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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

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Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Living Surah Al Fatihah: Lord of the Day of Judgement

 Living Surah Al Fatihah During Ramadan

M. Bakri Musa


April 10, 2022:  Fourth of Eight Parts:  Lord of The Day of Judgement 


Approximately translated, the fourth ayat of Al Fatihah, Maaliki yaumid deen, means “Master of the Day of Judgment.”


Two problems with interpreting maaliki as master or king. First, that imagery does not reinforce the gentleness and femininity of ar rahman and ar raheem as implied by their root word meaning womb. King or master is always male, and brutal. Second, servants have no choice – obey or else. With Islam, as per Surah Baqarah (2:256), there is no compulsion. To the Sudan-born American scholar Abdullah An Naim, a faith coerced is no faith.


            Another interpretation of maliki would shorten the ma to maa, meaning owner, a difference without meaning as kings were “owners” of their subjects in those days.


            As for yaumid deen (Day of Judgement), ad deen means faith, Islam, together with the associated rituals, prayers, and observances. Extracting from the use of the word elsewhere in the Qur’an, a much broader meaning to ad deen could be deduced, as with norms, established order, or staying within the boundaries laid by Allah in all His scriptures.


            Your Day of Judgement would come when you breach Allah’s boundaries. You do not have to wait for some faraway universal moment when we and all mortals before and after us would be awakened up from our graves and gathered in front of Him to answer for our worldly deeds and misdeeds, a la the mass assemblies of our school days, with God as the powerful headmaster ready to cane in public our errand fellow humans. That would also attribute human qualities to Allah – shirk – the most grievous sin in Islam.


More useful to view the Day of Judgement as a concept. That is, we will be held accountable for our actions. As a student, if you are diligent your day of judgement could come as soon as at the end of the year, as reflected in your excellent test scores and with that, a coveted scholarship. Now that would be heavenly to any student. Not to trivialize Paradise, it was to me decades ago.


            Conversely, if you are promiscuous or engage in risky behaviors as with abusing drugs, then your day of judgement too could come much sooner. Likewise if you are corrupt, as Najib and his fellow UMNO crooks are now enduring.


            As for one’s fate on the Day of Judgement, scriptural-wise, Allah in His Beneficence would tip His hand and give some worldly hints or preview. As per the 14th Century Sufi scholar Ibn Ata Allah al-Iskandari in his Hikam al-Attaiya(The Book of Wisdom), “If you want to know your standing with Him, look at the state He has put you in now.” (Aphorism No: 73.)


            Two centuries later John Calvin echoed Ata Allah, and with that he (Calvin) reformed Christianity giving rise to its fame Protestant work ethics. Western Europe was transformed into a modern capitalistic society that elevated by a quantum leap its citizens’ wellbeing. Like Muslims, Calvin also believed in predestination – your fate is “written in the book” – but he developed that concept further. That is, God in His wisdom would give signs upon those whom He would favor in the Hereafter. With that everyone worked hard to be successful and thus be seen as His “elect,” the chosen ones.


            Same scripture, read differently. I wish Muslims today would heed Ata Allah’s wisdom, to wit, our conditions today would hint of our fate in the Hereafter. It is a perversity defying rational explanation that Muslims would dismiss worldly success; “real” success to these misguided souls would be in the Hereafter. Meanwhile their endure their own hell right here on earth.


            The Australian Imam Tawhidi said it best. If those suicide bombers think that the “other place” would be so much more sublime and that they would be guaranteed a slot, why do their instructors not blow themselves up first? Allah’s most precious gift to us is our life. Belittling that would not be showing syukur (the al hamdu) to Him. The best expression of our gratitude would be to lead a life that would please Him, that is, be of service to our community and fellow mankind, Allah’s insan solehan.


            Former Prime Minister Najib does not have to wait for his qiamat (Day of Judgement). He is enduring hell right now with the public shame and humiliation, as well as knowing that he could spent the rest of his life in a slammer. His bravado cannot conceal his shame and inner turmoil. His days of hell are far from over. Najib had breached Allah’s womb; he is now an aborted fetus.


            The Day of Reckoning is real and could be sooner than we expect it. That should be incentive enough to keep one on the straight path.


Next:  Fifth of Eight Parts:  We Worship Thee Only And Thine Aid We Seek


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