Thursday, 21 January 2010

Constantine-ous Defiance

I’ve finally succumbed to my eldest daughter’s insistence in watching a movie at the cinema and off the whole family went to catch Alvin and the Chipmunks 2.

(We wanted to see Disney’s "The Princess and The Frog" but, alas, the show’s run had already ended. )

As many would probably agree, the “coming soon” trailer that precedes a movie is part of the fun of going to cinemas as opposed to lounging at home.

Alvin being a kiddie show and all, I was sure the cinema would not let slipped a non PG rated trailer but on came a gold and red armour-suited Robert Downey Jr with a sexy blond atop a building.

Fortunately, the trailer itself was pretty much U rated so there weren’t any awkward “Q&A” or “Eww” moments, and the sisters were more engrossed with popcorn to watch anyway.

I counted my blessing afterwards as they could have well shown “Legion” with its maggoty steak, wall-crawling granny and gun-toting “Angel” – all of which would’ve given them sleepless nights.
Pegg, Simon
By the way, a two-page feature appeared in The Star today on “Legion”.

Am I drawn to watch it? Nope. Never been a great fan of either the theologically slanted nor horror movie genre.

Furthermore, the movie takes itself way too seriously from the brief snips provided by its trailer.

Curious, though, as to how this one slips our usually conservative Censorship Board, but I suspect this is probably due to its Christianity-orientated storyline.

The movie features (if I am not mistaken) two “Angels” - Michael and Gabriel – with the former supposedly defying the coming of the Apocalypse.

It sort of reminded me of Keanu Reeves’ “Constantine” where Gabriel was also a prominent “cast” in the movie based on DC’s Vertigo "Hellblazer" series.

Movies like these will always get you in a bind if you really engrossed into reading between the lines, looking at meanings and picking out symbolism.

Big IF there, actually, since no one – at least hardly anyone I know – goes to movies to search for the meaning of life and what not.

Explaining to the younger ones would however be a far more tedious and difficult task especially if you’re are yourself NOT a 100% solid in your theological (religious) studies.

I suppose people will still watch “Legion”, but some others will be put off with the crass commercialisation of sacred concepts(for want of a better word).

Me? I’d rather sit through Simon Pegg’s excellent “Shaun* the Dead” re-run(s).

No pretense of greatness there, you see.

Just plain wit.

Or twit, in Pegg’s case.

*Not to be mistaken with the hilarious sheep bearing the same name.

The Sheep

Monday, 18 January 2010

Rock Solid Jelly aka A Question on Faith

“Those suffering from illnesses like impotence can be cured if the water in the bowl is consumed.”

When I read the above “news” today, my mind clicked to a totally naïve but innocent question from my daughter on whether the cane wielded by Nabi Musa A.S. was magical.

My answer was that the magic was in fact bestowed by Allah to Nabi Musa A.S. and, no, it wasn’t the cane.

I hoped it was the “right” answer, as she – and countless others of her generation – are being constantly bombarded by tales of magic and what-not by the idiot box and cable television.

For Muslims, believing in things to be magical or have powers is dangerous territory, after all.

The central core of our belief is that Allah is ESA and to equate others/items/beings/things with Allah is SYIRIK; a major sin.

(If I am not mistaken, there is no English equivalent to this word. You can draw your own inferences from this lacuna vis-à-vis the current furor over the use of the word “Allah” in a Catholic Church publication.)

The Malay “mythical” landscape – just like the abovementioned “magical China bowl” – is filled with this dichotomy of thoughts and practice.

I hope it’s more a matter of editing than actual belief, but then again, the article did quote verbatim.

Believing the magic the bowl has is really no different to that of believing that trees, graves and others can produce 4D numbers.

Being born a Malay means that automatically you’re a Muslim.

Unfortunately, this does not mean that you are born into a Muslim family whereby the teachings on Islam would be imparted in the most opportune possible way.

Some may take things for granted, while others simply couldn’t care less that they are Muslims.

How else do you explain the general breakdown in sections of the Malay youths who succumb to social ills?

It is unfortunate that my community tends to be so gung-ho of perceived threats against the religion from external sources but less so of similar threats from within.

Perhaps this explains the response (minority, majority, does anyone care to do a poll?) over that recent High Court ruling.

A fear, helplessness, perhaps (I can’t stressed this word enough), that as a community with less than rock solid Aqidah, we would not be capable to stem sustained onslaught from those intending to propagate beliefs other than Islam.

In things having magical powers, for example.

It's wintry days in New Delhi..

If Allah wills it..

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Flaunt Snubbing

RM40,000 for a limited edition handbag. RM800,000 Merc. RM200,000 wristwatch.

Wow. What a crass, crude show of wealth. Talk about having and flaunting it, eh?

I wonder what was playing on the mind of the editors concerned when they decided to go ahead with this kind of “news”.

Granted, this is showbiz, and flaunting is part and parcel but there are many who are wont to this kind of showy-ness.

Footballer Theo Walcott girlfriend Melanie Slade, for a recent example, turns down a Ferrari he'd given her as a birthday present.

"She was embarrassed her uni mates knew she had a car worth so much when some students struggle to have enough money to eat," quoted the Sun.

You go girl!

Not many people would have done the same. Would you if the same car was presented to you?

(I'd probably sell it off, used the cash to buy something else which is less flashy and put the rest of the money into my ASB.

After all, our punitive duties would mean that the same car is millions here instead of the 140K price tag in the UK. So there is much more moollah to be had if ever a Ferrari is presented to you.

Melanie already drives a Beetle and I supposed for her: a car is a car is another car that gets you places.

Theo is, by the way, an Arsenal and England winger who happens to be amongst those footballers who earns quite a bit, and probably don't really know what to do with all that excess sums of money.

Being philanthropic seemed somehow not so much in the good books of these young millionaires.

Unless, that is, they do so without being seen or being in the limelight.

Something like what Juan Sebastian Veron (the former Man United so-called flop) is currently doing at Argentinian football club Estudiantes.

Showbiz, eh?

Ferrari California

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Barricading Faith

A question of faith
It is not about God belonging to you, rather YOU belong to God.

Yang membezakan akidah Islam dan selainnya bukanlah pada sebutan, atau rebutan nama Allah, sebaliknya pada ketulusan tauhid dan penafian segala unsur syirik.”

Two quotes from personalities you may well label as liberal Muslims (if you must insist on labels, that is) on the furor over the recent decision by the High Court on the right to use the word “Allah”

On Dec 31, Justice Datuk Lau Bee Lan ruled that pursuant to Articles 11 and 12 of the Federal Constitution, the Herald had the constitutional right to use the word in respect of instruction and education of the congregation in the Christian religion.

(The above is taken lock, stock and barrel from The Star.)

I must say that I was – let’s say – “concerned” when I first read the decision.

Subtle machinations to propagate another's faith on Muslims, I thought.

As always, in came politics. Potshots taken by one Muslim "leader" against another. Statements along party lines.

I think we can come to a conclusion that Muslims are now ironically turning very much like a certain perennial “foe” (Go on, take a wild guess..) in having a “besieged” mindset.

Sadly even in a land where Muslims are supposed to be the leading community, we are so often the ones seen backtracking and on the defensive.

Marina (Mahathir) asked if our faith is so fragile that we can be confused so easily.

The answer to that seems to be an unfortunate “YES” if you look at the way we have responded to the issue above.

We are however not unique in being on unsteady grounds.

In Acheh and elsewhere, our fairer counterparts are subjected to harassment based on the way they dress.

Instead of the softer approach of coaxing and guiding on supposed deviations, those professing to know it all where Islam is concerned decided to wield the whip.

Let’s not even go to Pakistan or Afghanistan, or Somalia; nations where shameful acts in the name of Islam are being acted out against those embracing the very same faith.

The worst enemies of Muslims are very much WITHIN in this community of billions.

It is perhaps unfortunate that faith is something so intangible.

Otherwise, everyone can then see how strong each other’s faith is or is not.

I used to have a friend who smokes, drinks, womanize, who doesn’t give a hoot about the daily prayers, bla bla.

Muslim still?

We are back to labels, aren’t we? Good, bad, practicing, liberal, et cetera…

BUT a more pertinent question should be:

What kind of a Muslim was I for letting him continue along the same route of self destruction I so believe to be wrong and the path to damnation?

If his faith was weak, so too, it seems, mine to not have done a single thing to coax, guide, advice, lead.

Weak. Confused.