Monday, March 9, 2009

Sigh……how do we educate Malaysians?

Sigh……how do we educate Malaysians?
10 Mar, 2009

Today, I want to talk about these three news items from The Star. I admit I have already elaborated on these issues in great detail in the past. For all intents and purposes, I am merely repeating myself. But it appears they are still harping on these issues so I have no choice but to continue flogging what I view as a dead horse.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

1) Massive gatherings mark Prophet Muhammad’s birthday
The Star

Muslims from all walks of life came together in massive gatherings to celebrate Maulidur Rasul yesterday. (Read more here:


2) Lam Thye: Why question English policy now?
The Star

Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye has defended the use of English in the teaching of Mathematics and Science.

“Why question it now? I am surprised that there are groups who are questioning the policy after it has been in place for six years. There is nothing wrong with the policy, although there might be weaknesses in its implementation,” he said when contacted yesterday. (Read more here:


3) Make stand on Islamic state, MCA Youth tells DAP
The Star

The DAP should stop being “two-faced” and declare its stand on the Islamic state issue, said MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Dr Wee said that whenever PAS spoke about an Islamic state, DAP would contradict the party’s Islamic state agenda before the media and public.

“It appears that DAP is playing a two-face role, whereby DAP rejects the Islamic state in front of non-Muslims but supports hudud and qisas when dealing with PAS,” he said in a statement. (Read more here:


On the first item above, about the massive turnout to celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, I have this to say.

There is nothing wrong in celebrating birthdays -- whether it is your Prophet’s, your wife’s, your parents’, your children’s, your friends’, or whatever. But can you imagine celebrating your close friend’s birthday and then slandering him or her after that? Would this not be viewed as hypocrisy? If you treasure or value that person enough to want to celebrate his or her birthday, would you not want to say nice things instead of bad things about him or her?

You honour a Prophet not merely by marching on the streets and by chanting praises to him -- although, as I said, there is nothing wrong in that if that is how you wish to celebrate the birthday. Of course, some Muslims would regard this is bida’ah or a deviant practice. They would argue that Prophet Muhammad decreed that Muslims must follow his example and since here are no records of Prophet Muhammad ever celebrating his birthday would that, therefore, not be considered as deviating from what the Prophet had decreed?

Anyway, today I do not wish to engage in a debate as to whether celebrating the Prophet’s birthday is wrong or right. In case you did not know, according to what the historians tell us, Prophet Muhammad died on his birthday so you are actually celebrating both his birthday and ‘death-day’ at the same time.

If you really want to honour the Prophet, then the best way would be to do so by following his teachings. And what, you may ask, did the Prophet teach us?

To answer that question would require volumes upon volumes of thesis and could never be covered in these four or five pages. I will, however, in as brief as possible, try to summarise my thoughts on the matter.

There are many Hadith or sayings of the Prophet, which are considered part of the holy text and a close second to the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam. Some of these Hadith relate the story of Abu Hurairah, the most notable of narrators of Hadith, as being horse-whipped by Omar, the Second Caliph of Islam -- who ruled after Abu Bakar, the First Caliph. According to this particular Hadith, Omar once whipped Abu Hurairah and ordered him to never again write any false Hadith or else he shall be whacked all the way back to Yemen, Abu Hurairah’s country of origin as well as that of our Malaysian Minister, Syed Hamid Albar.

Another Hadith relates how, one night, Omar could not sleep and was tossing and turning in his bed. He was feeling guilty because he had written down what the Prophet had said and he knew that was wrong. He got up and burned what he had written and only after that could he sleep soundly.

Then, yet another Hadith, relates the story about Prophet Muhammad walking by and, seeing Abu Bakar writing something, asked him what it was he was writing. Abu Bakar replied he was writing what the Prophet had said a short while ago and it is said the Prophet got angry and told him to destroy what he had written. The Prophet then instructed Abu Bakar to inform all others who had written anything he had said to also destroy them. The Prophet did not want anything other than the Quran on record to avoid disputes in future.

Now, these are all accepted Hadith. But these Hadith relate stories about how Prophet Muhammad has banned Hadith. The Prophet wants only the Quran to be the guidance for Muslims.

Maybe the Prophet knew something we all don’t. Can you see how, when the non-Muslims whack Islam, they use the Hadith as their point of reference? These people quote the many Hadith in their arguments to ‘prove’ that Islam is not what it appears to be. Take yesterday’s letter from The Anti Jihadist (RPK, a liar for Islam, or just incredibly ignorant?) as a case in point.

If you accept Hadith as valid, then many Hadith relate stories of Prophet Muhammad forbidding Hadith. How do Muslims reconcile this issue? But if you don’t accept Hadith, as many Muslims today do not, then the issue is a non-issue. But then the Hadith that relates stories of the Prophet forbidding Hadith would also go out the window.

The best way to celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s teachings would not be by marching and chanting. The best way would be to remember him by remembering his teachings. But Muslims are still very ignorant as to what his teachings are. So they resent what they perceive as non-Muslims criticising Islam. They consider this a crime.

Prophet Muhammad was the person who delivered the Quran -- not only to Muslims, but to all mankind. And if the Quran was what the Prophet taught us then Muslims must be aware that the Quran never forbade criticism. Instead, the Quran asks us to engage the critics in a civil, matured and gentle manner. No harsh words should be used and we must not be confrontational in our approach. This is what the Quran says so this is also what the Prophet wants us to do.

But do Muslims do this? First they want to ban any criticism of Islam or of the Prophet. They want to make it a crime and to punish anyone who they perceive as insulting Islam or the Prophet. And non-Muslims judge Islam by what Muslims do, not by what the Quran says. Yes, non-Muslims have a low opinion of Islam. But this is only because we act in a manner that gives Islam this poor image. And they will quote certain Hadith to support their arguments, which in the first place the Prophet has clearly forbidden, according, ironically, to the Hadith itself.

Muslims need to go back to the drawing board and try to ‘rediscover’ Islam. That would be how the Prophet would like to be remembered. That would be also how the Prophet would like his birthday cum death-day celebrated. And Muslims would be doing the Prophet a great service by first understanding Islam so that they can then make the non-Muslims also understand Islam.

On the second news item about the English language, Lam Thye was only half-right. He only spoke about the weak implementation of teaching English for science and maths. Actually, we have a weak education system, full stop.

When we stifled the education system by banning students from thinking that was when our education system started going downhill. The Japanese learn in Japanese, the Thais in Thai, the Indonesians in Indonesian, and so on. If you want to go to France to study you need to first learn French. Has using languages other than English ever been a problem for non-English speaking countries?

However, in these countries I quoted, they allow students to think. In Malaysia, we do not allow the same. We even have laws that make it a crime for students to get involved in politics.

Students must be allowed to think. They must be allowed to dissent if they wish to. Only through activism will students develop. Telling students what they can and cannot think does not help them develop. This is where the problem lies.

They can speak Swahili for all I care. But as long as they are allowed to think and can think for themselves then they can develop into the type of people we would like them to. But to treat students as if they were children would mean they would grow up to become children.

Innovation can’t be stifled. By stifling the freedom to develop means we are stifling growth itself. And that is why Malaysian students can’t develop. It is not about the language. It is about what we have not allowed them to become.

On MCA’s challenge to DAP: DAP has said time and again that it is opposed to the Islamic State. Why keep harping on the issue? How many times does DAP have to repeat it is opposed to the Islamic State?

DAP opposes the Islamic State. It has said so many, many times. Can we now let the matter rest before this develops into a Muslim versus non-Muslim skirmish the likes of ‘May 13’? Really, who needs a religious ‘war’ painting the streets of Kuala Lumpur red like what we have seen in many other countries?

MCA is hoping that DAP will melatah and say something silly so that this will drive a wedge between the three component members of Pakatan Rakyat. The Malays call this cucuk. They want to cucuk DAP so that the party utters some negative comments about PAS and/or Islam.

I really hope DAP will not be stupid enough to walk into MCA’s trap. Some of the DAP leaders have been in politics since I was still a schoolboy, but sometimes they act like amateurs who don’t know a trap even if it bit them in their backsides.

MCA is trying to make it appear that Islam is bad and therefore DAP must, yet again, whack the Islamic State to show it is not also bad. Hello…..where are Umno and the Islamic NGOs? Aren’t they going to make police reports and demonstrate in front of the MCA headquarters in Jalan Ampang? MCA is turning the Islamic State into a bogeyman, and on Prophet Muhammad’s birthday on top of that.

Hudud and Qisas are laws which the Muslims regard as God’s laws. No doubt Malaysia is a Secular State and not a Theocratic State, so Islamic laws can’t be imposed in this country. But why can’t we leave it at that? Why must MCA paint a scenario that PAS is bad because the Islamic laws that PAS talks about are bad -- and therefore DAP must prove it is not also bad by whacking PAS? The issue is presented as an Islamic State is bad and unless DAP whacks Islam then DAP is also bad.

Aiyoyo MCA. Be careful with what you say. I am liberal enough to allow dissent and criticism of Islam and/or the Prophet. I will not ask for your blood to be spilt. But there are people like JAKIM and JAKUN who will make police reports and will ask you to be detained without trial under the Internal Security Act.

Hell, even I who have been accused of being a Muslim ‘apologist’ because I am always defending Islam have been accused of insulting Islam and have suffered detention. What more you MCA people who are trying to use Islam as the whipping boy in your efforts to whack DAP? I mean, whack DAP if you want to. But why must you whack DAP on grounds that DAP has not whacked Islam enough?

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