Sunday, January 30, 2011

Of Jerusalem, Middle East and Malaysia

When we look at the spiritual context of religions, we will be amazed that nothing is really uniform. It is perpetuated when we humans are blessed with intelligence (and soul). We want for ourselves to reap the benefit and we are able to think for ourselves unlike the animals. That distinct trait sets us apart from the instinct-driven beast – the animals.

I recently read an interesting article on how our country is doing to maintain the dominancy of the dominant sect – the Sunnis [Source : The Sun Newspaper]. It is no wonder that even in times of peace, there will be clashes among people of the same religion. Middle East is divided because of the sectarian factor. Iran and a majority of Iraqis are from the Shia sect while almost the rest of the Middle Eastern region is from Sunni. So it is no surprise when Iranian neighbors were calling for it’s destruction and so forth. [Source : Wikileaks]

This article of mine, will provoke some clear displeasure among some readers of mine, but let us all think and read this article with a clear mind and that this is just my opinions and my opinions are never truly right. I am just a University student whose major widely differs from what I am writing about. However, I have strong interest in international relations and wrote a number of articles for university but just too shy to publish them all.

Do not continue reading this piece if you have a narrow mind.

One of the holiest of holiest places on earth, the epicenter of war, the place fought by many and the most sacred place – The Jerusalem.

"Whoever did not see Jerusalem in its days of glory, never saw a beautiful city in their life."

(Talmud: Succah 51b)

For the Muslims, for the Jews, it is one of the most sacred places but indirectly it had been transformed into a nest of conflicts. From the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonians to the Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, the caliphates till the present day, not once has it not been the center of occupations and conquests.

The problem lies with the religious view that during the biblical times, the land was given by the God to the Israelites. Nevertheless, it was not until the Byzantines emperor, the Constantine converted to Christianity and Christianity was proclaimed as the state religion that Jerusalem thrived due to pilgrimages and sort.

When the Muslim conquered the land, it was transformed into a sacred place because of the building of a mosque with material said to come from the time of Prophet Muhammad. After the sacking by the Crusaders and the conquest by the Ottoman Turks, it had turned itself into the real center of warfare and it escalated after the 1948 Arab-Israel War where Israel annexed East Jerusalem from Jordan. [Source : Jewish Virtual Library]

This is one of the many reasons how the enmity between Arab world and Israel started. Of course when we view them from other standpoint, we can note that since the early days, Muslim does not recognize the existence of Israel. We are ought to know that due to the many conquests by invaders, the Israelites were left with no land. Along the course of time, Israel received back some parcel of lands but it did not match the one they had during the ancient times. After a series of war, they got more than they had (example, Golan Heights annexed from Jordan during Yom-Kippur War) and this made Israel the target of international criticisms.

It was made worst by Israel settlers that illegally settled on Palestinian land because they believe that the land was theirs as it was part from the ancient Israel land. The non-compromising stance left Palestinians with no choice but to fight back like the Israel used to do to get back their land. The solution is actually simple, just give back the land or compromise by giving part of the undeveloped but viable land as an exchange.

The Israel need to return the land back to the rightful owner because a house is like a property, and imagine one day, your house was seized unrightfully, would you fight back or leave as it is?

Greed permeates in politics. Who would want to surrender their conquered land back to the losers? Politicians from both sides refused to compromise or give way and this makes the conflict continues. I believe peace in the Middle East will be restored only when the land of Israel and Palestine are rightly given to the rightful people and agreed by everyone. The longer the siege of Gaza and the continuation of occupation by the Israel, the longer the damage will be done and irreversible.

Nevertheless, the Muslim countries ought to recognize Israel as a rightful state because the country is constituted by people believing they are the people of Israel. Locally, it is the same as in East Timor where the nation was created by the people who seek independence from Indonesia. In Malaysia, if we depended on history, there are two scenarios that might happen. Either our country will grow bigger or shrink. If we rely on history, since the Malacca sultanate, the empire extended until Indonesia. Therefore through this history, we might as well say Indonesia is our country and vice versa too. We might too give up Malaysian state of Sabah to the Philippines if they are to say it belonged to the former Sulu Sultanate that once ruled Philippines. Therefore, we have no right to claim anything as ours based on old history.

History, like what many historians had said, is written by the victors. There is more history to be unraveled but the histories told by the losers were completely erased through the course of time. The land belongs to the people and must not be based through mere history. If humans originated from Africa, does it mean each of us deserve the right to say this land is ours?


The view that sensitive issues are not meant to be discussed openly is wrong. Humans mature through opinions and learning from mistakes. In Islam, it has different groups, the most dominant one is Sunnis while the other is Shia. For the Sunnis, they have Hanbali, Maliki, Shafie and Maliki school of thought. [Source]

This is equally equal for Christianity (ex Catholics, Protestant) and Buddhism (ex Mahayana, Theravada). With so many variety of groups and each and every sometimes claimed to be better than the rest. The reason was why some countries usually do not develop as quickly as it seemed due to religious differences. During the reformation years, Christians fought among themselves because of the split in the church. It was divided into Protestants and catholic. Same goes to the Muslims because after the death of Prophet Muhammad, Islam was divided into two groups.

The irony part about being humans is that we still have the animal instinct to maintain our mark even after death. Animals procreate to ensure the survival of the generations while humans preach to ensure the survival of the religions. How do we call ourselves different when we still behave almost exactly like animals?

The freedom of religion in Malaysia is guaranteed in the Malaysian constitution. But of late, it had been breached. Our constitution, though a constitution, maintains the basis of basic human rights and equality. As a new young nation eager for independence, the constitution was drafted in a hurry with the hope that one day, when our nation matures; the people will rightly retouch the misbalance of it.

I fear that when we returned, we find ourselves being judged based on our religions and races. I fear when we do not grow forward as a country but instead being too preoccupied in petty things like religion, prosecutions of non-followers and political opponents. The Muslims in Malaysia, I believe are equally intelligent to achieve success without the need of support from the government.

The thing that needs to be done to help the poor Malay Muslims are to ensure they receive a competitive or good early education at a young age. They do not need NEP (New Economic Policy) that distributes AP (Approve Permits) to only the rich, they do not need MARA schools that curtail their competitive spirits and they definitely do not need multi billion dollars Malay conglomerate that do not really play a role in helping the Malays.

They need education and not NEP. How can we unite the country when our country is itself divided and everything is based on non meritocracy? The non-Malay origins too lose out in meritocracy if they do not work hard. So if we instead provide some help by giving top notch education to the students regardless of ethnicity, they regardless of races will be appreciative and feel that they are really, truly blessed citizens of Malaysia.

Sometimes, I find it funny to know that even when I am born in Malaysia, I am still being called non-bumiputera (non-native). [Source : Malaysian Constitution] If I am a non-native, which country do I originate from? China? Korea? After 54 years of independence, even when my mum and dad are Malaysians, I am still a non native. There are too people fighting to maintain their so called special rights but don’t we, Malaysians but of a different ethnicity deserve an equal rights? How about a fair chance in entering certain schools like MARA, just simply for a better education?

Sadly some people say no and protested. Instead when they graduated from that school, they wish to get into foreign top universities (when given the opportunity) where they too will have to compete with people of different races (and different nationalities). How ironic sometimes. We need to have the confidence to achieve success in life. We might fear of falling at first but ups and downs are just part and parcel of life.

Nevertheless, I am a supporter of a single school system. A school where students are reading the same books and materials. However, it is too early to be implemented and if it is been done, either the quality of the books will go up due to the increase in standards or down because of the need to consider the Indigenous people’s scholastic ability. When the indigenous people are able to compete fairly and are not due to distance and poverty like in the past, then one school for everyone.

Besides, instead of sending students overseas under Government scholarship, why not we bring the education closer to home. Built universities, internationally renowned ones and bring the best brains to teach here. We don’t lose out too because we have “fixed investment”. Instead of relying on teachers for rural schools, why not we make government scholars do some short stint in rural areas teaching language, mathematics and science. Let the scholars inspire the rural and indigenous students that they too can be like them if they work hard and at the same time, we do not waste the money sponsoring the scholars.

The scholars definitely do not need to work there for long but the experience is really long lasting. I prefer having a scholar with humanity than a scholar with great academic results. Great academic results will not leave a mark on this earth, but a scholar with humanity will leave a mark. A mark on the people he helps.
I hope Malaysia can really change. Lets start small and achieve big.

“But while we think of the past, we look forward in faith and hope to the future; from henceforth we are masters of our destiny, and the welfare of this beloved land is our own responsibility: Let no one think we have reached the end of the road: Independence is indeed a milestone, but it is only the threshold to high endeavour-the creation of a new and sovereign State…”

Tunku Abdul Rahman – Proclamation of Malaysian Independence [Source]

*I am a government scholar (sponsored by Korean government). After staying overseas for long, somehow, it changes how I think. I hope every people will share the same inspiration and belief of a better country for their citizens. I sincerely apologize if it unintentionally offends anyone.*

I am the master of my destiny, the captain of my future.

The End.

Source worth reading:


Anonymous said...

hellom I'm from the middle East " from Egypt actually", and I agree with what you said about the Arab-Israeli war and the solution. Happy to read so from non-Arab person :)

nutz_hana said...

hye, nice blog to read. i just accidently bump into ur blog..
i was looking for a traveller blog to korea since its in my plan.. yet this post interest me the most.
your such a lucky person to get a scholar yet it was my dream b4 this.. (which i didn't get it).. however as what u say is tru that its beeter having a thoughtful scholar rather than a scorer scholar.. sometimes i wonder if it is better to have a scholar that would do some changes to Malaysia..
anyway, keep up with good post and pic too..:) hoping got a chance to step my feet to that lovely country...:)

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