Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Reflection on the Past

Saya menguap. Memang rutin harian begini. Menghadap komputer tanpa sebarang tujuan, terperangkap dalam kubikel berkusyen biru. Jeles, di kubikel sebelah Puan Stella (atau apa namanya) bercakap di gagang telefon (saya tidak nampak, tetapi memandangan tiada suara jelas yang membalas --saya teka).

Jari-jari saya terus menaip sambil minda ini menggeliatkan sel-sel neutron mencari cebis-cebis informasi.

Sekarang, saya sedang berlatih untuk live in the present. Mungkin terlalu present.

Kenapa? Kerana saya manusia yang suka menghuni di masa lampau - to dwell in the past.

I am not kidding. Probably because I am always too attached to what I did, or maybe because I only realize how important the experience is and how it was a part of my life when the experience ended. Sadly.

Nevertheless I realize this is not only my personal problem.I read an article from the Malay Mail Online about Singapore's 50th Independence and how she sprinted from Third World to First World in a very short amount of time. I am not necessarily admiring Singapore fast-track route to success because I believe each and every country has her own pace of developing - depending on many factors: geography, international relation and domestic political landscape are among those. What caught my short-span attention is this phrase:

 Make new history, not only celebrate old history

So let us turn our head to what have been plaguing Muslims all over the world. Some of us just don't care what our civilizations had to offer for hundreds of years while some of us care too much and want to bring the past back to the future.

Tough luck. None of the two extremes will work.

Put aside many premonitory hadiths about the ill-being state of the ummah ( I am not saying to ignore them, I am saying we can learn and improve from them - which what I am going to explain next), I believe it's not damaged beyond repair. Remember, the only constant about the world is the change.

Yes, we can change.

Yes, we can.

A Look at the Past (mine and of this ummah)

I am not sure if it is just me, but I have the longest time of conception that it was all good and pure when once Islam was regarded as the "highest culture". Starting from the time of sahabahs to Omayyad to the Abbasid to the Ottoman - and Mamluk, Fatimid and of anything between them.

I was introduced to the Golden Age where Islam was the focus of other parts of the world due to the scientific advancement (islamic, natural and soft) unparalleled by any civilizations, the resilience of each dynasties, the economic and social wealth and the military prowess.

The spilling of the blood, the adoption of the "dynasty" concept itself, the blood throne, the oppression towards minorities, conflict between sects - these are not pretty pictures and I was disturbed once I knew in details about them. This is not something that we should be proud of. Of course there were actions with what was first justified causes, or at least justified in retrospect to  the constraints of the moral frame in those days. However, many others are just void of any good justification.

My romanticized version of "Islamic history" that was glorified over time was actually not true. So I lost my cause of why are we moving in that direction again.

When I studied Islam and Body, we were required to read the Arabian Nights --and you have no idea how vulgar and obscene the stories inside the book. Worse, it is supposed to originate from Abbasid (but later in the falling period).

I argued with my Professor by consulting him at his office why would he pick that book. He explained to me that the book is considered as the low literature of the Islamic civilization, mainly relegated to lower caste and women (I am not implying anything, it's a fact that I was told).

The discussion didn't stop there. I think he did realize I was flared with disappointment. Then I asked him, why didn't he pick a better work from so called the "high literature". He explained legitly, that you can't expect to understand the culture without going high and low. Arabian Nights, no matter how much you dislike it (unlike the West who seems to be very very very fond of it), it was a part of the civilization.

I liked that class. Because my professor, he was never bias. He included a lengthy discussion from Katz about our purity ritual which is very interesting, about the garden as the manifestation on earth, about the first concept of hospital and medical advancement and about various interesting (and weird too) Saints who are the transgressors of the boundary.

I did not stop there -- I learned more when I chose to write for my final paper about Batu Bersurat Terengganu and their impact on the theory of coming of Islam to Malay Archipelago . Consequently, I learned many things, the good and the bad, including those which are not taught in schools.

Bearing the advice of the professor about how to approach the history, I realized, the good and the bad are actually parts of history. You need to accept it - nothing's perfect, including the almost-utopia glorified Islamic civilization that once I used to believe.

The beauty does not lie with the stories themselves, but with the history that we can learn from it. That's why I believe, confronting our past head-on and willing to learn (and re-learn) will open a new possibility. For me personally, and the ummah, ultimately.

The past may have its share, but it is up to to ultimately to define our own identity, for the present and the future lies ahead.

Yes, we can.
Make new history, not only celebrate old history
Make new history, not only celebrate old history
Make new history, not only celebrate old history

No comments:

Post a Comment