Sunday, 22 November 2009

Fun With Synonyms

EACH sentence below contains a synonym of the italicised word(s), spelt out in consecutive letters. Can you spot it?

Example: The couple continued their walk along the path in silence after he commented that she was not as slim as she used to be.

1. “If you haven’t heard the story about the naughty boy whom a group of villagers hired to look after their sheep, it ended with a wolf attacking the sheep and frightening the life out of the boy.”

2. “We have more plywood in the shed, boss,” the worker stammered out his answer.

3. The trainee chef said to me, “Would you like to eat a steamed fish and tell me what you think of its flavour?”

4. “Our companies will incur big losses for the current financial year if we do not control our expenditure.”

5. “Everything is hunky-dory,” a man says to his best friend, “except for one thing: the manager’s secretary seems to persistently avoid me.”

6. With a tear-stained face, she said to him, “Why do you detest me?”

7. Fred denied that he had teased her, but I saw him blush at the mention of her name.

8. The boss of the TV station said to the producer, “We need to re-examine the contents of the show if we want to attract more viewers.”

9. We listened with great interest to his amazing story about how he met a legendary adventurer.

10. Her success in six consecutive tournaments was indeed a rare achievement, as only 10 months ago, even a single title seemed to be out of her grasp.

11. “Post all your notices on this side of the booth.”

12. I had bought a melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cake to eat while I watched the football match on TV, but the game turned out to be dull.

13. The boa stopped by his friend’s place just to brag, “I squeezed two big animals to death this morning.”

14. The overnight rain brought further delays in its wake.

15. This up-and-coming tennis star is ingenious, amiable and unpretentious.

Latin Quips and Quotes

LATIN was the native language of the people living along the Tiber River in Italy. When they built Rome and went on to conquer vast tracts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Latin became the lingua franca or common language that united the various people within the Empire.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Latin remained the language that united European scholars well into the 19th century. As a result, modern English is still rich in ancient Latin phrases.

In celebration we take a look at the meaning of some of the most popular expressions.

Et tu, Brute?

Tradition has it that this line was spoken by Julius Caesar as he lay dying.

Caesar became sole ruler of the Roman Empire after starting a civil war in 49 BC. On the Ides of March (March 15) in 44 BC a group of senators ambushed Caesar and stabbed him to death.

Tradition has it these rebels were led by Marcus Junius Brutus. And as Caesar had been having a long-running affair with Brutus’s mum Servilia Caepionis, many thought Brutus was Ceasar’s illegitimate child.

Shakespeare used the line in his 1599 tragedy and it has since then become a classic reproof in betrayal scenes.

Example: The beleaguered Prime Minister could only gasp, “et tu Brute?” as his deputy supported a motion of no confidence.

Veni vidi vici

I came, I saw, I conquered. A famous boast by Julius Caesar made in 47 BC in a letter to the Senate describing how the Roman army had just annihilated the king of Pontus and his forces.

As Caesar had just become dictator of the Roman Empire, and the kings of Pontus had beaten the Romans in many past battles, Ceasar’s boast must have been incredibly annoying as well as frightening to the Senators.

Modern comedians love playing with this phrase, notably in the film Ghostbusters, “We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!” but the original phrase often crops up in sports reports written by correspondents who describe games in terms of warfare.

Example: Our football team took a veni vidi vici approach and crushed the opposition with a score of 6 to 0!

Pro bono

To work without charging a fee. In the past this phrase was longer: pro bono publico meaning for the public good.

In the early days of the Roman Empire lawyers were aristocrats who worked for nothing. But in later years lawyers accepted fees in the way of artworks or other valuables. This inspired the phrase quid pro quo meaning a deal whereby you arrange an exchange or barter goods or services.

Because many Bar Associations insist their members do a certain amount of pro bono or free work for people who would otherwise not be able to afford legal fees every year, the expression is commonly used in the legal profession. However, anyone doing work for free can use it.

Example: Angela is doing some pro bono English teaching in her local orphanage.

Ad hoc

Something that is improvised or made up on the spot. Also something that is created for a particular situation.

Anyone who is stuck in a difficult situation that requires an instant response will take an ad hoc decision. However, as these measures are decided in a hurry and without consideration for the effects they may have on other situations, ad hoc decisions may later lead to lots of trouble.

Example: The practice of announcing cost reduction schemes on an ad hoc basis in monthly budget meetings must stop.

Nil desperandum

A literal translation is never despair. The great Latin poet Horace used this expression in his works around 23BC and it has remained a popular slogan ever since.

This exhortation became popular in Britain in the 17th century and is still popular, especially with sports captains and business managers who are trying to cheer up their teams in bad times.

Example: Our shares have dipped by 20 sen today but nil desperandum chaps, we’ll do better tomorrow!

Nil nisi bonum

This is the short version of various longer Latin proverbs that all translate loosely as don’t speak ill of the dead.

Although the Latin version is becoming less popular now that so many schools have given up teaching Classics, movie buffs will remember it as the opening line from Lawrence of Arabia where a clergyman looking at Lawrence’s grave in St Paul’s Cathedral asks, “Well, nil nisi bonum, but does he really deserve a place in here?”

A related expression that mothers and editors like to use is if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Example: Andrew was a difficult man to get along with but nil nisi bonum. We will miss him.


Friday November 13, 2009

Monday, 16 November 2009

Speak Up and be Counted


Sometimes it takes an extreme act to wake us up to our rights and guard against extremism.

THERE was a flurry of excitement last week when the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) arrested Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin, the popular former mufti of Perlis, for supposedly teaching Islam without a licence.

Surrounded by some 40 policemen and then almost handcuffed like a common criminal, Dr Mohd Asri was taken to the police station but not charged. Nor was he charged in court the next day.

The fiasco may or may not have been related to a memorandum put up by the Syariah Lawyers’ Association and supposedly handed over to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The group then apologised, and in 24 hours withdrew it so the question of the arrest as well as other defamatory statements made by various individuals remain.

Presumably, none of the people out to get Dr Mohd Asri quite realised how popular the ex-mufti is.

To call a man who has written that Muslims should be nice to their non-Muslim friends, should ensure that women get justice in the courts and that we should treat animals kindly, an extremist defied all logic.

This must have been news to them: kind people are popular!

Indeed there were many statements condemning Jais’ actions. Politicians on both sides of the fence, as well as NGOs lent their support to Dr Mohd Asri.

One of the best statements came from the Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF). In their statement, they said Dr Mohd Asri’s arrest was an affront to “the spirit of intellectual freedom in the history of Islam.”

They also reiterated that “every person has the right, guaranteed by the Quran, to freely follow and express his convictions, irrespective of whether he is right or wrong.”

And what’s more, they decried the tendency of various groups to resort to “labelling and branding Muslim scholars on the basis of their opinions, with a view to disparage the person instead of countering their opinions with proofs and arguments based on the Quran and Sunnah.

“By invoking the age-old argument of protecting the Muslim community in Malaysia from confusion, these groups have exposed their inability to grasp the spirit of Islam and have only created a hole for them to hide in every time they are intellectually challenged.”

The right to “freely follow and express his convictions” is not just a right in Islam but also enshrined in Article 10 of our Federal Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of speech and which can only be limited by Parliament. Obviously some of these “Muslim” NGOs and agencies like JAIS have never read the Constitution.

Otherwise they would not be writing endless memorandums or lodging police reports against people for expressing their opinion. As the MPF have pointed out so succinctly, not only do these acts violate the Federal Constitution, they violate Islam itself.

It is ironic that the very people who want to establish an Islamic state are violating an Islamic tenet. What’s more, they will no doubt hide behind that same “secular” Article 10 if need be, although given that some of their statements are in fact defamatory, they may not have even that defence.

In many ways, this incident has been a real boon for the Malaysian public because it brings into focus the issue of freedom of speech as never before. We now know that our Federal Constitution and Islam are completely in synch on the issue.

Even more interestingly, Islam does not specifically apply the right to free speech only to Muslims either, thus making us all equal, as we are under the Constitution. Amazing what a little education does to how we think about ourselves.

This is why we should encourage everyone to educate themselves about their religions, including the majority Muslim population in our country.

After all, if we rely totally on agencies like Jais, what happens when they do strange things like arrest highly qualified ulama like Dr Mohd Asri?

We also should educate ourselves on our Federal Constitution so we know our rights as citizens of this country. In fact, it should be a school subject, just as it is in Britain.

But to help everyone along, the Bar Council is organising a My Constitution campaign to educate the public about our Federal Constitution.

To be launched on Nov 13 (this Friday) by the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk V.K. Liew, the campaign aims to get the public to understand, via simple booklets, videos and forums, what exactly is in the Constitution, and perhaps clear up some misinformation about what is not.

An educated citizenry is not just a more empowered citizenry, but also a more responsible one. That surely is a goal that nobody can argue with.

Perhaps it does take an extreme act for us to wake up and understand our rights. The right to speak on anything, including religion, is a right for all, not just some.

Note: No reproduction of this article is allowed without the author's consent.

Feminine or Masculine?

I received the following from my niece via email recently. This wasn't the first time I read this but this time I'd like to share it with others.

A SPANISH Teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.

'House' for instance, is feminine: 'la casa..'
'Pencil,' however, is masculine: 'el lapiz.'

A student asked, 'What gender is 'computer'?'

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether computer' should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men's group decided that 'computer' should definitely be of the feminine gender ('la computadora'), because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;

2 The native language they use to communicate with other computers is
incomprehensible to everyone else;

3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible
later retrieval; and

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.


The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be Masculine ('el computador'), because:

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;

2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE
the problem; and

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Soraya Jacqueline Jamil

Feeling frustrated that I had forgotten to bring back important documents to complete a report, I spent time looking at old photos over the weekend. Something which I have always enjoyed doing intermittently to relive old memories. This time round, I spotted a photo of my secondary school friend, way back in 1976. I was in Form 5 and she was a year my junior.

I could not recollect exactly how our friendship set off but I have nothing but sweet memories of the friendship shared. Occasionally, we would stay back together for extra curricular activities and had lunch (the tasty curry noodle) at the primary school canteen (then known as tuckshop) which was adjacent to the secondary school we were attending. We spent limited time together due to the fact that we were from different batch. Friendship grew, nevertheless.

As I recalled, she was the first friend who wrote letters to me during school holidays and once a while even during school days when we did not get to meet up. That was my first experience engaging in letter-writing. A wonderful experience indeed.

I owed it to her too, for cultivating my interest in reading. Because she read more, she always had more to share. Not wanting to feel left out and not always in the know, I frequented the school library, started borrowing more story books and reading became one of my favourite past time since then. I travelled without moving an inch.

We went our separate ways once we completed our secondary school. We continued writing to each other years after we left school. She then left for Australia to further her studies and I ended up in a teachers' training college. The last I heard of her was when she sent me her wedding photo from Australia. She had decided to stay on there, her mother's homeland.

It has been ages now but memories of her are kept fresh in my mind.

Dear friend, wherever you are now, I hope you have found happiness in everything you pursue in life.

Friday, 16 October 2009


When two people in a common group differ in their ways and views, dissatisfaction lingers, respect lessens and tolerance reduces. It's almost impossible to pretend nothing is happening and it's so awkward to be in their presence and act as if everything is all right. What makes matters worse is when both try discretely to convince others they are making more sense and being professional.

It's so tiring when we have to be around these people. How do we deal with matters like this? It makes it worse when these people are our friends. It's like what it says in the song "torn between two lovers". But hard as we try to be fair to both, they become sceptical and wary of us. Sigh.

Dear friends and colleagues, please come to your senses. Life is too short to be be wasted by filling our hearts with hatred and discontentment.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

A matter of opinion

There's one more week left of Syawal. Open houses are rampant, like an epidemic occuring widespread. It's an interesting phenomenon and this practice will be continued with the Deepavali open houses since Deepavali will be celebrated this weekend.

My subject of focus is however not the open houses per se but of married couples (among my own circle of friends) attending the open houses. I'm not certain if this happens only in the malay society or it is the same with other races in this country. I can't help but notice that wives will willingly tag along their husbands to the latter's friends open houses. But rarely do I notice that husbands are willing to do the same when it's their wives' friends open houses. To me, this is simply a case of taking advantage and to a certain extent bullying. Some wives will totally disagree with my opinion but I'm entitled to one. It's expected that these wives who oppose me will have their reasons, and some very common ones will be "men are like that", "wives should do what the husbands want them to", "i don't mind as long as he's happy", "what to do...i don't want to fight".

This is one of the explanations why women are endlessly oppressed by men. All in the name of love and being an obedient wife. Is this the only way that love and obedience can be translated?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Students In The Present Day

The quality of students at higher institutions is deteriorating at a lightning speed.By quality it includes academic achievement and attitude. Spoon-feeding at school level has to be reduced drastically.This is probably one major cause of the worsening of quality. Students expect everything to be served for them. They don't see, they don't know. And because this spoon-feeding is so often repeated by teachers, it has become a part of the education system in Malaysia. As a result, students become dependent, lack initiative and deem others incompetent when their needs are not attended to.

At higher learning institutions,students experience culture shock when they are required to be involved 100% in independent learning. Lectures are meant only to introduce topics and outlines as guidance for them to delve into. Tutorials are sessions for them to probe further into subject matters which are still vague with the guidance of lecturers. Nevertheless, even after a few months of advice and support, neither academic achievement nor attitude of these students transform.

Interestingly though, these students, despite often reminding them of what is expected of them as students of a higher learning institution,do not see the problem is with them. Instead,they find shortcomings with either the system or the lecturers.Indeed, it is a very sad state of affairs.

Very often lately the feelings of helplessness engulfs me when I don't seem to get through these messages to my students. Have I lost my touch of being the teacher I used to be? Or has time changed people so much that students have lost the quality that my peers and I had when we were studying?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

My Family : 1 Syawal 1430

This photo was taken on the 1st of Syawal 1430 (20th September 2009) at a photo studio in Tg. Malim town. A way to make Mum feel happy by capturing her moment being surrounded by her children and grandchildren and this photo will keep her company when everyone has gone back to their homes.

My endless love for my dear Mum.

Semoga Allah mempermudahkan segala urusannya di dunia dan di akhirat kelak.

Salam Aidil Fitri

Most people are back at work by Wednesday or Thursday after the Raya break. The Raya "thrills", however, is not over yet. There will be "open house" concepts practiced even at work places and this will go on till the end of Syawal. This will be the time when we see unity among all races. Funny though that it takes food to unite us. Such occasion repeats at every festive season. Thus, can we consider our unity seasonal? I hope not.

Salam Aidil Fitri to all.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Trust The Path You Walk

By Dr. Angela Heppner

Sometimes, more often times then not, people come into your life and you will know right away how special they are and that they were meant to be there. To serve some sort of purpose, help teach you who you really are, or direct you to the path of who you wish to become.

You never know or see them coming but once you lock eyes with them, get to know them, or share in their light, you realize that every moment spent with them that they will affect your life in some unique and profound way. Sometimes things can happen to you that at the time may seem painful, unfair, an injustice or uncalled for. Upon reflection however; you realize that without all of these obstacles you would have never realized or grew to know your real potential, your true strength, the will power you possess or your heart and true identity.

Everything happens for a reason, nothing happens by chance, by means of good or back luck, or by coincidence. Illness, injuries, loss, love, moments of true greatness and potential all appear to test the limits of your soul and help you to excel. Without this, life would be like a smoothly paved road, where nothing is lost but neither nothing is gained.

The people you meet affect your life. The successes and downfalls you experience create who you are and take you up your own personal ladder of greatness to become more than you imagined possible. Often times the unpleasant lessons and trials in our lives are the most important as it is these that push us towards our true potential.

If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your heart, forgive them and release the situation and if need be the person with love and the highest regards. These are the ones who have taught you about trust and who in the future you will open your heart to. If someone loves you, love them back with every fiber of your being and unconditionally. Do this not only because they love you, but because they are teaching you how to love and how to open your heart and eyes to truly appreciate the little things in life.

Make every day count, live it like it is your last, appreciate every moment and every breath you take, taking from this everything that you possibly can. You may never be able to experience it again so talk to those you do not know, share an act of kindness and giving. Let yourself fall in love, break free and set your sights as high as your heart will take them.

Tell yourself that you are wonderful, great and believe in yourself. Who will believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself? Furthermore, who can love you for you, if you do not give this to yourself? Believe in miracles, be a miracle so that you may also be able to experience miracles in your life.

Never be afraid to take chances and risks. Your greatest rewards and that which you truly desire is hidden behind the tallest mountain. Climb to the top, but never forget who helped you along the way. Gather those you treasure and take them with you.

Do not ever be afraid to fly, until you spread your wings, you do not know just how far you can fly. If you can dream it, you can do it! Never give up, the road of persistence and patience can bring so many riches to the heart. Your own personal beliefs and morals are the roadmap you have built for your own life. These are equivalent to how you think, act and respond to lifes successes; opportunities and what are perceived as shortcomings or failures.

The way you think about yourself and believe to be true about yourself and society dictates your own personal successes and outcomes. When you believe that success and happiness is yours now and will continually flow to you, it will. That which you focus on the most, you start to see more clearly, listen to your heart, what is it guiding you to focus on? When you focus on the positive it to becomes your reality and you become more surrounded by such.

Positive and empowering thoughts and feelings allow the universe to reward you with unlimited opportunities for greatness. Prioritize, focus and remain constant and steady on no more than two visuals to help alleviate confusion. Say “I Want” or “I wish for” rather than “ I don’t want this or that.” If you focus on the “I don’t wants,” this is exactly what you will have. Act and do, rather than fear. The difference between those who succeed and those who do not is that the successful do it anyway in spite of everything.

Never fear making a mistake, these are actually lessons in disguise. If a mistake were to be named, it would be found in the “Not learning.” We become who we surround ourselves with. If you do not like that which is around you, the change either starts with you, or the attitude you currently have regarding such.

Never allow anyone to rain on your parade, or to try to take from you, your dreams, goals and aspirations. Success is measured not be one alone but by the whole. Align yourself with those who ring true to your purpose and who can share in your vision. Learn also from the wisdom of others and if it resonates as your own personal truth, then pass it on to others who also may benefit from it.

Rather than waiting until you learn more, have more, do more and experience more, the time is now to fully embrace and believe in yourself. If it is beyond your control, then you must release it, if you can change it; then change it; only you can do this. If the outcome seems to be the same outcome time after time, one being unsatisfactory to you, try something new, a different approach. The same actions will always bring the same results. If you wish for something different, then you must try something different. This is better known as breaking unhealthy life patterns. The ones that seem to keep coming back and repeating themselves time after time. It is not up to your surroundings to change.

Respect is the ultimate key to all our relationships and basically every facet of life. When this is present, there are no conflicts, no disagreements; no difficulties. There are also no boundaries set and none to break. Give and do unto others as you would have done unto you. If you wish to walk in freedom, also give this to another, this is respect. Walk your path and do what rings true to you, but also lovingly support the paths and choices of others in your life and circle and personal relationships, this is respect. Would you wish anything less for yourself? Without respect, there really isn’t anything holding the relationship together. Respect over flows into every single righteous aspect including love. There is no one way, it is always at least a two way street. There is no me, but we. We must not only think of ourselves and what our own aspirations and dreams are, but also those of another. This is respect and love. To have or be in any sort of relationship, there is more than one. Whatever it is that you wish to have in your own life, pay this same respect and kindness and consideration to another, so that you may be able to rightly receive this for yourself.

About the Author:
Dr. Angela Heppner holds a Bachelor of Metaphysical Sciences (B.Msc.) degree, Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree, Philosopher Of Holistic Life Coaching (Ph.D) degree, Aromatherapy (S.N.H.S. H.I.Dip.), Hypnotherapy ( S.N.H.S. Dip.), Crystal Healing (S.N.H.S. Dip.), Color Therapy (S.N.H.S. Dip), Shiatsu (S.N.H.S. Dip.), Public Relations (Dip.). She is an Ordained Minister, Journalist - Free Lance Writer, Poet / Song Writer, and most importantly, does healing with the Arch Angels. See more about Dr. Heppner on Facebook or at

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Of Breaking Fast

Breaking fast at restaurants seems to be a trend nowadays. It may be common among youngsters and those not staying with their parents but for the past few years, even families were seen to break fast at eateries. To some, perhaps it's a privilege but to many, I'm sure it's out of choice.

In my childhood days, I don't remember having that advantage of breaking fast outside my own home. It was always with my family at home. My late father's rule. It may sound conservative today but we must bear in mind that family institution then was defined differently in comparison to now. I wonder if these days there are parents who think like my late father.

Nevertheless, since people have the tendency to break fast at restaurants, a few things should be taken into consideration by the owners of these eating places or those who operates them. Firstly, toilets have to be squeaky clean. Secondly, there should be a separate prayer room for both men and women. Thirdly, each prayer room must have a place for ablution. These are basic facilities which will contribute to Muslims practicing their religion without difficulty.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Merit comes from making right choices

Wednesday September 2, 2009

Musings by Marina Mahathir (The Star Columnist)

Living the faith is not just about avoiding what is prohibited, but more so about doing the right things where morals and ethics are concerned.

IN this month of Ramadan, one naturally focuses on questions of faith. And indeed, with several controversies in the papers, we can’t escape it at all. Every day our lives seem to be increasingly circumscribed until the question of choice in our lives becomes irrelevant.

There are some people in our midst who seem to think that the only way to fulfill our religious obligations is by removing any sort of temptation or challenge in our paths.

Since we are prohibited from drinking, the answer is therefore to remove any form of alcohol from our sight so that we may never have the opportunity to be tempted by it. Or, to disallow young Muslims to attend events sponsored by alcoholic beverage companies. The assumption is that by the mere presence of liquor, we would abandon all inhibitions and imbibe.

This suggests two things. One is that the religious education of the young must be so inadequate that they feel totally uninhibited when faced with what they should know is prohibited.

Secondly, our faith is essentially a weak one since it can never restrain us from breaking rules.

There are other faiths that have food prohibitions as well. Many Hindus and Buddhists don’t eat beef. There are people who take no meat at all. Yet, living in a world of carnivores, where the beef burger is ubiquitous and most people are oblivious of others’ dietary restrictions, they stick to their diets throughout their lives. Do they have stronger faith than Muslims?

I’m trying to imagine a world where our faith is supposedly secured by having absolutely no temptations or challenges at all. We can ban every form of alcohol (including medicinal ones), we can cull every single pig in the land, but does that mean we will be able to float about blissfully certain that we now have a place in heaven?

In countries where alcohol is completely prohibited, an underground system invariably springs up and people drink much more, perhaps because it is illicit.

People who are used to ham made from turkey meat and bacon from beef tend to assume, when they travel to other countries, that all the bacon and ham there are also made from the same meats.

Children who have never seen pigs gush over the cuteness of those little pink animals with the funny snouts.

But faith is about more than just prohibited drinks and foods. It is also about morals and ethics. Every day we are faced with choices that challenge our sense of morality. Do we pay a little extra to the officer in order to expedite our applications? Do we beat the red light, thus endangering other people, just because we are a little late? Do we keep quiet about a mistake we made and let others take the blame?

It is our faith that is going to provide us the answers to these questions. And sometimes these questions can be difficult to answer. Does that mean therefore that we should just get rid of them so that our faith need never be tested?

It would be nice to get rid of corruption completely so that we never have to deal with it. But do we hear of anyone calling for a ban on it? Or mobilising religious officials to catch anyone giving or receiving a bribe?

If our faith directs our way of life, then ethical and moral questions should dog us every day. How is it that those calling for people who drink to be whipped have nothing to say about people who neglect to repay loans? Or who leave their children in destitution? How is it that the voices that bay for rock concerts to be banned are not just as outraged by the existence of the homeless and the hungry?

Faith, as someone said, needs to be exercised regularly. Otherwise it gets flabby. In what way can it be exercised if we think that living in a religious utopia is what we should aim for? Is it better for our faith to be exercised by the trivial rather than the big moral questions of poverty, illiteracy and violence?

God said in the Quran, “if it had been His will, He could indeed have guided you all”. (6:149)

We could all be perfectly good if He had so willed it. But we are given choices because that is how we earn our merits. We have the opportunity to think about what we should do and then decide.

In that way we have the chance to think about what ethics we want to apply in our lives. Take away that choice and we never have to think about morals and ethics. What sort of human beings would we be then?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Have Faith...

Very often students who have ended up in the Teacher Training Institutes said that they are here because their parents want them to. Perhaps they are telling the truth because at this stage of their life, they are still dependent and therefore decisions are still made by parents. Some are happy to be here, irrelevant if it is what they wished for or if it is what their parents desired. However, there are others who are are here filled with resentment and frustrations.

Parents only want the best for their children. To the middle-class and working class society, teaching as a profession is a guaranteed security career-wise. The younger generation, nevertheless, gives little consideration on the matter of career security like parents do. Thus, conflict of interest occurs.

This year marks my 28th year being in the profession. I started off reluctantly, just like many of my students I have encountered and spoken to. Being the youngest in the family, I had to fulfill my parents' wish to have one of their children to be a teacher. The difference is I did not bottle up my anger and frustrations the way some students do today. I learned to accept whatever that came my way, enjoyed my college days, became a teacher and learned to love my work and all the children entrusted to me. I believe my parents' prayers have contributed greatly towards all my achievement and my well-being in this profession.

So dear students, if teaching is in fact your parents' ambition rather than yours, do not be miserable. There must be a very good reason why things have turn out this way for you; why you have ended up in a Teachers Training Institute and not elsewhere. Trust your parents' intuition. Just do your best and leave to God the rest.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Posted to Rural Areas

One of my students who graduated from University Malaya a few weeks ago is posted to an Orang Asli school, 60 km from Sg Siput town. The place has no electricity and water supply, what more a handphone line. To get to the school is either by a four-wheel drive or on a scrambler. To top it, she's the only lady teacher in the school. She fears for her safety and is very unhappy. I said a few words of encouragement to her but I doubt if that made her feel better.

How can any teacher be effective if there is no peace of mind and emotionally unstable? Basic facilities are neccasities which are essential in life. Security is crucial. We can possibly learn to survive with minimal facilities but safety cannot be negotiated. Teachers are sent to these rural areas to educate children. Will they be able to do that when reluctance and anxiety govern them.

Those who are not teachers may not understand the angst of having to face the situation. I am not against fresh graduates to be posted to rural areas but some things should be considered so that their wellbeing is not taken for granted.

To those who face the same state of affairs, I wish you all the best. Through thick and thin, work towards excellence. One day in hindsight, you will smile with satisfaction for surviving what may seem to be the worst experiences in your early career life.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Islamize Politics or Politicize Islam?

Written by Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin
Translation by Umm Hajar

I often call for Muslims to Islamize their politics and not politicize Islam. One may ask, what is the difference between the two? The difference is, when we strive to Islamize our politics we will ensure that our actions and our political missions do not contradict the teachings of Islam. Also, we will attempt to Islamize any un-Islamic political custom. In other words, we will use Islam as the guiding principle of our actions.

On the other hand, Islam is politicized when used as a political capital to secure power. In doing that, Islam is used not as a guiding principle but as a mere justification or ‘halal certificate’ to persuade the society or their followers to accept their actions.

Consequently, one will execute his political mission without referring it first to the teachings of Islam but when his action is questioned, he will manipulate the view or religious texts of Islam to defend himself. In short, Islamizing politics is done by designating Islam as the guiding principle whereas politicizing Islam is done by manipulating Islam in one’s favor using it as a tool or justification.

Therefore, when one assigns Islam as the foundation or guiding principle, he will willingly retract his opinion or apologize for his action if he discovers that it contradicts the teachings of Islam. As for the one who uses Islam as a justification or tool, he will make use of Islam to legalize his political action even though it is undoubtedly sinful.

He is not keen to listen to the concrete evidence or contention provided by syarak for him to apply but instead, he looks for a back-up from the religious authority that is willing to legalize his action even though he realizes that the opinion given to support him is weak and groundless. This is similar to the fanatical clusters and mazhab (school of thoughts) followers who hold on the views of their faction with no concern on strong reasoning and justifications.

Someone posted on my facebook an idea which I don't quite agree with - religion and politics should not be separated. They have to be separated because religion helps us to stay moderate in our actions and words, whereas politics sets no limits to neither our actions nor our words. People should choose to either be politicians or Ulamak and be the best in their fields as a politician or an Ulamak and work hand in hand to ensure that decisions made for any purpose are morally acceptable.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Massive jam

It took me 2 hours 15 minutes to reach my hometown today. Normally it's an hour's drive but the jam was massive everywhere. People either left their work place early to ensure they get back home in time for the terawih or they were heading for their hometowns, like me, to be with their loved-ones to usher in Ramadhan together. Whatever the reason maybe for the massive jam, I'm glad to be home.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Citing of the moon

Today is the citing of the moon to determine whether the Muslims in Malaysia will start fasting either tomorrow or on Saturday. Looking at all the calenders, 1st Ramadhan falls on Saturday. I hope that will be proved true by tonight when the announcement is made on television.
To all my friends who are always grumbling they have put on weight lately, this is the right time to learn to consume less food and reduce the waist length in no time.

Selamat Menyambut Ramadhan al-Mubaraq. Semoga ibadah puasa kita pada tahun ini diterima oleh Allah SWT.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

How time flies

It's going to be Ramadhan soon. How fast time flies. It feels like it was only yesterday the last Ramadhan was here. I'm not complaining...I love Ramadhan. I feel very close to Allah throughout this month, wishing it will never last. Wishful thinking. This year Ramadhan begins when the intra-semester holiday starts. That gives me an opportunity to spend 1 week of fasting with mum at the Kampung. Syukur alhamdulillah...

Lets start the ball rolling

Dear students of J 1.9...
How do you find Social Studies after three weeks of lectures? Interesting? Boring? Intimidating? Tell me what you think about the course and your feelings towards it. Why do you feel as such? Is there any particular reason why you have such feelings towards the subject? Feel free to express yourself and any comments from anyone is welcome. This is just to start the ball rolling.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Being Lucky

It's just good fortune that this one week is officially off from having to go to work. It could not have happened at a better time. I really needed the break. It's unfortunate that some people were sick and possibly contracted the H1N1 but thanks to them, I will be able to get a good rest. It has been hectic since the semester reopened on 22nd June.
To those who contributed to this short-term joy of "holidaying", I sincerely hope everyone has recovered fully. To all my colleagues, hope you rested as well as i did.

Friday, 26 June 2009

lets start blogging

It is interesting that we are able to be a part of the advanced technology. Lets start blogging everyone. Lets share our knowledge so that we can be doubly enriched with everything that we may need to know in order to survive this era.

Thanking everyone in advance.