Spiritual Transformation in Daily Life by means of Remembrance Gratitude and Love by Dr.Alan A. Godlas, 4 August 2007
A few of SIS members recently attended an enlightening session on spiritual transformation with Dr Alan A. Godlas , and he has graciously accepted our invitation to have a discussion at our office. You may find his work as detailed in his biography below to be very interesting. Thus, although this invitation may come at a very short notice, we hope you'll not miss the opportunity to meet him.
Dr. ALAN GODLAS is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Georgia. He is the director of the UGA Virtual Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Islamic World (VCISIW) and is the Co-Director of the UGA-Morocco Maymester program. At UGA he teaches Islamic Studies and Arabic courses (and sometimes Persian and Ottoman Turkish) as well as a survey course on the world's religions. Dr. Godlas is on the steering committee for the UGA Center for Asian Studies, and he is also a member of the Linguistics faculty, the Medieval Studies Program (link fixed 20 August, 2005), and the African Studies Program.
________________________________________________________________________________________ The Legalism and Symbolism of Islamic Law- An Examination of Syariah as Law and Symbol of Political Identity by Dr. Anver Emon, 9 July 2007
It is interesting to hear from Dr Emon about how Muslim jurists constructed rights traditions, by using a comparative approach to define "right" in a thin, legalistic fashion, and present an argument to translate the term conceptually into the Islamic legal framework. Dr Emon also explained on the way Syariah has been used as both: for rule of law, and political symbol of identity. Examples are drawn from Pope's Regensberg speech, the Danish cartoons controversy, and the Afghan apostate case to show how all sides to the debate used Islamic Law in ways that do not use Syariah as a rule of law system.
Dr. ANVER M. EMON is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, specializing in Islamic Law and teaching first-year torts at the University of Toronto. He is also cross appointed to the Centre for the Study of Religion. Anver's research focuses in on medieval and modern Islamic legal theory and history. His general academic interests include law and religion, legal history (medieval European and Islamic), and legal philosophy. His current research project concerns the Islamic legal philosophical traditions and the treatment of non-Muslims under Islamic law. He is called to the California State Bar. He has published articles on topics such as Islamic Constitutionalism, Islam and democracy, and the more recent on natural law and natural rights in Islamic law. Currently he sits on the board of the Journal of Law and Religion.
Rainbow Feminisms of a women on many different Faiths by Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung, 8 June 2007
Dr. Chung talked about her knowledge and struggle as a Buddhist-Christian eco Feminist theologian with us. In her discussion, she elaborated in depth about her effort to transform what has been term as "Clash of Civilization" to " Dialogue of Civilizations" among women of different faiths including secular humanist. Dr. Chung also talked about historical maps and developments of various feminist theologies in Christianity and Buddhism.
Assoc. Prof. CHUNG HYUB KYUNG, graduated from Ewha Women's University in Seoul with the B.A. (1979) and the M.A. (1981). She holds the M.Div. from the School of Theology at Claremont (1984), a diploma from the Women's Theological Center in Boston (1984), and the Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary (1989). She is a lay theologian of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, as well as once having become a temporary Buddhist novice nun. In 1999, she lived for a year in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas studying mediation. Now she is in the process of becoming a dharma teacher at the Kwan Eum Zen School in New York City. She first came to international attention in 1991, when she made a now famous speech– a feminist/Asian/ Third World interpretation of the Holy Spirit–at the World Council of Churches in Canberra, Australia. She defines herself as a "salimist" (Korean Eco-feminist) from the Korean word "salim," which means "making things alive."
Islam, Culture, Place: Some observations by a writer and anthropologist by Camilla Gibb, 17 January 2007
Ms Camilla Gibb talked about her latest successful novel Sweetness in the Belly (combination of history and fiction) which is told from the perspective of Ethiopian Muslims living as refugees in London, England. The novel is based on her work as an anthropologist in Ethiopia, Canada and England, and explores some of the challenges one faces as a Muslim in a non-Muslim land. The book gives a sensitive account of an Ethiopian Muslim woman who lives in exile in the UK. Apart from touching on the existing prejudices and human rights issues, Ms Gibb also highlighted the commonalities amongst people which transcend religion and culture.
CAMILLA GIBB was born in London, England, and grew up in Toronto, Canada. She completed her Ph.D. in social anthropology at Oxford University in 1997, and spent two years at the University of Toronto as a post-doctoral research fellow before becoming a full-time writer. She is also an expert on the Middle East and writes on Human Rights issues. She is the author of three novels, including Mouthing the Words: winner the City of Toronto Book Award in 2000; and Sweetness in the Belly: short listed for Canada’s most prestigious award, the Giller Prize, winner of the Ontario Trillium Award, and currently long listed for the 2007 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Chinese Muslims in Malaysia - History and Challenges by Rosey Ma, 8 February 2007
How much do we know about the history of Islam in China? Is it true that the first Arab/Persian/Turkish Muslims became a Chinese ethnic group in China? How much do we know about the presence and influence of Chinese Muslims in the South East Asia? In Malaysia? Are all of them Muslim converts? How does one define the Chinese Muslim in Malaysia today?
ROSEY WANG MA is an independent academic researcher and writer on various aspects of Chinese Muslims communities, to share her knowledge, views and experience with us. Of HUI parentage herself, she was raised in Pakistan and Turkey. She was a French language lecturer for more than twenty years before taking up a career in Education Counselling. She still conducts education training programmes. At the moment she is pursuing doctorate studies at ATMA, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
"Understanding the Nature of Religious Hate Discourse: Why Context Matters in the Working of Conspiracy Theories" by Dr.Farish A.Noor, 7 January 2007
When addressing the question of 'Who speaks for Islam?' the question can also be posed otherwise: It is not so much the case of who speaks for Islam, but rather who is listened to. Why have some voices become more dominant and why have others been sidelined or silenced? Does this have more to do with the subject -position of the speakers themselves and how they are seen in the wider public context? In the Muslim world today the struggle for discursive legitimacy and the right to speak on Islamic issues is defined not only by access to knowledge and information, but also by the subject-position of the speakers/authors themselves. Much of the ground-setting that goes into the articulation of religio-political discourse is and has been configured by external variable factors including the relationship between the speakers themselves and their relations to power and the constellation of power on a domestic and international level. We therefore need to look at how the configuration of power-relations helps as well as inhibits the freedom to speak on Islam and determines the validity/authenticity of what is being transmitted by those who engage in debates on religious issues. In this light, conspiracy theories - including claims of collusion, co-optation and partisanship - have an immediate effect on those who wish to engage in the debate on the norms and praxis of popular religiosity today.
DR. FARISH A. NOOR is a Malaysian political scientist, historian and human rights activist who has been researching the phenomenon of political Islam and transnational religio-political networks across the Indian Ocean .. He was a researcher at the Centre for Modern Orient Studies, Berlin , and a fellow at the Institute for Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Malaysia , and the Institute for Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), UKM. He has taught at the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, Universiti Malaya, and the Institute for Islamic Studies, Freie University of Berlin. He is the author of Islam Embedded: The Historical Development of PAS 1951-2003 (MSRI, 2004) and New Voices of Islam (ISIM, 2002). He used to write a column entitled Crosscurrents in the New Straits Times , The Other Side in Sin Chew Jit Poh and The Other Malaysia on Internet daily Malaysiakini. He is currently based at the Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin , Germany .
Islam and Polygamy by Zaitun Kasim, Sisters in Islam on 20 October 2000
A Comparative Study Between the Quranic Verses and a Traditional Text Book on Women in Islam Referred to by Sekolah Pondok by Dr Saodah Abdul Rahman, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) on 22 September 2000
SIS Showcase: Divorce Iranian Style by Ziba Mir Hosseini on 12 August 2000
Anti Women Hadiths by Nik Noriani Nik Badli Shah, Sisters in Islam on 28 July 2000
Dress and Modesty in Islam II by Sisters in Islam on 26 May 2000
Dress and Modesty in Islam I by Sisters in Islam on 21 April 2000
Islam and Equality II by Sisters in Islam on 24 March 2000
Islam and Equality I by Sisters in Islam on 17 February 2000
Projecting the preferred image - The Star - Musings
Deliberately causing problems to solve a problem is an entirely ingenious idea, like blocking the Penang Bridge just to show how inconvenient a demonstration can be.
SINCE the subject has come up so often recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about our country’s image.
In the first place, why do we even think anyone else spends much time thinking about us? And secondly, when they do, why do we even care?
Obviously we do care since we seem obsessed with it.
And the main reason seems to be that if we did not have a good image in the eyes of foreigners, they won’t invest in us or visit us and therefore we’ll become poor.
Our standard of living, therefore, depends on what people think of us.
It rather reminds me of those days, when some people said we should not have any public campaigns on HIV/AIDS in case foreigners think we DO have the epidemic here and therefore won’t come.
We never thought that maybe foreigners might think better of us if we admitted we might have a problem but we are doing something about it, rather than be yet another country which prefers to sweep things under the carpet.
When it comes to the image of a country, it really depends on who you talk to.
Of course, we should be proud that we are almost a developed country with almost first-world facilities: great airport, great roads, good shopping malls.
We also have fantastic food and fairly hospitable people, especially to foreigners with money.
We may not be very nice to those without money, such as migrant workers and refugees, but we don’t care about them.
Unless, of course, their governments decide to stop sending domestic workers and we face the grim prospect of having to clean our own toilets.
On the other hand, we seem pretty unconcerned when our image gets a battering all round the globe for attempting to whip women for drinking in public, actually whipping them for having babies out of wedlock, forming clubs for obedient wives and sexually harassing women for allegedly breaking immigration laws. Or declaring poco-poco haram in one state out of 13.
I guess we don’t mind people laughing at us, as long as they still spend their money here.
So image, just like justice in this country, is a moving target.
It’s whatever we make it out to be.
While we complain about men who ride their motorbikes dangerously on the streets when nothing is happening, when we need them we simply put red T-shirts on them and call them patriots.
We should really send them to international conventions overseas as patriotic examples of Malaysian citizens. They must surely do wonders for our image.
We should also send those fine people who blocked the Penang Bridge the other day just to show how inconvenient a demonstration is, to conferences on innovative ways to solve problems.
Surely, deliberately causing problems to solve a problem is an entirely ingenious idea!
Yes, Malaysia’s people, especially its leaders, really do wonders for our image overseas.
Apparently as a moderate Muslim country, we have absolutely no qualms about behaving just like the less-than-moderate ones, the ones who are quite happy to turn thugs and tanks onto their own people.
We jeer at Western hypocrisy that supports tyrants and dictators when it suits them, but we don’t seem to be much different ourselves.
Our image of ourselves must sometimes mirror the image of those we want to attract.
We want to attract the deep-pocketed tourists from the Middle East and China, governments who also don’t look kindly on demonstrations.
Therefore, not tolerating demonstrations here is just part of our marketing strategy, just like providing airport announcements in their languages, encouraging little Arab villages in the middle of the city and other amenities to make them feel at home.
Perhaps we should mention it in our travel ads: “Come and shop in Malaysia.
“We shall ensure nothing will block your route to the malls”.
Our leaders are such intellectual giants that the concept of freedom and human rights has been distorted and diminished to only mean freedom and the right to shop and make money.
I love it when certain leaders defend their right to shop in places they have not stepped into for decades.
The sudden concern for the petty traders, mostly foreigners, who have not benefited from their wallets all this time, is so touching.
So it depends whose image we want to emulate.
In developed countries, millions can march peacefully and nothing happens to the economy.
In fact, their economies have been devastated more by smart-suited bankers than any street demo against the ensuing austerity drives.
Perhaps, in defining patriots and traitors, we should look at suits rather than T-shirts.
Sisters in Islam views with concern the prosecution for incest of a 17-year-old girl, by the Kelantan Syariah Court. There is an assumption here that the daughter, considered a minor under civil law, is a willing partner in committing the crime of incest.
The daughter initially pleaded not guilty and had defended herself. However, the next day, after a discussion with her mother via telephone during a break in the trial, she thereafter pleaded guilty to the charge of incest. The court bound her over to be of good behaviour for one year with her mother standing surety. Since her mother has failed to post the bond of $1,000, the girl was sentenced by the court and committed to a rehabilitation home for one year.
While we welcome the Court's use of its discretionary powers in not allowing the publication of the girl's name and its decision not to imprison the girl, Sisters in Islam would like to raise some issues of concern, socially and legally, in the handling of this case. Important issues which need to be considered:-
* Is the girl a victim or a willing partner in the commission of the crime of incest? What was the evidence that led to the assumption of guilt against the girl and the decision of the Syariah Court to prosecute her? Even if it was felt that the girl was a willing partner, due to her young age and the perpetrator was a figure of authority and control, questions should arise as to the voluntary nature of her act. She could have been a victim of child abuse, or she could have committed the act under duress or coercion by the father.
* What are the safeguards that exist to ensure that her guilty plea was indeed genuine? The fact that the girl had at first pleaded not guilty and then changed her plea after speaking to her mother by telephone, the fact that the girl was in tears after this conversation, that her mother was not in court to give her support, should raise some concern and questions about the circumstances of her guilty plea.
* Given the nature of the crime and the relationship involved, should the Court exercise its discretionary power and request for further information to ascertain if a charge should in the first place be made against the girl? Could the Court take the parties into chambers to discuss the matter and advise the prosecution to withdraw the charge or order that the girl be discharged after due advice?
* Conflict between two parallel legal systems: The girl is a minor under civil law (under 18 years of age). However, under syariah law she is considered a "baligh" (one who has attained the age of puberty) and therefore a "mukallaf", one who is of right mind and therefore able to distinguish between what is good and bad and therefore take responsibility for her actions. Under syariah law, once a girl begins menstruation, she is considered an adult and therefore liable to a prosecution for illicit sex. Today, a girl may reach puberty at nine years of age, but does that mean she is mature enough to be held responsible for her actions? Under civil law and in society's eyes, she is a mere child. What provisions exist under syariah law to protect the interest of children and young persons against crimes perpetrated by adults in positions of authority and control over their well-being?
* We welcome the court's willingness to apply its discretionary powers and consider the provisions provided in the civil law, more specifically the Juvenile Courts Act, 1947 (“JCA”) in respect of the non-publication of the girl’s name/identification (s. 5A of the JCA) and in binding her over to be in good behaviour for one year. We wished, however, that the court could also have used its discretionary powers in considering the girl a juvenile instead of an adult and accord her the procedures provided for under the JCA.
* In what way was the girl's interest protected in the handling of this case? Under the JCA (s. 10), such a case would be referred to a Probation Officer who would provide the Court with information as to the girl's general conduct, home surroundings, school record, medical history so as to enable the Court to deal with the case in the best interests of the juvenile. The Juvenile Court will also not hold a hearing without the report of the Probation Officer. Moreover, the court is assisted by two advisers, one of whom is a woman, whose duty it is to inform and advise the court with respect to any consideration affecting the punishment or other treatment of any child or young person brought before it (s. 4(2).
* Should the confession of a father to the crime of incest be used as a mitigating factor to prosecute the victim, a minor under the protection and control of an authority figure who is also the pepetrator of the crime? Even if there was overwhelming evidence against both the father and the daughter and the fact that the father admitted to the charges, the Syariah Court must give due consideration to the fact that the victim is the daughter and a minor.
* Given the reality of present day society where girls begin menstruation at a much younger age, shouldn't the religious authorities review the definition of “baligh” and the assumption of “mukallaf” to determine whether a young person can be held responsible for her actions. Even if the daughter in this case did consent to such an act incest, society would question the circumstances of her family life and relationship that could enable such an act to happen. These must be regarded as mitigating factors.
1. Kelantan Enakmen Keterangan Mahkamah Syariah 1991 (Kelantan Evidence Enactment of the Syariah Court, 1991)
2. Enakmen Kanun Jenayah Syariah, tahun 1985, Negeri Kelantan
(Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code Enactment 1985)
3. Enakmen Acara Jenayah Syariah No. 9/83, Negeri Kelantan