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Setiap awal Muharram, kita diperingatkan dengan sebuah peristiwa yang sangat bersejarah di dalam kehidupan Nabi junjungan kita, Muhammad saw dan sahabatnya. Digelar dari masa ke semasa sebagai “Hijrah”, perjalanan yang panjang dan berbahaya dari Makkah ke Madinah adalah satu titik perubahan bagi umat Islam di waktu itu dan generasi seterusnya. Seorang pemikir Islam yang unggul, Haji Abdul Malik Abdul Karim Amrullah di dalam karya agungnya, Sejarah Umat Islam, membayangkan peristiwa hijrah sebagai

“penghidupan yang baru. Di sanalah terdapat keteguhan dan kekuatan. Di sanalah mulai didirikan Negara yang beliau cita-citakan itu, Negara Islam, Negara Tauhid.”

Continue reading “Dua Iktibar Peristiwa Hijrah bagi Pekerja Muslim” »

On 18th September 2015, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore hosted a discussion session relating to my recent book entitled Radicals: Resistance and Protest in Colonial Malaya. There were close to thirty attendees consisting of students, lecturers and members of the public.

I was fortunate to have had Associate Professor, Timothy P. Barnard from the History Department to give his insightful reflections on my book. Tim is an expert on the history of the Malay World, whose writings span across topics such as the social history of the Bugis, Malay films or more specifically, P. Ramlee films and the environmental history of Singapore. An award winning teacher and a gentle soul, Tim has been supportive of my own work since I was just an undergrad. He was my supervisor, seeing through my Honours and Masters theses, and patiently listening to my sharing with him about family life and juggling with many children. Tim wrote a number of letters of recommendation for my applications to scholarships and fellowships. I guess it is every student’s dream to have a supervisor in the likes of Tim who is, at once, a good friend and a source of motivation.

Continue reading “Why do we need to take Radicals seriously? Part 1” »

Parenting to Produce Great Muslims

As sons and daughters of our parents, we often tell ourselves how lucky we are to have been blessed with lovely people who had taken care of us so well. Our parents have sacrificed so much for us, raising us up, giving the education we need and would spent much of their time and energies to ensure that we become better than them. We owe our parents debts that we can never repay.

Continue reading “Parenting to Produce Great Muslims” »

3 Reasons Why Ghosts were Important to the Malays

I have not heard of anyone who has not heard of stories about ghosts especially Malay ghosts. Pontianak tales abound and, more often than not, we are informed of such sightings in the dead still of the night, at those moments when one least expect. Seeeraaaam (scaaaarrrryyy), as the Malays would say it!

I am not here to contest whether ghosts exist or not. I prefer to leave such paranormal speculations to our ghost buster specialists and vampire slayers and anyone interested in things that weak mortals like you and me could not see too clearly. As a trained historian of the Malay World, I always wondered why Malays believe in a whole variety of ghosts more than any other groups the world over. There are more than 50 types of ghosts, ranging from those residing in our homes to those who seek comfort living in the seas to those with over-sized assets, which Malays believe in for perhaps thousands of years. These beliefs persist till today and if you do not believe me, try calling Alfian and say, “Assalamualaikum, Pontianak speaking.” Continue reading “3 Reasons Why Ghosts were Important to the Malays” »

How the Malays voted in GE13

Speaking at a news conference a day after the release of the results of the recent Malaysian general elections, Prime Minister Najib Razak stressed that: “On the whole, the people’s decision this time shows a trend of voting polarization…This worries the government, because if it’s not handled well, it could spark tension.” These comments were made in light of the premier’s knee-jerk observation that the increasingly politicised Chinese community have now swung towards the opposition unlike Malays who are firmly in support of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

Compelling as such reasoning can be, Najib Razak’s reflex reaction towards BN’s worst defeat since 1969 masks the deeper nuances of voting patterns and trends in Malaysia. While the results of the 13th general elections (GE13) provides evidence that the Chinese-Malay divide in Malaysian politics have indeed manifest itself at the ballot box, there are other developments within the Malay populace in the country that have become more apparent and may follow a more protracted course in the coming years. Continue reading “How the Malays voted in GE13” »