Last evening I had a most interesting SMS banter with a Professor of Islam at ISTAC through an intermediary! I was chided for chiding Nik Aziz  and spiritual leaders like him who are considered “men of the cloth”  “who r (are) close to God” and “inheritors of the Prophets”.

I was cautioned not to be “trigger happy” in attacking and preparing them for “the gallows”. Implicit in the warning is that people like you and me who don’t know enough about Islam should not be commenting on matters involving these individuals. The fear is that  we may incur their wrath and indeed the wrath of the Almighty!

My friendly invitation to the learned Professor to rebut my arguments in The Sun or  ninitalk was turned down – the reason being he is committed to an academic endeavour which leaves him little time for other causes.

Well Professor – I can’t say I’m not disappointed! First of all, as a citizen journalist,  to be chided for expressing a point of view, an argument against the alleged bribery and corruption by the head of a state government; and second of all, as a fellow Muslim, to be told  that being close to God is the prerogative of some people!

I’m disappointed that discourses among Muslims about Islam and its teachings, duties and obligations; interpretations and understanding of Islamic concepts and notions especially opposing ones like – heaven/ hell, dosa/ pahala, haram/ halal – have to remain under the robes of the ulama for them to decipher at will. I’m sorry that the ordinary person is not encouraged to reason with his Godgiven akal sharpened no doubt by education, exposure and experience of reading for himself/ herself the holy books.

I’m surprised that people are being cautioned not to question the spiritual leaders and engage them in rational and reasoned argumentations/ discussions about their common everyday rights and responsibilities, especially those involving government and administration.

Are we to accept everything that our spiritual leaders do or say even when they appear dubious and irrational? Is the flock expected to remain within the strict confines of the religion while the shepherds are free to interpret them at will? Or are we to roam the path they tread even when our instincts and good sense tell us  it’s not right?

More and more I realise how accurate the theory of Relevance (Sperber and Wilson, 1986) is in explaining human cognition and communication. In interpreting an utterance (speech or writing), the hearer/ reader brings to bear upon it the relevant linguistic and encyclopeadic knowledge and experiences which he/she has access to.

What this means is no two persons will get the same meaning and implications out of the myriad phenomena  around them because no two persons share exactly the same education, exposure and experience. Add to this the differences in mental, emotional, psychological and intellectual perceptions and cognition between people and the chasm is huge and deep!

In human society there are systems and mechanisms that act as equalisers, that try to create homogeneity in the socio-cultural, educational, economic and political milieus so that the community is better organised and people are easier to handle.

Religious leadership is one. Political leadership is the other. When the two are combined as they are in the person of Nik Abdul Aziz, that’s when confusions arise both for himself and his followers.

As for me, I would like to think although I’m not a man or woman of the cloth I feel close to God and fervently wish to uphold the truth and justice, fairness and equality, honesty and integrity of Islam!


6 Responses to “”

  1. 1 ninitalk
    November 17, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Here are some comments from my Facebook friends:

    Gina Shaik Daud: woooooo……as if that is going to stop you..ha ha.

    Fouzia Hassan Abdullah: How do they know that they are considered by GOD to be close to GOD??? How can they guarantee?? Are they really sure?????

    Shaik Rizal: professor bertauliah ka? hahaha

    Kamsiah Haider: She who sembah/ kneels before God can stand before anyone.

    Norhayati Kaprawi: they are no closer to God than us..

    Halimah Mohd Said: Hey you guys! Two funny ones and two serious ones and I know we are alike in using our akal, knowledge and experience to decipher the myriad happenings around us!
    But for a Professor to clamp me up without a proper argument! AIYAAA!

    Halimah Mohd Said: you too Yati!

    Norhayati Kaprawiwell… WELCOME to Malaysia!

    Charlie Chan: this professor of islam shows he has incorrect understanding & deserves a few revelations to come his way …keep us updated sister limah

  2. November 18, 2009 at 5:28 am

    Here’s more:

    Ruby Ahmad: Knowing K Limah, she’ll sting even harder now.

    Ainuddin Noordin: How sad that 1) your balanced and moderate post could be viewed as an attack, and 2) there be an inference that any individual could be closer to the Almighty than another..

  3. November 18, 2009 at 5:43 am

    My reply:

    Ya Charlie, Ruby and Kola – we must add “enlightened” to “educated, exposed and experienced”.

    Only then can we hope to have the wisdom to see beyond the narrow confines of our own specialisations or expertise!

  4. November 19, 2009 at 9:11 am

    dont worry kak limah allah itu maha pengasih maha penyayang the people in kelantan has been deceive all this while pity them katak di bawah tempurong haha hehe

  5. 5 a linggian and a georgian
    November 20, 2009 at 1:15 am

    I would like to laud you for writing the piece on the TGNA. It simply fails to amaze me that people are sometimes so blinded by “form” that they neglect to see the real issue. To some the TGNA has attained an exalted position and that he could no wrong.

    To me, what was sad was the fact the TGNA seems to be of the opinion that he had done no wrong in accepting the gift. Is he so poorly paid that he can’t use his own money? I am sure he has been to the Haj before and the Quran says you only need to go to the pilgrimage only once in your lifetime, and that only when you fulfil certain conditions.

    The other issue was the appointment of his S-I-L as the CEO of a Kelantan state company. Whether the guy is qualified for the job or not is moot. It is the perception that matters and the perception is one of nepotism and favouritism. The TGNA should be mindful of the fact that appointing close relatives to important positions in the state, no matter how qualified they are, risk attracting criticism of nepotism. Not appointing close relatives is a a sacrifice he has to make for being a public political figure. Again, in this case I have no doubt that the redoubtable TGNA and supporters will quote a surah or hadith or sunnah (usually out of context) to justify their action in appointing the S-I-L.

    Lastly, I pray to ALLAH that I can go to the Haj with my hard-earned money and NOT on sedekah, and I pray that I will not employ my S-I-L for my organisation


    p/s Remember the case of the guy who took bribes to go to Umrah.

  6. 6 ninitalk
    November 21, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Hi wawa and l&g – thanks for your comments!

    How right you are about people who cannot see beyond their narrow tempurung or ketayap!
    But I sometimes try to put myself in their shoes in order to see how they think and how they can be influenced so easily!

    The Quran and Hadith are not easy reading even for those of us who have reached a considerable level of linguistic and intellectual development! The religious concepts are tough and the language of the Holy Books hardly simple.

    So how does the ordinary people who are not so well educated understand them? Through their religious teachers – the ustaz, ustazah, imam, kathi etc and through the ulama. Most of the time the forms are forefronted because they are easier to follow. Counting the dosa and pahala, the kulhuallah and alhamdulillah, the different types of sembahyang (wajib, sunat, duha, taubat etc) makes for a simple arithmetics of religion that even young children can understand, add and subtract!

    So much so even the haj and umrah are being computed and tallied for pahala – the more the better!Its essence and meaning is lost in the fervour of form!

    How can one teach the religion more effectively? How can one explain and understand its teachings more clearly? This is one huge question all Muslims have the duty to answer and to undertake, not just the religious teachers and leaders!

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