Posted in Religion

An Introduction for Al-Kahf Series (1): The Age of Fitan

Just imagine. There used to be a beautiful garden with huge shimmering green trees. When you look at the garden, it was just astonishingly gorgeous. Those green vivid color were stunning and had struck in your eyes. But later on, those garden burned down by some people who just passing by. The garden vanished, completely gone. Now it has been several decades since then. After that, all people talked this burned down garden. Over and over. The garden becoming a part of some fairy tales that a mother used to tell to her children before they fall asleep. Can you imagine what garden that is?

That garden is our beloved Islamic civilization. Moslem people kept talking about reviving those epics, we wondered what kind of age we have in our golden utopia. But that’s it. We just stopped by wondering those kinds of nostalgia things. Since those “garden” burned down, we just kept talking, talking and talking for several decades! We have made a habit talked about the problems in our society and the funny thing is that we want that “garden” re-appear instantaneously. Just like those singing contest in our society – raising an instant star!

Moreover, because of the internet, many information could mislead people and thus they became deceived. People disunite, they are battling each other now in our own ranks. All these years, those tireless debates over fiqh, government policies, and even sectarian conflicts. It is just too much.

In the process of analyzing Surah al-Kahf we are led to the conclusion that the world now exists in so-called The Last Age, and that are the dominant actors of the modern age are Dajjal, the false messiah! This is a conclusion of tremendous importance since it confirms that we now live in an age that is deceptive, godless, oppressive and fraught with unprecedented dangers and peril (Hosein, 2007).

THIS is difficult indeed. Simply being said, we conclude that we are living in the time of “FITNA” or “difficult test”.

In this time, your faith may easily be shaking and you may have doubt on your heart regarding your own religion. You want to believe firmly in your faith but the condition is just so devastated. Faith,  ﷲ  said in the Qur’an, will be tested, no matter when or where you are living. Let’s take a look an ayah from Qur’an as follows.

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ

Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tested? (QS. 29:2)

Nowadays we used the word fitna (ف ت ن) in a negative sense. Fitna referred to difficulty or test and also using it for “attacking”. The Arabs used the word fitna when one tribe want to attack the other tribes. In the other hand, fatanna was used in Arabic when you purify gold. It is extremely difficult and time-consuming process. It requires an extremely high-temperature process so that you can melt the gold and control their carats (purity). Only through that process you can tell how pure that gold is. A way to testing the purity of gold, that’s the origin of the word fitna.

Have you ever wondered how the companions kept their faith firmly through their hardship and difficulties? Can you imagine? Their faith had been tested so that the “gold” inside them can be purified. Their hearts have been purified by those test! The “gold” inside represent our Faith, our “Imaan”.

Thus, fitna can be understood as a way of testing our “al-iman”.

We have to understand the reality now we are living. Fitna in the old days and nowadays is different in many ways but the same in principle. The world we are living obviously different. The only similar thing is that Allah will test “al-iman” regardless when and where we are now living.

Back to the first story. Remember those garden before?

What would have happened if those people planting the seeds instead talking about the garden that had been burned down for decades?

The most important thing now is investing in our own people. Planting the seeds, build the people. Imagine if our society has minimum education in Qur’an study. When you take salah or recite the Qur’an, you are not only read it by your lip, but also understand it. Your mind becomes “literate”. And deep down, your heart shift to a condition of tranquility. Warm and secure. It feels as those ayah written down in your own heart.

As I try to begin to write all of these writing, I firmly hold my intention to comprehensively spread the warning of this so-called Age of Deception. In the end, I try as humble as possible, because of my own limitation for such certain knowledge in Islamic higher learning. Before I am going in depth with the Surah Al-Kahf, hopefully, this introduction can give us the insight to go deeper.

So, I just want to say, “let’s open up our insight and broaden up our mind. Because we are facing the Age of Deception, Age of Fitan as narrated by several scholars of Islam in many hadiths.

Anyway, “Welcome to the Akhiruz-Zaman!”

May Allah guide us against this age!

اَللَّهُـمَّ إِنيِّ أَعوُذُ بِكَ مِنْعَذاَبِ جَهَنَّمَ،وَمِنْ عَذاَبِ الْقَبْرِ وَمِنْ فِتْـنَةِ الْمَحْياَوَالْمَماَتِ وَمِنْ فِتْـنَةِ الْمَسيِحِ الدَّجاَّلِ

O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the punishment of the grave, and from the punishment of Hell-fire, and from the trials of life and death, and from the evil of the trial of Dajjal the False Messiah.

Reference

Hosein, I. N. (2007). Surah Al-Kahf and The Modern Age. San Fernando: Masjid Jami’ah.

http://www.studyquran.co.uk/PRLonline.htm

Posted in Religion

Lost in Translation

Well, facing the language which is totally different from our culture is a tough job for us. It is kinda hard especially when you are living in the foreign country with totally different in language and culture. *well I hope I can improve my skill in this field in several languages*

lost in translation.png
image from: http://www.thearabicvoiceover.com/translation/

If you give someone or a group of people some information, there is a possibility that they didn’t receive your message clearly. Sometimes it causes misunderstanding which triggers conflicts. And you don’t feel ease when you are in a middle of a conflict. It is irritating. I really mean it.

Globalization, in fact, as the internet has been used widely, made people easily shared any information. Perhaps a good one. But, again, in fact, it is not. Arguably, in Indonesia, this type of problem (phenomenon?) is spreading like diseases.

We are drowning in information, without knowledge to transform it into our benefits.

It can’t be helped, though. Translating information from any media is just like translating foreign literature. We should measure its information with a certain parameter so that the information can be received flawlessly. It is a tough job for a translator who delivered their translation beautifully without losing its meaning and root of its culture.

The problem whenever you translate some words or sentences is its equivalency. The concept of equivalence is believed to be a central issue in translation although its definition, relevance, and applicability within the field of translation theory still causing controversies (Kashgary, 2011). This notion has always been used in a fuzzy sense. Language is influenced by the culture and its political history. Ancient language ceased to extinction mainly because of politics.

English and Arabic belong to two different cultures and hence, provide evidence for translating what is sometimes referred to as “untranslatable” due to lack of equivalence. In one way or another, Arabic is rich in culture-specific terms,mainly influenced by Islam and also concepts that have no equivalents in English.

“We will often find that there is no exact equivalence between the words of one language and the words of another” (Larson 1984:57). Lack of equivalence among languages at lexical, textual, grammatical or pragmatic level is a common fact and a problem which is always encountered by translators (Raof, 2001).

To translate a sacred text, one must consider many things. For the Qur’an, a translator doesn’t only need a sound linguistic competence in both Arabic and English, but also an advanced knowledge in its syntax and rhetoric in order to appreciate the complex linguistic and rhetorical patterns of Qur’anic structures as a proof for the beauty and majestic in its message.

Although Qur’an using Arabic as a basic language, its usage differs from a casual conversation among Arabic people. However, aside from the linguistic competence, for a sacred and highly sensitive text like the Qur’an, the translation cannot escape the trap of exegetical inaccuracies. A translated Qur’an will have new structural, textural and rhetorical features ad hoc to the target language.

As a message to humanity, the process of Qur’anic translation is one of major positive contribution and a magnificent promotion to cross-cultural understanding. Because sometimes, even you are in Muslim countries, the message tends to bias. It is mainly because we fail to share the message of Qur’an. We fail to provide the beauty and the majestic nuance in it.

When we fail to deliver its message, ﷲ in the Qur’an said,

قَالَ فَإِنَّهَا مُحَرَّمَةٌ عَلَيْهِمْ ۛأَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً ۛ يَتِيهُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ فَلَا تَأْسَ عَلَى الْقَوْمِالْفَاسِقِينَ

He (ﷲ) said, “Then indeed, it is forbidden to them for forty years [in which] they will wander throughout the land. So do not grieve over the defiantly disobedient people.” [QS 5:26]

When we fail, it is just as the people Israelites wandering in the middle of the desert for forty years. It is just like a group of people getting lost in a place without knowing any direction or even any translation of the language they are facing. Those people described in above Qur’anic ayah is failing. They fail to translate the message from their Prophet. Is it our problem nowadays? Lost in translation?

قُلْمَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُتَكَلِّفِينَ

Say, [OMuhammad], “I do not ask you for the Qur’an any payment, and I am not of the pretentious [QS 38:86]

إِنْهُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

It is but a reminder to the worlds. [QS 38:87]

وَلَتَعْلَمُنَّنَبَأَهُ بَعْدَ حِينٍ

And you will surely know [the truth of] its information after a time.” [QS 38:88]

Bibliography

Kashgary, A. D. (2011). The paradox of translating the untranslatable: Equivalence vs. non-equivalence in translating from Arabic to English. Journal of King Saud University – Languages and Translation, 46-57.

Raof, H. A. (2001). Qur’an Translation: Discourse, Texture, and Exegesis. Leeds, W Yorkshire: Curzon Press.