April 14th, 2012

Vaisakhi: The legacy of the 'Lion of Hindustan'

AT a time when invaders marched into lands for glory and wealth, when innocent men, women and children were massacred, enslaved and raped, when towers of heads of children were erected for the wicked pleasures of an emperor, when mothers were forced to eat the flesh of their children, and when intolerance destroyed places of worship, libraries and everything in their path, there rose a man to challenge the wicked.

He brought  the Mughal empire to its knees and gifted the world "The Khalsa". That man was  Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth holy guru of the Sikhs.

 Born in 1666 to Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji who was martyred at Delhi by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Guru Gobind,  or Gobind Rai as he was known then, became a guru when he was just 9.  

 He was a brilliant poet, scholar, a tactical general and an astute politician. Above all,  he was a very spiritual and God-fearing  man.  


Sikhs praying during the Vaisakhi celebrations at Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya last year.

The atrocities committed by the Mughals  demoralised the society during that  period. Guru Gobind  transformed  ordinary people into powerful warriors and   altered the course of the history of India.

 In the year 1699, the Guru Gobind   called his followers for a meeting in  Anandpur Sahib during the annual harvest festival of Baisakhi (or Vaisakhi).

 During the meeting,  Guru Gobind tested his followers by holding a sword in his hands and asking for a head.  One man volunteered.   The guru took him  into a tent  and  returned  with a bloodstained sword.

 He  asked for another  volunteer,   took him into the tent and emerged with  blood dripping from his sword. The guru demanded  another head and did the same thing to the next three volunteers.

 Finally, all  five volunteers came out of the tent in new clothing -- unharmed. This was  only a test.  

  Guru Gobind  then blessed them and gave them amrit (nectar) and with the cry of Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh, he  initiated them as the first "Sikhs" of the Khalsa with the title "Singh", meaning lion, attached at the back of the names of these new Sikhs.

 The  guru then  knelt  and asked the five  to initiate him as a member.  He was given the amrit and when he stood up, Gobind Rai became Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the lion of Hindustan.

 He formed the Khalsa.    These spiritual warriors defended the weak and fought for justice.  Despite the battles and hardship they had to endure, they never forgot the teachings of their gurus, starting with their first guru -- Guru Nanak Ji.  

 As an example, during a terrible battle, the city was surrounded by Mughal soldiers. Water and food supplies were cut off.

A Sikh by the name of Bhai Kanhaiya carried a goat skin water pouch serving anyone who needed water, including the enemy.

 News reached  Guru Gobind  that Bhai Kanhaiya was giving water to the enemies.

He was summoned by the guru who   asked him: "Do you feed water to the enemy and they recover to fight again, is this true?"

 Bhai Kanhaiya replied: "Yes, my Guru, what they say is true. But Maharaj, I saw no Mughal or Sikh on the battlefield. I saw only human beings. Guru ji, have you not taught us to treat all people the same?"

 Guru Gobind was delighted  and he embraced Bhai Kanhaiya and said: "You have understood the true message of Gurbani."  

The guru then gave Bhai Kanhaiya some medical ointment to  heal the wounds  of  the enemies, too.

 We find that some great men in history were given titles -- such as Alexander the Great  -- but these rulers  committed ruthless atrocities against innocent people.

 Guru Gobind,  although a powerful man, never did such things. And in all the battles he fought, he had no personal ambition or territorial aim.

 Guru Gobind  not only inspired freedom, democracy, righteousness and self-sacrifice in people who were suppressed under the Mughals but also reignited the craving for brave deeds in a rightful way, and thus created a distinct breed  of people known as the Sikhs.

 The Sikhs since then have proved to be brave warriors against the British. Bhagat Singh, an Indian  freedom fighter, and many more Sikhs, gave their life for India's independence.

 Let us all wish our Sikh friends and fellow Malaysians "Happy Vaisakhi".

By Ariff Shah R.K., Penang | letters@nst.com.my

Tamil New Year: What matters is the celebration

FOR more than 5,000 years, the first day of the Tamil month of Chithirai has been celebrated as the new year for Tamils, without any declaration or official sanction from any authority.

It is sad that a few so-called learned people have made a minority proclamation that the first day of the Tamil month of Thai is the Tamil new year. No one seriously objected to them celebrating it their own way. But, a vast majority of Tamils celebrated that day as Thai Ponggal day.

Unfortunately, a few years ago, then chief minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi, interfered in the free-thinking of the very liberal Tamil community and enforced a proclamation that Thai Ponggal day (which falls in January) is the Tamil New Year Day.


Sweets like ladoo are a must to make Tamil New Year more memorable.

His government also ordered Hindu temples under the control of the Tamil Nadu government not to conduct prayers on the first of Chithirai as Tamil New Year. This order was completely ignored by tens of millions of Tamils who flocked to temples and insisted the day was New Year's Day for them.

This law has been rescinded by the present Tamil Nadu government under J. Jayalalitha, which has now declared the first day of Chithirai as the new year of Tamils.

Government interference in this matter was unnecessary. We cannot call this a Hindu new year because not all Hindus celebrate this day as their new year. Each region or state in India celebrates its new year on different days.

The Tamil calendar has been evolved by great ancient astronomers and astrologers in the most scientific way based on the rotation of the planets, the sun and the movement of the moon.

The months may have been given puranic names, but they do not deviate from scientific origin, similar to most Asian countries, though they may differ as to the date of their respective new years.

The president of the Malaysia Hindu Sangam, Mohan Shan, and the president of the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Devasthanam, Kuala Lumpur, Datuk R. Nadarajah, are perfectly right in declaring Nanthana Year on April 13 (today) as the Tamil New Year Day.

They are the leaders of two very large and well-established non-governmental organisations and they have internationally recognised experts to guide them.

It is my opinion that Tamils should not quarrel as to who is right or wrong. We should stop questioning the individual rights of others. Let those who wish to celebrate the first day of Thai as their new year to do so.

I, however, join the vast majority of Tamils in the world who will celebrate the Tamil New Year today, the first day of Chithirai.

To those who do not agree with this, please carry on as you please and I shall always wish you well.

Today is New Year for most Tamils. Tomorrow is Vaisakhi for the Sikhs. It's Vishu to the Malayalees, New Year for the Sinhalese and Songkran for the Thais. There are similar festivities in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and many other nations in Asia.

To all who celebrate, my warmest wishes for a blessed and peaceful new year ahead.

Putthaandu nalvalthukkal.

By Datuk A. Vaithilingam, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 13 April 2012

Seruan agungkan Allah

SURAH al-Mudassir diturunkan selepas surah al-Muzammil. Keseluruhan ayat ini berjumlah 56 ayat. Ia termasuk dalam kategori surah Makkiyyah.

Hubungan surah ini dengan surah yang sebelumnya:

* Permulaan surah ini sama dengan surah yang sebelumnya kerana ia dimulakan dengan seruan kepada Nabi SAW.

* Permulaan kedua-dua surah ini dengan surah yang sebelumnya diturunkan berkaitan dengan satu kisah.

* Surah terdahulu dimulakan agar mengerjakan ibadah qiamullail yang merupakan kesempurnaan serta keperibadian Nabi SAW, manakala surah ini dimulai dengan memberi peringatan kepada orang lain dan perkara ini lambang kesempurnaan kepada orang tersebut.

Firman Allah SWT: Hai orang yang berselimut. Bangunlah, lalu berilah peringatan! (al-Mudassir: 1-2)

Ulama telah khilaf di mana ada yang berpendapat ayat ini yang pertama diturunkan sedangkan jumhur ulama berpendapat bahawa permulaan surah al-'Ala' adalah yang pertama.

Ibnu Kathir berkata: Bersedialah untuk menyatukan tekad dan berilah peringatan kepada umat manusia sehingga dengan semua itu akan tercapai misi kerasulan sebagaimana dengan ayat pertama telah tercapai misi kenabian.

Sayid Qutub berkata: Juga mengandungi bimbingan-bimbingan untuk Rasulullah SAW, supaya membuat persediaan yang cukup untuk melaksanakan tugas yang besar itu dan supaya memperjuangkannya mengikut arahan-arahan Allah SWT yang berikut.

Seorang pendakwah yang mengajak manusia kepada Tuhannya Yang Maha Besar lagi Maha Tinggi tidak akan dapat melakukan yang demikian, kecuali jika dia berakhlak mulia dan mempunyai sifat-sifat yang terpuji.

Firman Allah SWT: Dan Tuhanmu agungkanlah! (al-Mudassir: 3)

Ibnu Jauzi berkata: Hendaklah kamu mengagungkan Tuhanmu lebih daripada penyembah-penyembah berhala mengagungkan tuhan-tuhan mereka.

Al-Maraghi berkata: Muliakanlah Tuhanmu dan Pemilik segala urusanmu dengan beribadah kepada-Nya dan penuhkan harapan kepada-Nya tanpa menyekutukan-Nya dengan sesuatu.

Firman Allah SWT: Dan pakaianmu bersihkanlah (al-Mudassir: 4)

Ulama telah khilaf kepada beberapa pendapat, antaranya:

* Ibnu Abbas pernah ditanya tentang perkara tersebut. Maka jawabnya: Janganlah kamu memakainya untuk niat melakukan maksiat dan memungkiri janji. Kemudian beliau berkata: Tidakkah kamu mendengar madah Ghaylan ibnu Maslamah al-Thaqafi:

Alhamdulillah! Aku tidak mempunyai pakaian jahat yang kupakai, aku juga tidak mempunyai pakaian ingkar yang kusenangi.

* Orang Arab mengatakan seseorang yang telah mungkir janji dan tidak menepatinya, dia dianggap mengotorkan pakaian. Tetapi apabila dia menepati janji dan tidak mungkir janji, maka mereka mengatakan bahawa pakaiannya bersih.

* Samu'al ibn 'Adiya merupakan seorang Yahudi berkata pula: Jika orang tidak mengotorkan kehormatannya dengan celaan maka segala pakaian yang dikenakannya itu indah dan cantik.

* Jangan jadi pakaian kamu daripada sumber yang tidak bersih, ini juga pendapat Ibnu Abbas.

* Amalan kamu hendaklah kamu perelokkannya seperti pendapat ad-Dahak.

* Akhlakmu hendaklah kamu perbaikkannya seperti pendapat al-Hasan dan al-Qurazi.

* Pakaianmu hendaklah pendekkan dan singsingnya (sebagai bersungguh-sungguh dalam berusaha) seperti pendapat Taws.

* Hatimu hendaklah kamu bersihkan, inilah pendapat Said bin Jubir.

Makna-makna yang demikian ini tetap digunakan di Mesir dan negeri-negeri yang lain. Antara ungkapan seperti mereka mengatakan, Fulanun tahiru'dh dhayl, bagi menunjukkan si polan itu tidak bersentuhan dengan seorang perempuan sama sekali.

Sejumlah imam berpendapat bahawa yang dimaksudkan dengan taharatu'th thiyab, adalah mencuci pakaian itu dengan air kerana terkena najis. Pendapat yang demikian juga diriwayatkan oleh ramai sahabat dan tabiin.

Pendapat itu turut dipilih oleh imam al-Syafi'e sehingga beliau mewajibkan untuk mencuci najis dan pakaian bagi orang yang mengerjakan solat.

Orang yang mahir dengan ilmu-ilmu perundangan dan ahli ilmuan sosial di Eropah berpendapat bahawa manusia yang paling kotor tubuh badan dan pakaiannya adalah orang yang paling banyak berbuat dosa.

Manakala orang yang paling bersih badan dan pakaiannya adalah orang yang paling jauh daripada melakukan dosa.

Oleh sebab itu, mereka memerintahkan kepada orang tahanan agar kerap mandi dan membersihkan pakaian sehingga akhlak mereka akan menjadi baik. Akhirnya mereka keluar dari penjara dengan akhlak yang begitu baik.

Menurut pendapat Professor Bentham dalam bukunya, Usulu't Tashri' (The Principal of Morals and Legislation), "Sesungguhnya kebersihan yang banyak dalam agama Islam itu membawa pengikut-pengikut ke puncak ketinggian akhlak dan keistimewaannya, sekiranya mereka mengerjakan segala perintah agama mereka dengan sebaik-baiknya".

Firman Allah SWT: Dan perbuatan dosa tinggalkanlah. (al-Mudassir: 5)

Ulama tafsir menafsirkan maksud ayat ini kepada beberapa pendapat:

* Ia adalah berhala seperti kata Ibnu Abbas, Mujahid, Ikrimah, Qatadah, Zuhri, Suddi dan Ibnu Zaid.

* Ia adalah dosa seperti pendapat Ibnu Abbas juga.

* Ia adalah syirik inilah pendapat Ibnu Jubair dan ad-Dahak.

* Ini adalah kesalahan seperti pendapat al-Hasan.

* Ini adalah azab seperti pendapat Ibn as-Saib.

* Ia adalah syaitan seperti kata Ibnu Kaisan.

Firman Allah SWT: Dan janganlah kamu memberi (dengan maksud) memperoleh (balasan) yang lebih banyak. (al-Mudassir: 6)

Ayat ini ditafsirkan dengan empat pendapat:

* Jangan kamu memberi sesuatu dengan mengharap mendapat lebih baik seperti kata Ibnu Abbas, Ikrimah dan Qatadah.

* Jangan kamu mengungkit amalanmu dan membanyakkan ia atas Tuhanmu, inilah pendapat al-Hasan.

* Gandakan daripada kebaikan untuk memperbanyakan kerana berubah niat seperti pendapat Mujahid.

* Jangan kamu mengungkit akan kurniaan Allah kepadamu dengan kenabian untuk kamu mendapat balasan dan upah daripada mereka, inilah pendapat Ibnu Zaid.

Firman Allah SWT: Dan untuk (memenuhi perintah) Tuhanmu, bersabarlah. (al-Mudassir: 7)

Bimbingan-bimbingan ini diakhiri dengan pesanan bersabar sama seperti bimbingan dalam surah al-Muzzammil.

Sumber: Utusan Malaysia Online Bicara Agama 13/04/2012