Saturday, September 30, 2006

Berlin

Berlin was the residence of Karl Marx, the son and grandson of Jewish rabbis, the man who introduced Communism to the world when he published his Communist Manifesto in 1848.

This prompted a revolution in Germany, which failed, and resulted in the emigration of a number of German liberals to America where they became known as the "Forty-Eighters."

Berlin also became the center of the social democratic movement, the worker's movement and the trade union movement in Germany.

It was the headquarters of the Social Democratic Workers Party, founded by Karl Liebknecht and August Bebel.

During World War I, a new militant leftist group formed by Jewish leaders, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, agitated for the overthrow of the Kaiser and the end of the war.

The war effort was hampered when 300,000 workers went on strike in January 1918.

In November 1918 there was a naval mutiny and a strike of the dock workers.

Finally, on November 9, 1918, Philipp Scheidemann, the Jewish leader of the Social Democrats, proclaimed the first German Republic from a window of the Reichstag building in Berlin.

Twenty years later, the Nazis, who always blamed the Jews for Germany's defeat in World War I, got their revenge by starting the pogrom which became known as Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938.

30,000 Jewish men, many of them from Berlin, were rounded up and sent to the concentration camps at Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald where they were held until their families could arrange for them to leave Germany.

foto hak cipta (c) Kean Wong. Tugu ini dikenali 'Marx-Engels Forum', di depan sebuah hotel baru Radisson SAS Berlin dan di kanannya, seberang terusan, gereja 'Berliner Dom'

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pope

Ucapan pope Benedict XVI di Universiti Regensburg, Jerman pada 12 September menarik sekali dan wajar diterjemahkan sepenuhnya (teks lengkap) dalam bahasa Melayu.

Walau isu hubungan antara akal dan agama tidak baru tetapi kontroversi yang hadir bersama satu kutipan dalam ucapan ini -- bersama sejumlah lagi perbahasan panjang dalam tradisi Islam dan Kristian berhubung akal dan agama -- menjadikan teks ini menarik.

Saya kutip sebahagian isinya di sini (seperti disiarkan dalam The Guardian, 15 September):

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (M√ľnster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.

It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor.

The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an.

It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation [text unclear] edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion".

According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war.

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".**

The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably ... is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident.

But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?

** perenggan yang dilaporkan kontroversi dan memberangkan umat Islam***

Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions.

A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology.

Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought - to philosophy and theology.

For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo.

In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: "It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being - but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss".

The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. "Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God", said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor.

It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.

*** reaksi melenting sejumlah umat Islam, termasuk pemimpin politik di dunia Islam, menunjukkan orang Islam sarat emosi, tidak tenang dan tidak rasional.

Persoalan ini debat falsafah yang panjang, setidak-tidaknya lebih 100 tahun, walau abad ke-20 menyaksikan simpang-siur kritik dan kritik balas yang menarik. Maksud saya, sejak munculnya faham positivisme sains dan bagaimana sains menjadi saintisme.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jualan

Bahaya pada agama dan agamawan bermula pada keghairahan, emosi dan kebutaan iman.

[Kira-kira maksud saya macam ungkapan Abdolkarim Soroush tentang orang Islam yang melihat agamanya semacam "pasangan kekasih" -- cinta itu membutakan. Dia tidak boleh "objektif" atau "mencipta jarak" atau "rasional". Agama itu ideologi, atau dalam bahasa Arab disebut 'aqidah. Akidah di sini dieja dengan 'ain huruf kecil, bukan 'ain huruf besar, OK!]

Ia tidak bermula dengan akal, buku dan kajian tetapi menampal sejumlah kata agama -- jika perlu, menempel kalimat-kalimat al-Qur'an -- sewaktu cuba merumuskan persoalan duniawi dan masyarakat yang cuba digelutinya.

Sekalipun dia bermula dengan akal, buku dan kajian -- semuanya ini akan jadi tumpul dek keghairahan dan kecintaan yang menebal, mengasyikkan dan membutakan. Tetapi kita namakan pula ia "iman"!

Sama ada seseorang agamawan itu jujur atau tidak, perkara ini sahaja boleh mencacatkan pergelutan akliahnya itu (kalaulah itu hajatnya yang asal).

Menulis memang boleh dan ia memang kerja 'mudah', apatah lagi jika ia memang seorang penulis atau sasterawan. 'Mudahnya' kegiatan ini seperti menyangkut/melilit serban (atau: kain yang selalunya diserbankan) di bahu ke hulu ke hilir dan menyimpan sejemput janggut.

[Jika perlu lagi, membawa biji-biji tasbih atau menyebut insya allah sebanyak 50 kali dalam tempoh seminit!]

Samalah mudahnya dengan memplagiat (ulang: memplagiat) patah-patah al-Qur'an dalam artikel untuk meyakinkan nilai agama pada artikel, macam juga mengutip petikan, nama pengarang dan buku rujukan.

Kononnya nanti dapat memberi sense of authenticity atau authority pada artikel dan penulisnya.

Lagipun, penulis kreatif atau manusia sastera ini memanglah dikenali sarat dengan kata-kata tetapi kontang kejujuran ilmiahnya atau tidak tekal disiplin ilmiahnya. Sarat propaganda tetapi tidak ada kedalaman akal.

Pada dasarnya, ia bergelut seperti meronta-ronta di permukaan air, dia tidak menyelam dengan lincah di perut lautan. Dia hanya mendebur-deburkan permukaan air dan mengocak untuk mencipta riak-riak.**

Ramai pembaca dan pengikutnya tidak akan sedar dia sekadar bermain air (bukan penyelam mutiara) seperti mudahnya mengutip pengikut di tepi longkang artikel kita.

Entah mengapa dan di mana celakanya, semua penulis mesti ada pengikut dan pemujanya sendiri!!! Walau bagaimana bodohnya penulis itu atau walau bagaimana buruknya wacana dalam artikelnya, pastilah ada pengikut dan peminatnya sendiri.

Jika dia tidak berfikir, dia lama-kelamaan akan menjadi penjual agama dalam industri agama. Malah itulah hakikatnya, dia sedang mencipta pasaran dan menjual diri, marketing himself in religious markets -- di hujung nanti keuntungan benda, material gain, macam ustaz-ustaz bebas di masjid dan surau kita.

Meletakkan harga, seolah-olah analisa Marxisme dalam hal ini sentiasa benar dan perennial sifatnya!

Bagaimana dia tidak dianggap menjual diri jika biodata, sumbangan, hasil kerja, lulusan akademik dan anugerah yang diraihnya terpaksa ditulis panjang lebar untuk memperkenalkan dirinya kepada dunia! Fuhhhh... parah 'tu!

Daripada seorang profesional menjadi semacam ustaz; daripada seorang seorang (bekas) penyanyi rock menjadi seorang ustaz; daripada seorang penulis cereka menjadi seorang ustaz -- apatah lagi kalau dia seorang lulusan agama!

Saya memerhatikannya dengan penuh minat. Ke mana jajaannya selepas ini. Sudah ramai orang yang menjualnya dan mudah banyak pula yang tidak laku....

** tugas ini tugasan berat; tugas cendekiawan yang tulen (yang terbukti melalui beratnya hasil pemikirannya daripada tebal bukunya dan dalam pula rentas waktu persoalan yang digelutinya) walau kata 'intelektual', 'cendekiawan', 'terpelajar', 'lulusan universiti' atau seumpamanya di negara kita boleh merangkumi semua jenis manusia yang ke kampus. Tetapi orang yang mendebur-deburkan air sekadar berminat menulis kolum, artikel pendek atau memiliki blog. Oleh kerana dia menjerit, maka tentu ada orang mendengarnya, sama ada mahu atau tidak, terpaksa atau rela. Seperti lolongan anjing di waktu malam, jeritan ini pastilah menarik perhatian.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tinjauan

Kepada mereka yang belum membacanya tetapi berminat mengetahui isu ini ... ada sesuatu yang tersembunyi, tersirat dalam berita tentang tinjauan pendapat ini.

Poll shows 73% think we are Islamic state
by Jacqueline Ann Surin (The Sun, 6 Sept 2006)

PETALING JAYA: Nearly three-quarters of Malay Muslims in Peninsular Malaysia believe that Malaysia is an Islamic state, according to a poll.

Seventy-three percent of 1,029 Muslims surveyed in the Muslim Identities Public Opinion Survey, Peninsular Malaysia answered "Yes" to the question "Is Malaysia an Islamic state?", while 25% answered "No" to the question and 2% said they did not know.

However, 77% said they did not want an Islamic state in Malaysia, like Iran.

Of those polled, 57% wanted hudud laws implemented. However, 60% said non-Muslims should not be subjected to hudud laws while 28% said they should.

The public opinion survey conceptualised and coordinated by Assoc Prof Dr Patricia Martinez of Universiti Malaya's AsiaEurope Institute, polled 1,029 randomly-selected Malaysian Muslims across the peninsula between Dec 15 and 18 last year.

It was administered by the Merdeka Centre and supported by funding from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

It also found that a majority of Malay Muslims in the peninsula say it is acceptable for Malaysian Muslims to live alongside people of other religions.

The majority also believe that Malaysian Muslims should learn about other religions in Malaysia, and that Muslims in Malaysia can participate in interfaith dialogue (see graphic -- as reproduced here below).

77% say Malaysians should be allowed to choose their religion
98% say Malaysian Muslims should NOT be allowed to change their religion
73% agree that Malaysia is an Islamic state
77% don't want an Islamic state modelled after Iran's
64% say syariah should remain as it is under the Constitution
79% say Malaysian Muslims should learn about other religions
83% believe Malaysian Muslims can participate in inter-faith dialogue.

Poll size: 1,029 respondents
Source: Muslim Identities Public Opinion Survey, Peninsular Malaysia, December 2005

Asked if Islam should be part of an Interfaith Council in Malaysia, if there were one, the majority also said "Yes".

Martinez noted that the survey has mixed findings, some of which dismantle the generalisations and assumptions that are made about Malaysian Muslims.

Ninety-seven percent of those polled said it was acceptable for Malaysian Muslims to live alongside those of other religions, while 76% said that if there were an interfaith council in Malaysia, Islam should be part of that council.

However, even though 77% said Malaysians should be allowed to choose their religion as stipulated in the Constitution's Article 11 which guarantees freedom of religion, 98% said Malaysian Muslims should not be allowed to change their religion.

Of those polled, 64% want the syariah to remain as it is under the Constitution.
At the same time, 77% said current syariah laws in Malaysia were not strict enough, 18% said they were sufficiently strict, and 2% thought they were too strict.

Forty-four percent also believed that the authority to monitor and punish Muslims for immoral behaviour should be state religious authorities, 33% chose family, and 21% chose others.

Martinez said the survey's objective was to get Muslims themselves, instead of those who speak on their behalf, to define their identity, issues and concerns, noting that this was the first such largescale poll that had been conducted in Malaysia.

"Some of the findings really repudiate some of the claims being made about Muslims, or even what many of us have assumed. For example, the growing orthodoxy, which came through in the survey, does not mean that Peninsular Malaysian Muslims are growing less open to diversity in the country.

"However, one needs to point out that some of those with the power to shape Islam or who make pronouncements in the media or who claim to speak on behalf of, or for Islam, seem to function from the opposite dynamics: making Muslims more exclusive, less able to accept and participate in cultural and religious pluralism," she told theSun.

The poll also asked Muslims which identity they would choose if they could only choose one, and 73% chose Muslim, 14% chose Malaysian, and 13% chose Malay. However, 99% felt they were all three.

Martinez said that if over 70% of more than half of Malaysians identify themselves primarily as Muslims, then national unity policies and programmes, which largely focus on bridging the racial and ethnic gap, do not sufficiently address the fundamental element of religiosity.

"Obviously, we need to build interfaith dialogue in all these policies and programmes, and by that, I mean the ability to know about the religion, and not just the cultural practice, of the other," she said, noting however, that unlike cultural practice, in interfaith dialogue, not everything is up for scrutiny or discussion.

"This is the sort of `sensitivity' that should be addressed. Not silence and silencing, but knowing boundaries. And here the golden rule, `do unto others as you would others do to you' suffices.

"If you don't want people discussing Jesus in disrespectful terms, then don't talk about the Prophet Muhammad disrespectfully, for example."

Martinez said the government should consider building interfaith dialogue along these lines into national unity programmes and projects so that people could learn to disagree with civility and live with disagreement or difference from fellow citizens.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Resolusi

Sebagai rekod, diterbitkan kembali dua sumber berita berhubung resolusi yang diluluskan dalam perhimpunan agung Pemuda MCA pada 26 Ogos lalu:

Pemuda MCA kecam buku UPM, sokong forum agama (mStar Online, 26 Ogos 2006)

KUALA LUMPUR: Pemuda MCA membidas pengkaji sejarah yang tidak bertanggungjawab mengubah fakta sejarah dalam menulis buku teks mengenai hubungan etnik sehingga mengabaikan sumbangan sesetengah kaum dalam proses pembinaan negara.

Pemuda MCA dalam 13 resolusi yang diluluskan pada perhimpunan tahunannya ke-43 hari ini menegaskan ramai ahli akademik dan pengkaji sejarah muda membuat interpretasi sejarah kemerdekaan secara selektif sehingga mengabaikan sumbangan kaum Cina dan India dalam proses pembentukan dan pembangunan negara.

Misalnya, yang terkandung dalam buku teks Sejarah yang digunakan di Sekolah Menengah pada masa kini selain buku "Hubungan Etnik" yang dirangka di Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Awam (IPTA) - termasuk di Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) - sehingga menimbulkan banyak kontroversi.

Sehubungan itu, Pemuda MCA menggesa Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi membuat pembetulan secepat mungkin dan menjemput pengkaji sejarah yang berbilang kaum untuk memeriksa isi kandungan dan fakta sejarah.

Resolusi Pemuda MCA turut menggesa kerajaan melantik pengusaha Industri Kecil dan Sederhana (IKs) yang berpengalaman untuk memegang jawatan pengarah dan pegawai kanan di Bank SME tanpa mengira kaum.

Mereka meminta supaya prosedur pinjaman dipermudahkan dan segala kerenah birokrasi dimansuhkan memandangkan sejak Bank SME ditubuhkan, pengusaha IKS Cina masih gagal mendapat pinjaman bank tersebut atas kerenah birokrasi.

Resolusi lain yang diluluskan perhimpunan tahunan Pemuda MCA adalah seperti berikut:
* Menyeru kerajaan berpegang kepada perlembagaan agar dapat memberi ruang pembangunan yang lebih kepada agama lain serta membenarkan forum agama bukan Islam dianjurkan.
* Menggubal undang-undang supaya hukuman sebat mandatori terhadap peragut selain hukuman mati untuk peragut yang menyebabkan kematian.
* Meluluskan penambahan anggota polis dan mengarahkan rondaan polis yang lebih kerap di setiap kawasan perumahan.
* Menyokong penuh kepimpinan Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sebagai Perdana Menteri.
* Menyokong penuh dan merealisasikan Sembilan Agenda Utama MCA meliputi sosial, ekonomi dan politik.
* Menyeru Kementerian Pelajaran menambah peruntukan untuk Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina (SJKC).
* Menyeru kerajaan meminda Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti.
* Menyeru Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi melaksanakan sistem meritokrasi sebenar dan meningkatkan sistem pengambilan pelajar yang lebih telus.

Full support for PM among resolutions (Sunday Star, 27 August 2006)

THE following are some of the resolutions passed by the MCA Youth delegates' conference:

* FULLY support Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the country's leader and his implementation of projects that benefit the people;
* FULLY support the realisation of the Nine-Point Party Platform;
* URGE the Education Ministry to increase the allocation for Chinese school under the 9th Malaysia Plan and approve the building, expansion and relocation of new Chinese schools;
* URGE the Government to amend Universities and University Colleges Act to respect the rights of associations and the freedom of speech of graduates;
* CONDEMN irresponsible historians for modifying historical facts and writing history textbooks in a bias way when dealing with ethnic relations as well as disregarding the contributions of Chinese and Indians in nation building;
* URGE all government agencies to recognise that “multicultural is the country's asset” and promote unity through interactions among people from various races;
* URGE the Government to stay true to the constitution to ensure that more space is available for the development of other religions and allow non-Islam religion forums be held and respect the freedom of speech of non-Muslims; and
* URGE the Government to amend the law to impose heavier punishment on snatch thieves.