Tuesday 29 December 2015

The Mantle of Victimhood

This is going to be a long read - to last until 2016

Aren't humans ever so clever?  In this 21st century, we have made boundless progress in technology which, for instance, enables me to do what I'm doing now.  We can communicate ideas, emotions, thoughts, knowledge, insults, hatred, bigotry, hypocrisy, self-righteousness and ignorance simply by tapping on a keyboard or switching on to gadgets like TV and smartphones.  However this can become too overwhelming for a geriatric dinosaur like me.

It's coming to the end of 2015.  Here in the cold of Leicester, escaping the heat (political and religious) of my Motherland, I'm so glad to be in my 70s and not living my twenty or thirty something years.  I was talking to a young employee of HSBC in Leicester just last week.  A graduate, he considered himself lucky to have his present job even though the salary was pittance.  It was so low that he was not even 'eligible'  for paying back his study loan.  (You have to earn at least  GBP22,000 per annum before the debt-collector knocks on your door.)

I 'take off my hat' to those Malaysian  graduates who have ignored or reneged on paying back their study loans even though they're living and working in well paid cushy occupations.  What cheek!  ("Apa aku peduli!  After all the politicians are raking in duit haram."  What a pathetic, self-serving excuse!)

I was once told how the Chinese have to pay up all their debts before the advent of Chinese New Year otherwise it will bring sway or bad luck for the following year.  As for Malay-Muslims they are very strict and punctilious about paying up their Zakat and Fitrah - if only they could apply that  principle and stricture to settling their debts and other pecuniary responsibilities before Hari Raya Puasa!!

However for most parts of the world they are in line for a lot more sway coming their way and certainly Malaysia will not be spared.  But this has nothing to do with luck or superstition - it's simply greed, perfidy and more greed.

This being the day after Christmas, we get this extract from the Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas message.

Read the full text  : http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/dec/25/christians-isis-middle-east-archbishop-justin-welby

This fear of Isis and Islamic extremism and distress for the fate of Christians and Christianity (which has also recently echoed in Malaysia) have been bandied about for the last few years by Christian leaders, politicians and has even touched the heartstrings of HRH Prince Charles.

Read : http://anaksihamid.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/prince-charles-prince-among-some-men.html

Apocalyptic suggestions like 'extinction',  'extermination' have been referred to by Christian pressure groups like the Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need.

Academics like Rupert Shortt write about 'Christianophobia' and he states that ''Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world."

Read this : http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/11/05/christianity-could-be-completely-erased-from-middle-east-in-less-than-decade.html

.. and this : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9762745/Christianity-close-to-extinction-in-Middle-East.html

On the other hand in Angola  .......

Is this a church?  Is this a temple?  No, this was a mosque -  demolished by the Government of Angola in 2013

Claiming that Islam was a sect, the African nation of Angola becomes the first country to ban Islam, Muslims and has shut down the mosques in the country.

Concerning the ban, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said Sunday : "this is the final end of Islamic influence in our country."

The above extract is taken from World Bulletin 3 September 2015.

And just for your information :

In addition, Angola is also a a rich hunting ground for Christian Evangelists.  For example,

Such Christian enterprise in Angola and in many other countries and cultures of the planet should at least help reassure those Christianists suffering from "Christianophobia".


Let's flip the coin and consider this:

Firstly, included in the Archbishop's message was another by Britain's chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis

Chief Rabbi Mirvis somehow is quite incapable of seeing the elephant residing in his room.  That elephant is the Judaic-Zionist-Israeli occupation and tyranny in Palestine.  But then, the Christians, the secularists, the agnostics, the atheists, and the neo liberals are also culpable in that very selective oversight and blindness!

Secondly,  here is the gist of this article from Christian News on Christian Today 21 December 2015  by Jeremy Moodey .
Read : http://www.christiantoday.com/article/should.we.really.be.worrying.about.middle.east.christianity/74281.htm

This article outlines five facts to refute all that "doom and gloom".

No 1: It is an exaggeration to say that Middle East Christians face extinction.

No 2: Many more non-Christians than Christians face persecution in the Middle East.

No 3: There is nothing inevitable about Christian flight from the Middle East.

No 4: Islamic extremism is not the only threat to the Christian presence.  I'm quoting this for the benefit of the many ostriches with their heads buried in the sand.

....in historic Palestine, where Christians accounted for over 20 percent of the population in 1948 but now total less than two percent.  But this decline has had very little to do with Islamism.  Three years ago a CBS News report noted that the main reason for the decline was actually the political and economic hardship caused by 45 years of Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.  Israel was so incensed that the Israeli Ambassador in Washington tried to have the show pulled from the airwaves.  Even in Gaza, controlled by Hamas, Palestinian Christians emigration is driven more by the trauma of Israel's eight-year blockade and regular bombardments than by Islamist government.

No 5: Middle East Christians themselves do not want favourable treatment.

Thirdly,  Timothy Seidel's article on "Christianity in Palestine : Misrepresentation and Dispossession".


Here's an extract :

Fourthly, pick and mix your victims.

I've loved  and lived with cats for as long as I can remember.  Whenever they are caught  doing something wrong or stupid (like breaking a plate trying to pinch an extra dinner, or tripping over a shoe, or failing to make a successful jump from the fence) they very quickly recover their dignity by licking themselves and pretending their innocence.     And so for humans too.

Often, in terms of strategy, the best form of defence is not to protest but to attack.  But when one has been responsible for so many wars - the War on Terror, wars for regime change, wars for democracy and human rights (all conducted, implicitly or explicitly, with the blessings of the Religious Establishment) - then it's time to conjure a distraction and a makeover of the Judaeo-Christian image.  Instead of being regarded as the perpetrators .........
Our glorious dead??  Will these (mainly) Muslim children be remembered on Poppy Day?
Squaring the Dead in Afghanistan - 2014

.......  why not turn the fox in the henhouse into a martyr.  Why not convert the guilty into victims?

Let us put on the Mantle of Victimhood.

Do enjoy this video clip from two of my favourite comedians - Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke.  You might be able to note the similarity with the strategy of the New Victims - with the grown-up Harrys of the world.

Fifthly, here's a picture gallery of some truths that have to be acknowledged.

Just one query.  Why 'nonjihadist extremists'?  Why not 'White/Rightwing/Christian extremists'?


3.  A Christmas greeting from a Muslim daughter, Kari Ansari.  (The Huffington Post - Dec 25, 2011)

4.  A bridge builder

The Crusades and the decimation of Christianity in the Middle East

Spreading Christianity then

Spreading Christianity today in Muslim Malaysia ..........

..... where there is so much intolerance of Christmas? ?? !!

9.  And, as for Donald Trump, the future(?) President of the USA, he is only articulating what has always been a covert attitude and practice towards Muslims and Islam in this WASP superpower. The reaction of the West is similar to that of the toddler Harry sans the pee in the pants.

Finally, as a septuagenarian Muslim with one foot in the grave, so to speak, I take heart from the Islam that is mentioned in Islamic Relief's global strategy, whose "values and teachings are provided by the revelations contained within the Quran and Prophetic example.  They are ikhlas (sincerity),  Ihsan (excellence),  Rahma (compassion), Adl (social justice), and Amana (custodianship)".


Here's  Vivaldi's piece to  remind me of the Winter of my Disaffection.



Wednesday 16 December 2015

Lenggang Kangkung di Leicester

What have I been up to since arriving in the spouse's kampung 10 days ago?

It has been a leisurely and peaceful stroll, without (well, not as much as in KL) a care - an absolute lenggang kangkung!  The spouse had a nasty cough and cold for the last 5 days but he's picking up sans any medication, just a good dose of sleep and rest.  As people in Malaysia like to put it - 'no sweat'- literally and figuratively.

This photograph shows the reflection of my refuge on the outside world at 5 am.

I took this photograph just an hour ago, at 5 am.  The rest of Leicester is still asleep but AsH treasures such solitary moments.

So, what have I been up to this winter?

1.  I gave myself a present - a beautifully embroidered picture of clouds, greenery, apple trees in Spring and the top of a stone wall - sewn by our best friend and master embroiderer Jack Marlowe.  Jack is almost 80 and despite his arthriticky fingers, he perseveres with his embroidery and gardening and spoiling his four cats Allegra, Gingerlation, Ichabod and Schtanley.

Read  http://anaksihamid.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/on-se-quitte-toujours-we-always-leave.html 

Jack's Apple Trees.

 And, talking about cats - I miss our three cats very, very much - they define our raison d'etre in Kuala Lumpur.

Rusty - splendour in the grass. 

Socks - the reluctant researcher

Comot loves to take a nap on the printer.
Comot - tired out after helping me with my printing.

2.  Indulging Myself.

My self-indulgent Comestible Corner.

3.  Feeding my mind as well, on my cosy couch.

Book 1: Hundreds of programmes, but less than ten are worth watching.  My latest fad is gratifying myself with old  koboi programmes like The High Chaparral, Gunsmoke, Alias Smith and Jones and Star Trek. Wottalife!!


Book 2:  "Ziauddin Sardar was born in Pakistan and grew up in Hackney.  A writer, broadcaster and cultural critic, he is one of the world's foremost Muslim intellectuals and author of more than fifty books on Islam, science and contemporary culture, including the highly acclaimed Desperately Seeking Paradise."

I've got only as far as Page 91 but here's an excerpt from one of the most touching parts of the book (Page 39-40).

A select group called on Abu Talib again.  How could he allow his nephew to curse their gods, insult their religion, mock their way of life, and accuse their forefathers of error?  Abu Talib was left  in no doubt: "Shut your nephew up or we will."

We now know that the relationship between Abu Talib and his nephew is crucial to the success of his mission and yet curiously paradoxical at the same time.  Everything we know about it indicates a warm bond of affection.  In accordance with the custom of his clan, Abu Talib took Muhammad in as a seven-year-old orphan.  He raised and nurtured the boy, taught him the rudiments of trade and commerce, and exposed him to the wider world by taking him on trading expeditions.  It is thanks to his uncle that Muhammad secured his place in Meccan society.

...........He summoned his nephew.  "Do not put a burden on me greater than I can bear,' he told Muhammad.. 'Spare me and spare yourself.'  Muhammad feared he was about to lose his uncle's protection.  With tears in his eyes, he replied:  'By God if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon on my left  on condition that I abandon this course, I would not abandon it until God has made me victorious or I perish.' As he turned away from his uncle, Abu Talib called Muhammad back: 'Go and say what you please, for by God I will never give you up on any account.'

Abu Talib was not declaring himself a convert.  He was a fond uncle accepting the sincerity of his nephew's cry of conscience, no matter how troublesome or disconcerting that might be to the rest of society.  And what is the paradox?  What Muhammad preached  sought to overturn, indeed to replace entirely the ethos and conventions of tribal solidarity.  Yet it was this very principle extended and guaranteed by Abu Talib that secured Muhammad's personal safety and hence his ability to continue his mission.  It is a paradox of human dynamics, of how the progress of new ideas often rests on the survival of old ways.


Book 3

Yesterday (Tuesday) I made my usual foray into Leicester Animal Rescue (LAR) my favourite charity shop/shopping mall.  I noticed this book "The Making of Britain - The Middle Ages" in a box marked '50p'  just outside the shop.  As I flicked through the pages, I came across page 24 which had the illustrations 'Medieval Islamic scholars at work in a library' and most fascinating of all  'A page  from an Arabic translation of Euclid''!  It was worth 50p and more.

I took it home, skimmed through the contents, and discovered more.

An eleventh century map of the world.  (from page 8).  In this map, the Mediterranean is the centre of the land mass and Jerusalem as the ├žentre of creation'.

This extract from page 9-10 elaborates on this - and provides an interesting facet about the First Crusade:

Intellectually, this view of the world  linked medieval scholars to what they had read of classical antiquity, and to the world of St Paul and St Augustine.  At the same time it shows us how, to them, Christendom seemed hemmed in by heretics and infidels.  It makes us realise why, when Pope Urban II in 1095  called for volunteers from western Europe to go to the help of Christians in the East, it was interpreted as a call to liberate Jerusalem  from the clutches of Islam.

Yet the odd fact is that when the First Crusade set out, Jerusalem had been in the hands of the Moslems for over four hundred years .........  Crusading zeal for the expulsion of the infidel was something quite new in the eleventh century and it was profoundly shocking to native Christians and Moslems of the Near East who for generations had learned to live together in mutual respect.

Alas, history has a way of repeating itself.  And who controls Jerusalem today?


But with all my blessings : with my cats, my books and food on the table and all my home comforts. I cannot obliterate the sufferings of so many in the Middle East and especially in Palestine.

The following image and extracts are from Mondoweiss 13 December.

Friday 4 December 2015

We're off (well, we've been off for years!!)

I've been waiting, or rather, yearning, for this day to come.  The Kafkaesque tribulations of dealing with Malaysian bureaucracy has almost wiped me out.  The last drama was with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.  I put up my hands in despairing surrender and psyched myself into postponing the Great Task to when we get back.

Only the thought of reviving my spirit in the spouse's kampung - in the land of the Kapir -  has kept me on an even keel. There's always Victoria Park in winter -

Victoria Park in Winter

Our little abode ..... working class terrace houses - a far cry from upmarket terraced-suburbia in KL.

Leicester Abode

Kuala Lumpur terraced suburbia

 On Sunday, InsyaAllah, I shall pass through this door ....

.. via the usual house rules ....

.......... and slip away into peaceful quietude - away from cold-faced bureaucrats and copious copies of documents -  into my hideaway.
AsH's mindfield


Back in Britain, I'm quite used (and quite immune) to the political games, hypocrisy, double standards and duplicity of the British rakyat, the culture and the  system.   However Britain is not  the home of my  Malay being. When the greed for power and dosh becomes rampant and toxic in my Tanah Air , it sticks in my craw and saddens my soul.  When will the Malays ever learn?

From Kalong Bunga Buku 1 - DBP 1964

What is needed for Malaysia is a battalion of snake-catchers.

Finally here's a little reminder of how (some) Malays have committed body and soul to build a better life for themselves and their children.  No, it was not a nostalgic trip into the past, way back during the   colonial period.  This was 1982.....

.....when the spouse, as part of his fieldwork, visited KESEDAR Paloh Tiga, Gua Musang.

Image 1

These are not foreign workers - they are Malays.

After a hard day's toil - a well deserved melepak.

A close-up of the signboard in Image 1.


Monday 23 November 2015

Irene and Jailani

Jailani and Irene, my 'two middle aged' youngsters from Singapore braved an eight-hour bus journey from Boon Lay (Singapore) to Setiawangsa for an overnight stay last weekend.  What a lovely sight it was - to hear Salam Aleikum from  these two faces peeping over our gate -  clutching a brown paper bag.

On opening the gate we got hugs and kisses that reeked of hot pisang goring that they had bought from the Abang Goring Pisang at Setiawangsa LRT Station.  But their capacity for sharing was quite commendable.  " Have some pisang goring - it's really yummy," said Irene to Uncle and Miss Hamid!  What more could we ask for eh??

I know this blog is almost comatose.  Like the parrot in Monty Python's sketch, Ash is not "quite dead, demised, passed on, ceased to be, bereft of life, not quite pushing the daisies".  AsH is "resting, stunned and pining" buffeted by the winds of a Kafkaesque bureaucratic drama in the land of my father, my grandfather, great grandfather, great great-grandfather and perhaps right into the ooze and slime of the origins of life on earth.

At times all I can appreciate in my Tanah-Air is the Tanah and the Air. Anything else (other than the wildlife) is pathetic and oppressive.  It has worn me out - wafer-thin.

Well, Jai and Irene were like a breath of fresh air  ( and the aroma of pisang goring).  Not only that, they (especially Jai) nagged and  tormented our dear neighbour - Zarina and Ken  - for "ikan tiga rasa" and Aik Cheong kopi O!  We call such Singaporeans kaki menginding.  Jai has polished this very fine art of mooching (like our cat Rusty) with us when he was a student in Glasgow - hinting at roast chicken with stuffing, sambal pedas ikan goreng and acar ikan kurau.

Zarina succumbed to the harassment and here are two very happy Singaporeans and the two diddies. And just the night before they gave us really succulent Satay from AU3!

Smiles and Smiles of Food! This included a bonus dish of Kurma Ayam.

Here they are: our long-suffering Zarina and Ken and their two boys Haiqal and Daniel.

Jai  has invited Zarina and family to stay with him whenever they visit Singapore.  We know Jai is a very hospitable host. Zarina will have full use of his kitchen and Irene will prepare the Menu  for each day of their stay.

I must say I felt so much better after this weekend because I can now paint six wonderful people onto the landscape of my Tanah-Air.  Thank you all.


Last, but not least there's Lely.

One day Lely, one sweet day, we will revive those halcyon days at Setiawangsa - to a Setiawangsa "cluttered with books and buffered by greenery" , according to Jai.

You are always here , in spirit - with us.