Quran is divided into 114 Chapters called Surah. Each Surah, except for one, begins with “Bismillah Hir Rah Ma Nir Rahim” (BHRMNR) in praise of Allah, meaning: “In The Name of Allah The Most Gracious The Most Merciful.” But the Surah No.9, Al Tawbah or Repentance, does not begin with BHRMNR. It has been speculated to be the continuation of Surah No 8. These words appear twice, however, in Chapter No.27 to make up the BHRMNR appearing 114 times in the Holy Quran, once in the usual manner at the beginning of the Surah and again in the letter within, in which Nabi Suleiman (King Solomon) wrote to Queen Bilqis, the queen of Sheba, inviting her to accept Islam, that is to follow Divine Laws. He had started his letter with the words BHRMNR, as it has always been so done by a Muslim. It lends weight to the belief that the Grand Master of masons was also an ancient Muslim! This Surah No.27 is called, Al Naml, or “The Ant”. Queen Bilqis reigned over a powerful empire in Yemen and her headquarters were in Hadhramaut, 20 miles North of Sana (Capital of Yemen).

The first Chapter in the Holy Quran is called Surah Fatihah, also known as Hamd, meaning praise of Allah. Like every book, this first Surah acts as an introduction to the Quran. This Chapter has seven verses and is used extensively at every Majlis or Meeting or in functions like: Wedding, Divorce, Death Anniversary and Burial Ceremony. It is recited in the “Five Times Prayers” and “Supplications” as well. This Surah is:

  1. In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
  2. Praise be to Allah The Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds;
  3. Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
  4. Master of the Day of Judgement.
  5. Thee do we worship, And Thine aid we seek.
  6. Show us the straight way,
  7. The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, Those whose (portion) Is not wrath, And who go not astray.

The practice merits comparison with the masonic rituals of saying a prayer or grace to TMH before and after every significant masonic event.

Though all the Muslims believe in the One and Only Allah and the same Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and the one unabridged Holy Quran, they are divided into several sects. The two main sects are the Sunni and the Shi’a. But, there are many other sub sects or groups. Again, not unlike the many Grand Lodges and rituals in masonry.

Sunnis consider 1st) Hazrat Abu Baker, 2nd) Hazrat Omar, 3rd) Hazrat Osman, and 4th) Hazrat Ali as successors of Prophet Mohammed and were based in Medina. They are recognised as Khalifas.

Shi’as, on other hand, regard Ali Ibne Abi Talib, the son-in-law & cousin of Prophet Mohammed, as the successor and Khalifa. After Ali, the Shi’as followed Imam Hassan and then Hussein; and so the reign from their base in Kufa in District Najaf, Iraq, was passed from father to son. The father designated one of his sons as his successor. The Shi’as are also called Imamiyas or the followers of Imam.

Taking Ali as the first Imam, the seventh Imam was Ismail and the 14th was Moez. The 21st, Taiyeb was the last of the Fatimid Imams, being the progeny of Ali / Fatema. Fatimid Imams ruled North Africa including Egypt and Sudan for two centuries 8 . Imam Moez founded the Al Azhar University in Cairo, which is still in existence. Recently the Imam or Dean or Mufti of Al Hazar University, Imam Mohammed Tantavi had visited Singapore.

Imam Taiyeb, the last of the historically important Fatimid Imams, instructed Queen Arwa (Arabic name: Hurratul Malika) to appoint several Syednas, or Chairmen, to carry on the Dawah or Mission in different parts of the world. Queen Arwa was the ruler from the same country, Yemen, and the same seat of Learning and at the same town of Hadhramaut as Queen Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba or Saba. Queen Arwa appointed the 1st Syedna, Syedna Zoeb, to carry on the Mission in Yemen, Hind (India) 9 , & Sind (Pakistan) 10 . Each Syedna nominates his successor. Today, the 52nd Syedna is His Holiness Dr. Abul Quaid Johar Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb tus. I belong to this sect, which is known as “Mustalian Taiyebi Sect of Dawoodi Bohras”. Our Community is about 1.2 Million spread out in all parts of the world. We follow the Mission as instructed by Imam Taiyeb. The affairs of the community are conducted by the joint rule of three known as the Syedna, Mazoon and Mukasir. These three rulers may be compared, though with significant differences, with the Principals of an RAC in the Craft: Syedna as the First Principal; Mazoon as the Second Principal and Mukasir as the Third Principal.

Then we have huzzoorias, dewans etc who are the junior officers and may be compared with the Scribes, Sojourners etc. of an RAC. There are no elections. The Syedna is nominated by his predecessor to assume office after the latter’s death and then the new Syedna appoints all his officers.

Some of the Shi’a sects, including my own sub-sect, instead of the usual five pillars11 of Islam, have Seven Pillars, the two additional ones being:

  1. The Oath of Allegiance to Succession and
  2. The Taharat — meaning cleanliness – Outward and Inner leading to Hereafter 12 .

Anyone born in a Bohra family is not recognized a Bohra until he or she is INITIATED, just like the Initiation in masonry, though the ceremonies are not comparable. The initiate must be of mature age, however, generally 13/14 years for a girl and 14/16 for a boy, and that he or she must come of his own free will. No coercion or pressure from the parents is permissible. This Initiation Ceremony is known as MISAQ.

The parents present him/her to the Syedna or his representative called Aamil, after a Bath and Wuzu, not symbolically washing his feet as in some of our masonic rituals. The ceremony of Misaq takes about one hour when the principles peculiar to the sect are communicated. It is stressed that the knowledge of the ceremony is confined within the community, just as the so-called secrets of the Craft. Then the oath of recognition and acceptance of: the Unseen; the Supreme Being that is Allah; Heaven; Hell; the Angels; the Holy Books; the Prophets; Prophet Mohammed; Ali and his Progeny and finally, the present Syedna. Then a charge is given, as in the Craft first Degree mentioned earlier, for Truth, Unity and Love of Brotherhood. To read the Quran very regularly and slowly, and with understanding, as the rituals in the Craft, and to follow the precepts laid down. To attend, if possible, the Mosque for Prayers and to answer any calls made by the Aamil, the representative... just as masons are extolled to answer the lawful summons and to attend all meetings. And finally, to follow the Shariyah, meaning the 7 Pillars, which are Walayat (Succession), Taharat ( Cleanliness), Salaat (Prayers), Zakat (Charity), Haj (Pilgrimage), Saum (Fasting), and Jihad (Resistance to injustice).

Here, let me digress to refer to: “seven or more to make a perfect Lodge” 13 . The Emulation rituals suggest that the number alludes “to seven liberal Arts and Sciences” that a mason is required to research to progress in life, namely: “Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy”. Esoterically, the numbers, 3, 5 and 7 may be said to allude to the harmony of body, soul and spirit of a Lodge represented by the JW, SW and the Master respectively; the five representing the five senses namely, sight, hearing, smell, feel and taste, which together with instinct and faith of man in the Supreme Being make seven. The masonic “five points of fellowship” is another example of the five duties pledged to assist a brother. These are not similar but certainly complementary. In Islam too, the embracing of a Muslim brother, breast to breast, has a similar meaning, both in happiness & in sorrow.

Prayers in Islam have two parts. The first part is always the same, with a ritual to stand, kneel, prostrate and sit. This ritual is called Selaat, and must be said in Arabic and must be from memory, as in the Craft, and facing the Kaba; the East in the Craft. The 2nd part of the prayers is called the Dua or supplications, which can be said in ones mother tongue. After Every Dua all the people say, Amin, so mote it be! After every prayer and Dua, there follows a handshake and the hand must be pulled asunder, as in some masonic rituals, in a pledge to remain a brother “until death do us part, to meet in the Hereafter”.

Majlis are meetings, generally held in the Mosque like our temple or in an adjoining hall or room. Every meeting or any function begins with a Dua seeking Gods Grace, which called Hamd, as I have mentioned earlier. And every meeting ends with a Dua for favours received from the Almighty for having marked well. The practice must sound familiar to every mason. Doors to a Majlis are never closed, but latecomers make a Tasleem or bow at the entrance, as a mason does on entry into an open Chapter, and on receiving a nod from the presiding Aamil takes his appointed place. Brotherhood is observed during the Five Prayers, when all fall in line behind the Imam who leads the Selaat; The Ritual.

Women sit in the upper Hall of the Mosque, segregated from the men. Brotherhood is also observed at the Festive board where there is no protocol. The diners sit in groups of eight persons on the floor in a circle at a Safra (tablecloth), and a thal (big dish about three and a half feet in diameter). The host, with his helpers, wash the guests’ hands with a small basin and pitcher. After the guests have settled down, the host proclaims BHRMNR … to commence service. One of the eight in each circle presents a small dish of salt and each one takes a pinch. The same is repeated after the group has finished the meal. The meal is concluded with a thanks-giving prayer to Allah.

The significance of the salt is similar to that in Consecration and some other masonic ceremonies. The prayer, before and after a meal, is also practiced in masonry.

My Community follows the lunar calendar where all the important dates are marked on the calendar. This is similar to the masonic calendar. Thus, all major events like New Year, Muharram, Birthdays of Prophet Mohammed and the current Syedna and death anniversaries of martyrs, and other major events are marked. Except for death and burial ceremonies, no other social functions are permitted to be held on those specific dates in the calendar. Similarly, masons too should perhaps avoid conflicts between Craft meetings and social activities, neither being less important.

Incidentally, a Good Standing Certificate is required for undertaking ceremonies like Wedding, Misaq, and Haj Pilgrimage. A Safai Chitthi (Gujarati for Clearance certificate) is needed to prove that all dues to the community have been settled for before the event. Similar to the masonic practice of receiving a stranger or a joining brother!

Brethren, I have tried to bring to your attention an issue that is close to my heart. In my pursuit to strictly conform to the Islamic principles and practices, I have never found my masonic duties to be in conflict or a hindrance. On the contrary, I have found my masonic duties to be complementary and in harmony with those of Islam. In this District, which is set in a population comprising more than half who are followers of Islam, I close with a fervent and humble hope that this paper may in a small way help to alleviate whatever prevailing distrust that may be extant among my fellow Muslin brethren towards our Craft.

Thank you!

References:

  1. Surah 27: Al Naml.
  2. Antient Charges – Concerning God & Religion and Of Behaviour.
  3. A part of every obligation undertaken by a mason.
  4. The Holy Quran, as far as the followers of Islam are concerned.
  5. Charge after Initiation – Revised Emulation ritual.
  6. Emulation 2nd Degree W/T.
  7. Surah No 19, Sec 2.
  8. “The Middle East – A brief History of The Last 2,000 Years” by Bernard Lewis – pp 83-84.
  9. Hind, referred to that part of the Indian sub-continent, which was to the east of the Indus river.
  10. The Indus river basin, a part of the Indian sub-continent, now Pakistan, which came about only in 1947.
  11. Prayers, Charity, Pilgrimage, Fasting and Resistance to injustice.
  12. Taharat is included in the prayers.
  13. Second Degree Tracing Board.