Thursday, January 30, 2014

Another view of the Allah issue

 

Turning the other cheek on the 'Allah' issue

COMMENT I have followed the ‘Allah’ issue very closely and carefully these many months ever since it erupted after the court’s verdict. I have  carefully read the news on this issue as an academic, as a Muslim and as a Malaysian citizen.

I have played various endgame scenarios of this issue and all of them have bad endings for one group, both groups and most importantly the loss of our values in the Rukunegara.

To my mind there is only one course of action that has an acceptable endgame scenario. I must ask my Christian brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers, for the sake of the safety of our children and the sacred values of our nation’s Rukunegara, that I must plead the Christians use the most powerful weapon that they have; turning the other cheek.

I will explain why I have come to this conclusion and the answer surprisingly lies in the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself at the Treaty of Hudaybya.

I could also quote the examples of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi in their peaceful civil resistance but I think the Prophet Muhammad himself showed that he himself would ‘turn the other cheek’ for a more fruitful and non-egotistical stand.

As I am not a Bible academic, there may be problems and issues with my interpretation of the phrase ‘turning the other cheek’. With due respect to the Bible scholars, please allow me the academic and philosophic leeway to outline my ideas and concept of this phrase.

To me, the phrase ‘turning the other cheek’ is the ability of a person to rise above an egotistical stand as well as the ability to have a higher consciousness in looking at a bigger picture than that of the ‘enemy’ or the other party.

The other party may think that it has won because one party has decided to ‘cave in’ to its demands. But in reality that party who thought it has won in actual fact has suffered a terrible moral defeat and in time will crumble to the ground. If one does not believe in Divine Providence, then one just have to look at many historical examples of the ‘meek inheriting the earth’. The ‘meek’ in this case is the stronger of the two.

As one saying goes ‘ the greatest warrior is the one who can conquer his own Self’. After a hard fought battle, the Prophet also said that ‘we have come from one jihad to another that is greater than it’; the jihad in subjugating the ego-self.

Events of the Hudayba Treaty

Before outlining my strategy for my Christian brethren, allow me to summarise the historical events of the Hudaybya Treaty by the Prophet Muhammad. When the Prophet Muhammad and his followers were persecuted mercilessly in Mecca, he gave the order for his followers to emigrate to Medinah after securing the Pledge of Akaba with the Ansar people. The Ansar had promised to give protection to the Prophet and the emigrants.

The Muslims then left all that they owned - houses, land, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and all their worldly possession in order to have the promise of worshipping the one God, Allah with the Prophet. After many years of success in Medinah, the Prophet yearned to return to Mecca for the pilgrimage as decreed by God in the five pillars of Islam.

So he gathered the Muslims, donned the ihram, took no weapons at all and bravely crossed the deserts on foot and with camels for weeks until they reached the outskirt of Mecca.

When the Quraysh, who had persecuted the Prophet, heard of the advance of the Muslims, they sent out a man to negotiate with him. The Quraysh did not want the Prophet to return for that would shame them and acknowledged his religion and strength.

At the same time the Quraysh were wary of attacking an unarmed group bent on a religious quest. Furthermore all of the Muslims were family members and this would tear the social fabric of Mecca apart. The Quraysh spokesperson met the Prophet and demanded several conditions.

The first was that the Prophet cannot enter Mecca that year but the following year for three nights only. Secondly any Meccans who left to embrace the new religion and went to Medinah or with him must be returned, but those leaving Medinah should be allowed to return to Mecca. These two conditions were very painful to the Muslims. Had they not crossed the deserts for weeks to pray at the Kaabah and meet their family members once again after many many years?

And why must they agree to the unfair second condition which shows no advantage to the Muslims at all? To make matters worse, a man by the name of Abu Jandal had escaped the Quraysh from Mecca after suffering much persecution. When he finally came upon the Prophet and the Muslim camp, the Treaty was sealed.

The Quraysh spokesperson grabbed Abu Jandal and demanded the Prophet to allow him to take him back to Mecca. The Muslims were ready to do certain battle to save this one man, but the Prophet forbade them and consoled Abu Jandal that Allah will reward him for his condition. The Prophet had ‘turned the other cheek’.

He could have ordered the Muslims to march into Mecca and sustain a bloodshed in which the Muslim were ready to be martyred. But he gave no such order. The third condition of the Treaty stipulated that there would be peace for 10 years and the Prophet saw much that could be achieved with peace rather than stubborn resistance.

Many Muslim and non-Muslim historians have called this decision by the Prophet as a stroke of political genius. In the eyes of the rest of Arabia, the Quraysh had to acknowledge the strength of the Muslim nation because they had to sign a treaty! During the peace that ensued the Arabs came in droves to enter into the Islamic fold.

The ‘meek’ inherit Mecca!

On the day that the Quraysh broke the treaty by murdering a group of Muslims, the Prophet rode ahead of a 10,000 strong army to liberate Mecca from the unbelievers. The ‘meek’ had inherited Mecca.

With this lesson, I will now suggest an outline of how the Christians of Malaysia can follow the Prophet’s example by using a weapon that they had always owned in the Bible from the story of Jesus or Isa (peace be upon him). They may consider doing the following in order to ensure that our children may not suffer any actions from the Malay and Muslim extremists in Malaysia:

Firstly, the Christians should cease, for the time being, to use the word ‘Allah’ in their sermons and publication. To me, using a word without knowing the attributes of the word is pointless.

I may have used the word ‘Allah’ millions of times without appreciating His attributes and it has not brought peace to my heart. Only now that I have read many spiritual texts from many sources, God whether ‘Allah’ or ‘Tuhan’ has a new meaning to me.

Secondly, the Christians may tell their congregants that academically, historically, legally and morally, they have every right to use the word ‘Allah’. But in the interest of peace and harmony and more importantly, the safety of our children, the Christian community will cease to use this word in prayers and replace it with ‘Tuhan’.

Actually Zulkifli Noordin is wrong when he says the Malay word for ‘Allah’ is ‘Tuhan’ because in all the prayer books I have read the Malay Muslims would use the word Ya Allah, Tuhan yang Maha berkuasa, kurniakanlah bagi ku... So, the Malay Muslims still use ‘Allah’ in their supplications in that language.

Thirdly and finally, the Christians can tell their congregants that in the coming national elections, all of them shall vote for the party that is trustworthy and that would deal more fairly on this issue of ‘Allah’. The Christians shall wield their second weapon of strength - voting in a democratic and free and fair election.

What is the ‘hikmah’ or positive outcome of this action? Firstly, our children and places of worship will be safe from further reprisals. Secondly, those extremist Malay and Muslim groups would have no more fuel to feed the fires of hatred. It is a fact that firemen would cut down fresh trees in order to stop the march of a forest firestorm so that there would be no more ‘food’ for the fire to feed on.

The same goes for an army retreating from a battle where they would burn the food in that place in order to starve the oncoming army. Napolean found that out the hard way in Russia.

Putting safety ahead of ‘egos’

Thirdly, The Christian leaders shall be known that they put the safety of their congregants ahead of their ‘egos’ of wanting to be ‘right’ simply because they ARE right. I do not know how many times I have had to give in to my children and wife on many issues even though I know that I was ‘right’ in order to place the bigger reward of peace and harmony in my family.

Lastly I would like to end my article with some Verses of the Qur’an:

“Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) are a portion that stand (for the right); they rehearse the signs of God all night long. And prostrate themselves in adoration.

“They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) of good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous.

“Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for God knoweth well Those that do right.”

(Surah Al-i-Imran Ayat 113-115 (translation by Abdullah Yusof Ali)

The Malay and Muslim extremists may think that they have won and that they find favour with Allah, but truth be told Allah The Most Wise and Compassionate only loves those including the People of the Book who have the attributes recorded in the Qur’an.



PROF DR MOHAMAD TAJUDDIN MOHAMAD RASDI, who teaches architecture at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, is a veteran academician of 26 years. He specialises in mosque and Islamic architecture, particularly that which relates to Malaysia using a hadith-based and socio-cultural approach in order to create the total idea of a built environment suited for a whole social structure.
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Comments
 
I agree with the writer on 'turning the other cheek'.It applies to both Muslims and Christians but whoever does it first will be the winner in the eyes of God.As a Christian this concept of 'turning the other cheek' has been instilled in me since a child in my Sunday classes and by my priests.  
 
In fact Jesus himself demonstrated that to the extreme during his passion and death on the cross in the most insulting manner for a man,let alone for the son of God.If He can accept such insults and still forgive those who insulted and killed him.who are we not to follow that yet call ourselves Christians.
 
 

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