Posted in Philosophy, Religion

The True Purpose of Victory

Victory

What is the purpose of the victory?

Usually in our daily life, we are alluded in kind of idea to achieve something, win the election, graduated from the college, to work in the multi-billions private company, or just be a better person.

The victory usually for many people is the goal itself. But then again, what is the purpose of that particular victory?

One chapter in Prophet ﷺ life might answer that question. As the chapter conclude the answer, it may also explain its relation with the month of Ramadan.

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Several years after The Prophet ﷺ and his companions went through one of the most difficult battles and the most humiliated scene in their life. It was so clear that the dream the Prophet had has been fulfilled, they enter the city of Makkah from every direction. It is though a few years ago, they desperately in anger and confusion.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ had a dream one day. He has revealed a scene where the Muslims entering Makkah and makes the pilgrimage (Hajj). After years and years struggling in battles against the Quraish, notably after they went on against in the battle of the trench, this vision that The Prophet had, have lifted up their spirit, motivates them to move towards Makkah, ending all the animosity between the two.

After 6-7 years the Prophet ﷺ and his companions settled in Madina, the worst military engagement happened. Quraish leaders successfully convinced all the tribes around the land of Arabs to join an alliance with them marching towards Madina. They were convinced that the real problem is indeed Prophet ﷺ and his companions that reside on Madina.

The Alliance consisting ten to twelve thousand men from multi-factions of Arab tribes surrounds the city of Madina prepared to attack the city and kills every Muslim man and woman inside, annihilate them and take the spoil of wars. But one of the companions, Salman the Persian, advised something that came outside of Arab world, the trench. This scene and how the battles ended is on the surah Al-Ahzab, they were saved by the physical winds, and they went on without even battling the enemies with their swords. Moreover, there are winds that blowing news inside the Alliance that fractured their bond. Thus the battle ended and the Quraish went home.

After they had the worst military engagement, Prophet ﷺ had a dream that he and his companions entering the city of Makkah, without weapons, and do the pilgrimage. This dream revealed only a year after that worst battle happened, and now they will go entering the city of Makkah without any preparation for battle since the dream of the Prophet ﷺ was counted as revelation!

When people do pilgrimage, the tradition is that all the battles or fighting inside are prohibited. So The Quraish sends some of their men to cut off the Prophet ﷺ and his companions journey towards Makkah. Fortunately, the Muslims had their own intelligence to get that information, and made them go for an alternate place and set-up their camps temporarily. They then reached the barren field called Hudaibiya.

Long story short, after a few incidents and assassination attempts to kill Prophet ﷺ, the Quraish now forced to negotiate with the Muslims. If they attack the people who want to make the pilgrimage, the news will spread out that they abandon the sanctity of the pilgrimage and the holy city of Makkah. They will lose their respects in Arab lands.

Finally, after tough and tense negotiation, things all wrapping up, and those two had agreed for a conclusion. The conclusion is very demeaning and made the companions disappointed in many ways. They should go back to Madina, canceling the pilgrimage, and sacrifice the animals outside the city of Makkah. Moreover, any Makkah people that run away from Makkah towards Madina, they should be returned safely to Makkah. But people from Madina that comes to Makkah, they won’t be returned to Madina and becoming their captives.

All of the treaty in that negotiation put disadvantages towards the Prophet ﷺ and his companions! The companions now are in jeopardy and confusion. The level of frustration is very high. They were enraged, especially for Umar!!

Did not the Prophet ﷺ say he had been seeing a dream? Are we the People of Truth? Is he the Prophet? What are we doing here in Hudaibiya!?

As Umar asking over and over to Abu Bakr, The Prophet ﷺ giving commands to all of the companions. They were asking to take off their ihram, shave their hair and sacrifice the animals. Unexpectedly, no one hears the Prophet ﷺ!! This is the first time when they did not obey the commands directly! Prophet ﷺ then go see his wife and asking for advice. Then Prophet ﷺ take off his ihram, shave his hair and sacrifice the animal, then soon followed by the companions. Then they went back home. It seems humiliated.

When they went back to Madina, Umar pulls his horse and move towards Prophet ﷺ hoping he can make a conversation with him but then he was rejected. Three times he was asked and had being rejected. The Prophet ﷺ did not say anything to Umar.

After that scene, Umar was asked by the Prophet ﷺ to see him directly. Umar was afraid and nervous because of the scene before. When Umar came, he saw the Prophet ﷺ smiling with joy and bright face. The revelation has been sent down. He recites the full Surah of Fath.

The Prophet ﷺ says: “Tonight there has been revealed to me a Surah which is dearer to me than that on which the sun shines.”

إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُّبِينًا

Verily, We have given you (O Muhammad SAW) a manifest victory. [QS. 48:1]

Umar hears the whole thing, and how is that a victory, he thought himself? But with this revelation the course for all of them had been set.

In all of the incident, they were still heading back, they were still humiliated after the signing of the treaty of Hudaibiya. What is the point of this revelation? The only changes are how ﷲ through the revelation enforced the Muslim to see things differently. Not only action that defines victory, but also attitude and emotion that defines it!

Thus ﷲ defines the victory, not in a human sense, He defines it in the Quranic sense. That’s the Surah is all about.

It is to look at victory from the lens with which the Quran want to see it as opposed to looking at it in a worldly sense.

It is such a powerful lesson of the Quran!

Back to the question in the first paragraph. What is the purpose of the victory?

From the structure itself, beautifully the purpose was explained as the idea of forgiveness scattered all over the Surah! The beginning, middle and end of the Surah, it is all about forgiveness. Victory itself is not a goal! It is all about forgiveness!

لِّيَغْفِرَ لَكَ اللَّهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِن ذَنبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَاطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا

That Allah may forgive for you what preceded of your sin and what will follow and complete His favor upon you and guide you to a straight path [48:2]

وَلِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ يَغْفِرُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. [48:14]

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

…..Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward. [48:29]

The purpose of the Prophet ﷺ mission was not to gain a territory. The purpose is to liberate the Ka’bah, House of ﷲ built by Ibrahim ‘alaihissalam. The reason he builds the Ka’bah is that so people can worship only ﷲ and earn their forgiveness. The reason the Muslim went on hajj is to earn their forgiveness, and now ﷲ given them the forgiveness anyway because the Quraish has signed the treaty, the Quraish will fall into domino and there is not gonna be a war necessary for them. When that happened (the fallen of Quraish), Ka’bah liberated.

When Ka’bah liberated, people’s door to earning for ﷲ forgiveness is gonna be wide opened, there is gonna be billion and billion people all over the world coming to Hajj so that Allah can forgive. The goal of Islam was to open the door for forgiveness for humanity. That is the goal of the victory of Islam!

As the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his companions surround the city of Makkah, a few years after the treaty of Hudaibiya and Quraish leaders were convinced that they were overwhelmed. The holy city of Makkah now is opened, conquered without even had a battle necessary.

It is as Sun Tzu says in his Art of War, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” 

The Supreme art of war, complete victory. But the important thing is not about the victory itself, it is about what is going to happen with the people of Makkah as it continues in the next passage.

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As Ramadan passes by, we are reminded how this month opens up possibilities for ﷲ forgiveness. The last ten days, particularly are the days which ﷲ sent down The Quran, or we usually uses the terms “Lailatul Qadr” or the Night of Qadr (Decree). One narration described several actions that might be the reasons for ﷲ forgiveness; fasting in the month of Ramadan, pray in its night and pray in the Night of Qadr (Decree). So once the month is completed, only then is the believer counted among those who fasted the month and pray it’s nights, thus being rewarded with forgiveness of previous sins.

It is in the same month of Ramadan, that the Fath of Makkah happened, one view says it was on 8 Ramadan that the Muslim march from Madina, and arrived at Makkah on 20 or 21 Ramadan. This blessed month of Ramadan opens up the door of forgiveness as depicted in the Surah of Fath itself.

How should we view this particular forgiveness?

We can look back, and take a look at the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ life. He showed to the people of Makkah the extent of his mercy and forgiveness even though he was exiled from his homeland, being hated and despised by some of the people of Makkah, notably The Quraish. Not forgetting they also did kill a member of his family, tortured his companions, and making his life painful.

In the month of Ramadan, when the Prophet ﷺ and his companions arrived at Makkah with more or less ten thousand men, yet The Prophet ﷺ commanded, “No conflict or battle can take place on that day” and he named it ‘the day of mercy – yaumul marhamah’ not ‘the day of slaughter – yaumul malhamah’.

It is recorded when entering his beloved city; The Prophets head was so low while riding his mount; that his beard was touching the back of his mount in complete humbleness and humility. In praise of his Creator, to thank Him for this peaceful victory. And he recited Surah of Fath along the way.

Now in a position of power, he could take a stand and took vengeance against the people of Quraish. Yet, he asked the people of Quraish how they thought he was going to deal with them, now that he had easy charge over Makkah. They replied, “as a noble brother” that they expected nothing but goodness from him and he would deal towards them kindly. The Prophet ﷺ spoke telling them“I speak to you in the same words of the prophet Yusuf (Joseph) ‘alaihissalam, who spoke to his brothers” and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ recited a passage from the Qur’an relating to the story of Yusuf ‘alaihissalam:

قَالَ لَا تَثْرِيبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ ۖ يَغْفِرُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ ۖ وَهُوَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ 

“No blame will there be upon you today. Allah will forgive you, and He is the most merciful of the merciful” [QS. 12:92].

Then he announced to them that they are free now and they may go wherever they please. The Prophet ﷺ granted his forgiveness to his former enemies, those who wanted to destroy his belief, his reputation, his life and his associates not so long ago. He forgave them all men and women that came to him or his companions. So here we see his mercy for mankind, which Muslims can only describe as a gift from the Giver of all things.

These descriptions alluded back to the core of the Surah of Fath, the true meaning of victory. To seek forgiveness.

 

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Posted in Culture, Religion

Ramadan and The Legacy of Ibrahim

dubai desert

The only revelation dealing with the month of Ramadan is in Surah Baqarah. More importantly, the Surah with all of its subjects covers an overview of Islam in a bigger picture.

One of the strongest messages in this particular Surah is that Islam has the same roots as the religion of Ibrahim ‘alaihissalam. In a comprehensive way, Rasulullah ﷺ mission is to fulfill the legacy of Ibrahim! You may argue that the five pillars/foundations of Islam derived from the legacy of Ibrahim. Let’s review the concepts briefly,

1. Shahada, the core concept of Tauhid, One God that cannot be compared to anything. This first foundation of Islam resonates strongly in relation with Ibrahim as his message is about Tauhid. Because of that, the idea of monotheistic faith commonly known as Abrahamic faith. The message of Ibrahim and Islam are tie-in on shahada itself. Note to mention that the Ka’bah itself is the establishment of the concept of Tauhid. This resonates firmly in the mission of Rasulullah ﷺ as he liberates the Ka’bah from the idols to restore the legacy of Ibrahim.

2. Salah, the daily prayers, are the fulfillment of the Ibrahim prayers (du’a), “please make my generation pray!”

3. The act of Hajj is practically how we learn the history of our father, Ibrahim. Every part of it commemorate the legacy of Ibrahim, following the footsteps of our father literally. Fasting in Ramadan and Zakat are not so obvious attributed to Ibrahim, but it has a connection and inseparable bond with the legacy of Ibrahim,

4. As far as Zakat is a concern, there is an ayah relating Ibrahim and Ismail with Salat and Zakat. In one narration of hadith, Ismail used to tell his family to pray and give Zakat. Obviously, he learns from his father, Ibrahim. So Zakat has a connection to Ibrahim.

5. How is Ramadan supposed to connect the legacy of Ibrahim?

As Ibrahim build the Ka’bah, he realizes that the religion may deteriorate over time, and he made prayer: sent a messenger who recites the book, teaching them, and cleanse them.

رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

“Our Lord! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall recite unto them Your Verses and teaching the Book and Al-Hikmah (full knowledge of the Islamic laws and jurisprudence or wisdom or Prophethood, etc.), and cleanse them. Verily! You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” [QS 2:129]

Remarkably the order of this ayah comes before the ayah of Ramadan and as the ayah progressed up until when Ibrahim build the Ka’bah alongside Ismail, from whom long-lineage gap after will be coming to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. In the other side, there are long-chain of generation of prophets comes after Ishaq. Every prophet who passed away, there will be a new generation of prophets to take their place. Every generation in Ishaq lineage had a prophet, while there are thousands of years of gap between Ismail and Muhammad, Rasulullah ﷺ!!

Later on, in the years to come, the promised one received Quran on the Night of Decree (ليلة القدر) which has happened in Ramadan! In conclusion, Ramadan is a celebration when the prayer of Ibrahim was finally answered through the coming of Rasulullah ﷺ. Ibrahim made a prayer thousands year ago of the coming of the final messenger, “Ya ﷲ send a messenger who will recite your revelation.”

That messenger is indeed Rasulullah ﷺ and he also appointed as the final messenger in this holy month of Ramadan! The five foundations of Islam in one way or another are trace back to the Prophet Ibrahim ‘alaihissalam. As Quran further described and mentioned in Surah Baqarah, both lineage of Ibrahim: Ismail and Ishaq, considered themselves as Muslim. The Rabbi didn’t necessarily practice all entire different faith. At their time, respectively in every generation in that long-chain lineage of Ishaq, they are describing themselves as Muslim whether today they acknowledge the name or not.

Rasulullah ﷺ also introduced that his message is the practice of Ibrahim religion, not as something that inseparable from the Rabbi. Ibrahim is the tie between these two lineages. The majority of the prophets is indeed coming from the son of Ishaq, notably Ya’qub (Israel), even Rasulullah ﷺ acknowledge the first Qibla in Jerusalem as he prays towards it and further goes there in the event of Miraculous Night Journey (Isra’). He also used to practice the fasting as the Rabbi did!

All in all, Quran describing these two lineages and legacies as a joint, it is inseparable! The religious frameworks that both sides used is parallel to each other, and Quran captures its message beautifully with the tie-in between them is Ibrahim. Experts could come to a conclusion that Muhammad is really the prophet which has been foretold!

For the Jews, they were used to learn the signs of the upcoming prophet. As months and years passing by, they were in desperate moments waiting the promised one, they have studied the signs heavily! The last prophet that has appeared before them is Isa ‘alaihissalam, yet most of them rejected him.

There is a 6th-century gap between Isa ‘alaihissalam and Rasulullah ﷺ. For these gap of years, the study of eschatology (the end of times) becomes more and more intense as they are hoping the promised one will unite and gave them victory and liberation! When the news of Muhammad of the Arabs comes, their people tend to lean towards him, curious to learn about his message, but then intervened by the Rabbi instead!

As the final messenger revealed, and apparently that he is coming from the Arabs, the Rabbis are in heavy denial and thus rejected Rasulullah ﷺ. Not only being rejected, they even blockade the message of Islam to their people and saying that he is not the real prophet! When these blockades happened, ﷲ took their status as an ummah by turning the Qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca.

سَيَقُولُ السُّفَهَاءُ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَا وَلَّاهُمْ عَن قِبْلَتِهِمُ الَّتِي كَانُوا عَلَيْهَا ۚ قُل لِّلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ ۚ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

The foolish among the people will say, “What has turned them away from their Qiblah, which they used to face?” Say, “To Allah belongs the east and the west. He guides whom He wills to a straight path.” [QS. 2:142]

وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا ۗ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلَّا لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ ۚ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّهُ ۗ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ

And thus, we have made you a just community/nation that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. And We did not make the Qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels. And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allah has guided. And never would Allah have caused you to lose your faith. Indeed, Allah is, to the people, Kind, and Merciful. [QS. 2:143]

قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ ۗ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ

We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a qiblah with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do. [QS. 2:144]

وَلَئِنْ أَتَيْتَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ بِكُلِّ آيَةٍ مَّا تَبِعُوا قِبْلَتَكَ ۚ وَمَا أَنتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَتَهُمْ ۚ وَمَا بَعْضُهُم بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَةَ بَعْضٍ ۚ وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ ۙ إِنَّكَ إِذًا لَّمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

And if you brought to those who were given the Scripture every sign, they would not follow your qiblah. Nor will you be a follower of their qiblah. Nor would they be followers of one another’s qiblah. So if you were to follow their desires after what has come to you of knowledge, indeed, you would then be among the wrongdoers. [QS. 2:145]

The shifting direction of Qibla is a sign that the capital of Islam, the true religion of Ibrahim is also changing! This means that ﷲ separates this two ummah completely. In Surah Baqarah, ﷲ also mentioned about Ibrahim as the tie between Israelites and newly born Muslim society. It is as He is saying that “if you are proud of your heritage, at least show some loyalty to Ibrahim!” No matter what color or race, every human being has the same opportunities in this life.

The changing of Qibla is making the Jewish people furious! They realize that they were separated in religion completely and a new distinct nation was born. In this very moment, ﷲ makes Ramadan as the new fasting practice for Muslim!

Nearly in the same time, ﷲ sent down revelation making fighting compulsory, and later War of Badr happened. All of it, changing of Qibla, fasting, and War declaration was sent down nearly at the same times! More of this matter can refer to https://www.facebook.com/notes/iman…

The last piece of this note is that at the end of the day, the month of Ramadan distinguished us, Muslim, as a people, as a nation. It was a statement of new identity as an ummah. It was a celebration of the revealed constitution for Muslim, The Quran. By this statement, another point that needs to be considered is “What have we done in Ramadan? What have we achieved in this life? How does it impact our society?”

Posted in Religion

The Mother and Hard of Heart

Musa ‘alaihissalam or Moses in biblical term both Jews and Christianity has been depicted as an important figure. The conflict between him and the Pharaoh has always been an inspiring story to be told. Truth and False. Light and Dark, and so on.

In the Qur’an sura 28, the beginning of it opens with how The Pharaoh empire tearing apart the Israelites, killing the boys and left the girls behind. By introducing this narration, we are led to the disjointed Israelites and enslavement of them by the Pharaoh.

إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلَ أَهْلَهَا شِيَعًا يَسْتَضْعِفُ طَائِفَةً مِّنْهُمْ يُذَبِّحُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ

Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their [newborn] sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters [QS 28:4].

But then interestingly enough the next ayah telling us about how Israelites will be throned by ﷲ and overcome the Tyrannical Pharaoh empire. After that, then we are led to “newly born” baby Musa. In case you are wondering what Musa means, it is newly born or child (وَلَدًا) as the ayah 9 translates, and Ramses, The Son of Ra, Thutmose, The Son of Thot, and so on. Note that Musa is Egyptian word not Jewish [1].

If you are familiar with how movie narrates its story, sometimes they tend to go similarly. They introduce the problem like a tyrannical empire in the beginning and then showing us “Protagonists” in which will bring hope and overthrown the tyrannical empire. Cliche for the movies.

It is just as the movie narrates its story, so does the Qur’an in a magnificent way while maintaining the history on its track.

Interestingly enough, the next scene is the mother of the baby, put the baby Musa onto the flowing of Nile River as she gets “whispering” message (أَوْحَيْنَا).

وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ أُمِّ مُوسَىٰ أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ ۖ فَإِذَا خِفْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَأَلْقِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ وَلَا تَخَافِي وَلَا تَحْزَنِي ۖ إِنَّا رَادُّوهُ إِلَيْكِ وَجَاعِلُوهُ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ

And We inspired to the mother of Moses, “Suckle him; but when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear and do not grieve. Indeed, We will return him to you and will make him [one] of the messengers. [QS 28 : 7]”

The story goes until the baby goes inside the Pharaoh Palace. The wife of the Pharaoh found him and convinced The Pharaoh to nurture the Israelite boy and keep him inside The Palace.

وَقَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ فِرْعَوْنَ قُرَّتُ عَيْنٍ لِّي وَلَكَ ۖ لَا تَقْتُلُوهُ عَسَىٰ أَن يَنفَعَنَا أَوْ نَتَّخِذَهُ وَلَدًا وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ

And the wife of Pharaoh said, “[He will be] a comfort of the eye for me and for you. Do not kill him; perhaps he may benefit us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceived not [QS 28:9].

The next scene, Musa mother feels empty and then ﷲ gave her strength to overcome the burden.

وَأَصْبَحَ فُؤَادُ أُمِّ مُوسَىٰ فَارِغًا ۖ إِن كَادَتْ لَتُبْدِي بِهِ لَوْلَا أَن رَّبَطْنَا عَلَىٰ قَلْبِهَا لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ 

And the heart of the mother of Musa (Moses) became empty. She was very near to disclose his (case, i.e. the child is her son), had We not strengthened her heart (with Faith) so that she might remain as one of the believers [QS 28:10].

The ayah goes by as “ﷲ strengthened her heart”. In the Hebrew and biblical literature, the name of Musa mother was Jochebed יוֹכָבֶד . Many historians translate the name as “the God/YHWH of Glory” or “YHWH is Glory”. But if we analyze from its root, the core meaning of יו (Jo) is for YHWH/God and ֹכָבֶד (Kabed) can be perceived as impressive.

Sometimes the impressing is done by sheer merit of weight or we can say worthy of being noticed. The secondary nuance from this root-verb is that of immobility, immovable [2]. Thus, one translation of Kabed suggests the words “hard of heart” in which amazingly also translated by the Qur’an, “Had We not strengthened/fortified/hardened…”

Aside from how old sacred book narrates its story and impacted the society up until now, the depiction conflict between the Dark Tyrannical Empire and messenger of peace/hope/truth has always been inside our historical “DNA”.

From this first chapter of Musa life, we have implored that it was his mother who take action. The very first educational program that the children can get. The step-mother (Asiyah) added and make a contribution for the baby to grow and develop as well (Asiyah is secretly a believer in The Palace).

The Revolution started by the very first education newly baby born can get. It is the mother. Always the mother.

References

1. Dimont, Max I. Jews, God, and History. 2004. Signet Classic. 2nd edition.

2. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jochebed.html

Posted in Religion

The Most Merciful

الرحمن الرحيم

The beauty of the Qur’an-specific language, meanings, and style surpasses man’s faculty to reproduce the Qur’an in a translated form. A rough approximation of the language, meanings, and style of the Qur’an is possible to enable non-Arabic speakers to understand the message. Qur’an translators have admitted the unique linguistic nature of Qur’anic discourse and the severe limits of its translatability; none of them has claimed that his translation is the standard or the equivalent of the Qur’an (Raof, 2001). Therefore, the choice of the words in the Qur’an has impacted greatly in our approach to determining the purpose behind those words. We couldn’t literally translate all the words in it. We may lose the equivalency in the meaning or even style.

One of the very powerful words found in the Qur’an is الرحمنالرحيم (Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim). Both of them is the name of ﷲ and have synonymous meaning. It is really hard to describe the distinction between those two because they came from the same origin. In a rough English translation, several scholars agreed upon the word ‘kindness’, ‘beneficent’, and ‘merciful’ to be used as a translation. But in the end, you just approximate the literal meaning without the consent of its message. It’s difficult to translate its message behind it to describe the distinction between those two.

Years ago I asked one scholar about the explanation of these two words. But I can’t remember exactly what he said. He just said that it must be related to the worldly desire and after-life vision. The word الرحمن was manifested to all human being as a symbol of how merciful ﷲ to us. While, الرحيم symbolize His mercy, love and care to guide us up until the after-life. At that time, I didn’t realize how deep it is.

In Arabic words when you said something and put an “aan” at the end of that word, its quality become extreme. But it is not for permanent. When you are in extremely thirsty you put those pattern “aan” at the end of the word and it will shift its quality to extreme condition. But you are not thirsty forever, right? It is only temporary. The end pattern “aan” is also taking place at the very moment. Immediately.

Extreme, temporary, and immediate. These are the three words to describe الرحمن. It is describing that at the very moment ﷲ is extremely merciful. Imagine the spike when you extrapolate statistical data, or one extreme point on a sinusoidal curve. It is how الرحمن looks like.

Meanwhile, الرحيم has two qualities. First, it is constant. To describe what is “constant” in this context, imagine a man who has the quality of the patient. He may become impatient at one moment, but most people still seeing him patient. His characteristic remains the same. Constant.

The second quality of الرحيم is not necessary taking place, “it is not acted out”. It is potential. Someone described as a wise man, but when he is sleeping, he does not demonstrate his wisdom. It is dormant quality. It is not necessary demonstrated.

The question then, why الرحمن first? Well, human being loves immediacy. For example, imagine you are an employee in one company and you will get your paycheck on Friday. You need that money immediately, but your boss is being late. Your colleague says, “Don’t worry,our boss is reliable. He will be here shortly. ”You may not satisfy with that quality because you need the money immediately and your boss is being late. You need it right now. You don’t need your boss reliability, you don’t need his “dormant” quality. Period.

When a human being has a problem, they don’t think the quality and potential within themselves. They want the quality to be manifested right away to drive away their problem.

Another example. You just finished your works and phone your wife to prepare dinner. When you arrived at home you couldn’t find the food you ordered. You are extremely hungry. Your wife then asked something else aside from dinner, and obviously, you can’t think clearly about what she just said. “I don’t care. I just want to have a dinner…!” you said.

A human being, when they have immediate needs, they can’t think clearly about anything else. They want their needs to be fulfilled.

Al-Zamakhshari brilliantly describing these two words as two kinds of oceans. Imagine you are looking at the ocean. One part you see the violent ocean endlessly crashing on and on. It is taking its extreme form. This is الرحمن.

In the other part, you see the calm, undisturbed ocean. You just can’t resist on how the ocean made you carried away because it is too calm and peaceful. This is a description of الرحيم.

You will appreciate the genius of one companion, Ibn Abbas, who said about الرحمن and الرحيم. He said الرحمن is for this world, and الرحيم is for the next world. Look at how he said it. الرحمن is temporary just like this world, it doesn’t last forever, and الرحيم is always been there because the next life is permanent. What a splendid saying!

How can ﷲ be described as الرحمن and الرحيم at the same time? This is the beauty of it. It is because every time you asking ﷲ, even you were committed sin before, the potential is always there, He always is there in a state of the ‘Most Merciful’ and manifests it right away. If it is not manifest at the very moment, it will be manifested in the next life. If you have the same problem over and over again, you just keep doing the same mistake, He is still in a state of the “Most Merciful”. الرحمن الرحيم.

This is why these two words are incredible.

You put your trust in ﷲ as He ought to be trusted, as He is always there constantly for you and manifested His extreme love, care, and mercy to uphold people who have faith in Him. That is الرحمن الرحيم.

Simply, you can’t generalize and translate the words directly. You can’t translate the beauty and the majestic behind it. At this point, when you look the explanation thoroughly, you should realize that His mercy is greater than your sin.

As one poet once said,

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” (Rumi)

Let us embrace the mercy of الرحمن الرحيم…
caravan

Bibliography

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

Posted in Book Review, Philosophy, Science

Beyond “What is Life?”

what is life gambar

Many of us may ask “What is life, really?”

All living things made up from cells, and cells made up practically from “dead” matters.

How can dead matters turn into living things? What are the processes inside of it? The key lies in some information that processed inside one part of the cells, which is DNA. As the living things live, the DNA processes all the genetic information needed for cells to grow until a certain time. They produce proteins, they build everything that every cell needed to grow.

All cells, we can say, programmed themselves to be “dead” at some point. Thermodynamically, as they grow, cells tend to be more chaotic in time. As you grow old, you will see a wrinkle, white hair and so on. This is natural things that happen in living things, but does that means living things is the same as “life” itself? Is life the aggregate of all reaction processes that are taking place inside of cells?

The cycle continues as they continue to breed so that their species do not fall into extinction. To avoid losing track of information, new entity succeeded their predecessors. The information (genetic code.red) then carried through generations. In a way, life is just a lot of stuff that carries genetic information around. So is DNA life then? DNA itself is certainly a very complex molecule, but it can’t do anything by itself.

Then viruses added problems. We are not very sure if they can count as living things or dead. It depends on the condition in which they are inside a host or not. There are some viruses that can re-animate the dead cells, well it blurred the line, again.

Furthermore, there are mitochondria, the “power plant” of most complex cells and were previously free-living bacteria that entered a partnership with bigger cells. They still have their DNA and can multiply, but they are not alive anymore! They traded their own life for the survival of their DNA. Maybe, life is information that manages to ensure its continued existence, or it is not?

One person who thought deeply about it was the Quantum physicist Erwin Schrödinger. He really gives his thought on what is going on in our cells, although his effort in this biology-related matter, some (biologist.red) says, unheard or plays an insignificant role at some point.

Does Quantum mechanics which underpin many physics and chemistry phenomenon also play a role inside living organism?

****

Probably most of us have probably heard of quantum mechanics or quantum physics. Quantum mechanics describes a reality on the tiniest scales; the world in which particles can exist in two or more places at once spread themselves in a wave-like behavior, tunnel through impenetrable walls and so forth. A really different world!

Over a century, this bizarre description has been part of all our lives. The mathematical formulation was completed in mid-1920’s. Quantum mechanics already describing how the electrons arrange themselves within atoms. By doing so it underpins the whole chemistry, material science, and electronics; we can say that it is the very essence of most technological advances of the past half-century.

If Quantum mechanics can describe the behavior of the atoms with all their weirdness, then why aren’t all the objects around us, including humans (which made up of atoms) also able to be in two places at once, and so forth? One obvious difference is that the Quantum world does apply to single particles consisting of just a handful atoms.

Quantum effects were certainly unexpected to play any role inside of living cells. Yet, 70 years ago, Nobel-prize winning physicist and Quantum pioneer, Erwin Schrödinger suggested that deep down, some aspects of biology must be based on the rules and orderly world of quantum mechanics. His book inspired a generation of scientists. Probably we have heard his journey in exploring the quantum world, but only a few knew he was also tackled one of the biggest questions: “What is Life?”

**

DUBLIN. In the first Friday of February 1943, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger give a lecture with an intriguing title: “What is Life?”

The interest was so great that the lecture had to be repeated on the following Monday. On three consecutive Fridays, 56-year-old Schrödinger walked into the Fritzgerald Building lecture theater to give his talks, in which he explored the relationship between quantum physics and recent discovery in biology.

But what about life? What is the nature of it? Schrödinger was amazed by the fact that chromosomes are accurately duplicated during cell division (mitosis) and during the creation of sex cells (meiosis).

He pointed out that heredity depends on molecules made of comparatively few particles – certainly too few to benefit from the order from disorder rules of thermodynamics. But life was clearly in order. Why?

For biologists, the apparent unchanging characteristic of genes was simply a fact. But for Schrödinger, it’s a “problem”. He calculated that each gene might be composed of only 1000 atoms. Thus, genes should be continuously shimmering and altering because the fundamental laws of physics and chemistry are statistical; although atoms overall tend to behave consistently, an individual atom can behave in a way that contradicts these laws. For most objects we encounter, this probably doesn’t matter. Most of them don’t behave in unpredictable ways.

If genes are made only a few hundred atoms, they should display that uncertain behavior, and they should not remain constant over the generations. And yet, the experiments showed that mutations occur quite rarely!

The challenge was to explain how genes act lawfully and cause organisms to behave lawfully, while being composed only a few number of atoms, a significant proportion of which may be behaving unlawfully. He then suggested that life was based on a novel physical principle whereas its macroscopic order is a reflection of quantum level order, rather than the molecular disorder that characterizes the inanimate world. He coined this as “order from order”.

Schrödinger then argued that chromosomes “contain, in some kind of code-script, the entire pattern of the individual’s future development and of its functioning in the mature state.” This was the very first time anyone clearly suggested genes might contain, or even simply could be, “a code-script”.

Years to come, that code-script like was founded. It is the DNA. James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins (The founders) – all claimed that Schrödinger’s “What is Life?” played an important role in their personal journeys toward their work on finding the structure of DNA.

**

Entering the new realm of science: Quantum Biology

Theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili and molecular geneticist Johnjoe McFadden have been discussing physics and chemistry phenomenon that might affect biology in their published book entitled Life on the Edge: The Coming Age of Quantum Biology. As the books said, Quantum Biology is about “looking for non-trivial, the counter-intuitive ideas in Quantum mechanics and to see if they do indeed play an important role in describing the processes of life.”

Life on the edge - quantum biology

The first question raised to build a new foundation for Quantum Biology is: Does quantum mechanics play a role inside living organism?

Up until a decade ago, most biologists would have disagreed that quantum physics plays a role inside living organism. But as the scientists, particularly biologist probes the dynamics of smaller systems – even individual atoms and molecules inside living cells, the sign of quantum mechanical behavior in the building blocks of life are becoming increasingly apparent.

There are certain specific behaviors in living organism that required quantum mechanics to be explained. For example, the European robin, Erithacus rubecula. Every year, around this time (autumn), thousands of European robins escape the oncoming harsh Scandinavian winter and head south to the warmer Mediterranean coasts. How they find their way is one of the wonders of the natural world. Unlike many other species, they do not rely on landmarks, ocean currents, a position of the sun or a built-in star map. They are using a remarkable navigation sense. They are able to detect tiny variations in the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. They also seem to be able to “see” the Earth’s magnetic field! The birds’ built-in compass appears to make use of one of the strangest features of quantum mechanics.

Over the past few years, the European robin and its quantum “sixth sense”, has emerged as the pin-up for a new field of research. One that brings altogether the complex, wonderful yet messy living world and the strange orderly world of atoms and elementary particles in a collision of disciplines that is astonishing. It’s Quantum Biology!

Another example is Enzymes, the workhorses of life. They speed up chemical reactions so that processes proceed in seconds inside living cells. How they accelerate chemical reactions? Experiments over the years have shown that enzymes make use of quantum tunneling to accelerate biochemical reactions. The enzyme encourages electrons and protons to vanish from one position in a biomolecule and instantly reappear in another, without passing through the gap. A kind of teleportation.

Another vital process in the biology is photosynthesis. Many argue that it is the most important biochemical reaction on the earth. The processes essentially happens when light energy captured by chlorophyll molecule and converted into chemical energy in which harnessed to fix carbon dioxide and turn it into plant matter. The process whereby this light energy is transported has long been a puzzle because of its efficiency. The question then, how?

In 2007 in California, an experiment carried out and probed what was going on by firing short bursts of laser light at photosynthetic complexes. Then it was revealed that the energy packet performing a neat quantum trick. It behaves quantum mechanically, like a spread-out wave, and samples all possible routes at once to find the quickest way.

All these quantum effects have come as a surprise to most scientists who believed that the quantum mechanics only applied in the microscopic world. All delicate quantum properties were thought to vanish in bigger objects, such as living cells. So how does life manage its quantum trickery?

Rather than avoiding molecular storms, recent research suggests that life embraces them. Just as Schrödinger predicted, life seems to be balanced on the boundary between this sensible everyday world and the weird yet wonderful quantum world.

This thought gathers all quantum physicist, biochemist, molecular biologist, and all related inter-disciplinary field for joining the new-breed, a brand of new emerging science: Quantum Biology.

Perhaps, although Quantum Biology is still speculative, it may explain life’s biggest questions: “What is life?”

What is Life then? 

Sources:
1. Discover: Science for the curious September 2015 edition page 60
2. Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden
Posted in Culture

Imagined Communities

Capitalism and Marxist Communism have somewhat opposed each other as critics, journals and books argued in the past few decades. Capitalism fosters individuality while communism fosters uniformity. Is it? Or not?

Both capitalism and communism represent contradicted values, equality, and individuality. Ever since the French Revolution, people have gradually come to see both equality and individual freedom as fundamental values. Yet the two values contradict each other.

Equality can be ensured only by curtailing the freedoms of those who are better off. Guaranteeing that every individual will be free to do as he wishes inevitably short-changes equality. Sort of Trade-off. Thus, the entire political history of the world since 1789 can be seen as a series of attempts to reconcile this contradiction. The question is “who” plays “what” role?

Throughout the 20th century, we have always presented by the conflict: equality and individuality. The global conflict occurs when cold-war started (no one really knows when cold-war actually happened). The imagined-Communism society of USSR and the Liberty-Capitalism of USA. There is no good-evil here. Moreover, today, there is no region nor state that entirely crafted by purely communism or capitalism.

Somewhere between their gaps, there is always reconciliation around those two values. That’s where governments play their roles.

While we are depicted by the global situation, in the local region, the conflict between Marxist regimes also happened. This is not all about Capitalism-Communism clash. The root of conflict rather, the nationalism itself.

A fundamental transformation in the history of the Marxist movement lies in the conflict in Southeast Asia and China. If the Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia in December 1978 and January 1979 represented the first large-scale conventional war waged by one revolutionary Marxist regime against another, then China’s assault on Vietnam in February rapidly confirmed the precedent.

In Indonesia, the communist party (PKI), although they failed the coup d’etat on 1948, by the year of 1955 they achieved 4th rankings in the national election. After that, in 1965 the CIA conspiracy thingy happened and there was massacred. Some would argue that the opportunist groups had made a deal and thus established themselves as the government and victimized the communist party. Despite this fact, rarely known that because of disagreement over the political strategy they are using, some of the party members had split apart and established their own party, Murba (established by Tan Malaka).

In the other cases, in Eastern Europe, who can be confident that Yugoslavia and Albania will not one day come to blows? Those variegated groups who seek a withdrawal of the Red Army from its encampments in Eastern Europe should remind themselves of the degree to which its overwhelming presence has, since 1945, ruled out an armed conflict between the regions Marxist regimes.

The clash of capitalism and communism is nevertheless the struggle for crafting and imagining the communities. While in the processes, war is inevitable. Then we should ask, “For what purpose does a nation has?”

Benedict Anderson wrote this cause in his books “Imagined Communities”. He examining the creation and global spread of the ‘imagined communities’ of nationality and explores the processes that created these communities: the religious faiths, the decline of antique kingship, the interaction between capitalism and print, the development of secular language-of-state, and changing the conceptions of time and space.

Every rooted ideological movement, therefore, moves towards the nationality as each of them had defined. He agreed with Eric Hobsbawm who stated that “Marxist movement and state have tended to become national not only in form but in substance i.e., nationalist.”

He argued, “what, in a positive sense, made the new communities imaginable was a half-fortuitous, but explosive, interaction between a system of production and productive relations (capitalism), a technology of communications (print), and the fatality of human linguistic diversity.”

Even today, clothes picturing the Marxist martyr, Che-Guevara, are most likely can be found anywhere in this global-capitalized market. Funny.

As the globalization continue, the clash of forces is likely to happen. Soekarno, coined the terms Nefo-Oldefo, New Emerging Forces-Old Emerging Forces.

It is not just about where we sided now, it is about how we interpret. History needs interpretation in every angle, right?

Don’t be caught by such propaganda while you are still uncertain about something, and you are not in a capacity to bear the responsibility. So this is propaganda then? You decide.

 ben anderson

A tribute to Benedict Anderson.

Sources:

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. London: Verso. 2006

Harari, Yuval. N. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. London: Harvill Secker. 2014