January 13th, 2014

Teladani peribadi Rasulullah

Waktu solat KL & yang sewaktunya: Imsak - 5:53 || Subuh - 6:03 || Syuruk - 7:25 || Zohor - 13:25 || Asar - 16:47 || Maghrib - 19:21 || Isyak - 20:35 Isnin , 13 Januari 2014,


Zahirkan kecintaan dengan mengambil sirah, sunnah sebagai panduan

Perutusan Rasulullah SAW sebagai menyambung tradisi perjuangan Nabi dan Rasul terdahulu menegakkan kalimah Allah SWT seterusnya mengakhiri salasilah kerasulan yang memikul amanah menyampaikan risalah Islam kepada sekalian alam.

Perutusan Rasulullah SAW sebagai menyambung tradisi perjuangan Nabi dan Rasul terdahulu menegakkan kalimah Allah SWT seterusnya mengakhiri salasilah kerasulan yang memikul amanah menyampaikan risalah Islam kepada sekalian alam.


Allah SWT berfirman yang bermaksud: “Tidaklah Kami utuskan engkau (wahai Muhammad) melainkan untuk mendatangkan kerahmatan kepada seluruh alam.” (Surah al-Anbia, ayat 107)



Rasulullah SAW juga dikurniakan kitab suci al-Quran sebagai sumber rujukan dan pedoman berkekalan buat umat manusia menelusuri titian hidup penuh cabaran.

Justeru, sambutan Maulidur Rasul penting dengan harapan untuk menebalkan kecintaan kepada Baginda SAW. Sesungguhnya Rasulullah SAW adalah insan paling dicintai memandangkan Baginda insan contoh atau manusia mithali dalam serba serbinya.

Umat Islam diperintahkan Allah SWT supaya meneladani dan mencontohi kehidupan Rasulullah SAW selaras dengan firman-Nya yang bermaksud: “Demi sesungguhnya adalah bagi kamu pada diri Rasulullah itu contoh ikutan yang baik, iaitu bagi orang yang sentiasa mengharapkan (keredaan Allah) dan (balasan baik) hari akhirat, serta dia pula menyebut dan mengingati Allah banyak-banyak (dalam masa susah dan senang).” (Surah al-Ahzab, ayat 21)

Zahir kecintaan terhadap Rasulullah

Menyatakan kecintaan kepada Rasulullah SAW, ia tidak cukup sekadar dizahirkan melalui kata-kata pujian dan sambutan, tetapi akan menjadi lebih bermakna jika dizahirkan dengan meneladani sirah Baginda sebagai pemimpin, panglima angkatan perang, sahabat, suami, bapa dan manusia biasa.

Pendek kata, Rasulullah SAW memiliki banyak dimensi dan sudut patut dicontohi umat Islam sejagat. Disebabkan itu, sirah serta sunnah Baginda tetap relevan kepada umat Islam dari dulu, kini dan selamanya.

Kehidupan Rasulullah SAW menyediakan jawapan ampuh yang berupaya memecahkan segala persoalan dan masalah dihadapi manusia moden dewasa ini kerana ia sebenarnya manifestasi menyeluruh dari inti pati al-Quran.

Saidatina Aisyah apabila ditanya mengenai akhlak Baginda SAW menjawab: “Sesungguhnya akhlak Rasulullah SAW adalah akhlak al-Quran.” (Riwayat Muslim)

Dunia kini sedang menyaksikan ramai umat manusia semakin tersasar daripada landasan yang lurus. Natijahnya, ramai manusia tertipu dengan godaan dunia yang mempesona, indeks keruntuhan akhlak semakin merudum dan kesejahteraan hidup mulai pupus.

Dalam erti kata lain, hidup ini seolah-olah ketiadaan bimbingan dan panduan, dada umat manusia pula dipenuhi penyakit jiwa serta hilangnya petunjuk serta rahmat dalam kehidupan.

Sebenarnya konsep untuk manusia hidup bahagia itu ada, namun ia ditinggalkan. Begitu juga jalan menuju kesejahteraan hidup sudah jelas termaktub dalam kitab suci al-Quran, tetapi diingkari.

Islam yang diutuskan Allah SWT melalui Rasulullah SAW sudah menyediakan jalan terbaik ke arah kesejahteraan dan kebahagiaan hidup. Islam sarat dengan hukum hakam dan ajaran suci yang mampu menjamin manusia menyelesaikan segala masalah yang melanda serta menjadi penawar semua penyakit kehidupan.

Allah SWT berfirman yang bermaksud: “Wahai umat manusia! Sesungguhnya telah datang kepada kamu al-Quran yang menjadi nasihat pengajaran dari Tuhan kamu, dan yang menjadi penawar bagi penyakit batin yang ada dalam dada kamu dan menjadi hidayah petunjuk untuk keselamatan serta membawa rahmat bagi orang beriman.” (Surah Yunus, ayat 57)

Al-Quran penyuluh hidup

Al-Quran juga adalah hidayah petunjuk ke jalan diredai Allah yang memimpin manusia mencapai kebahagiaan dunia dan akhirat. Al-Quran secara khusus menjadi sinaran rahmat yang menyuluhi setiap detik kehidupan orang yang beriman.

Ini adalah seruan suci Allah SWT kepada umat manusia supaya mereka dapat hidup bahagia di dunia dan akhirat dengan syarat berpegang teguh dengan ajaran dan hukum hakam yang telah ditetapkan-Nya.

Risalah Islam diturunkan sebagai satu cara hidup yang lengkap dan menyeluruh buat mengatur kehidupan manusia sejagat ke arah kebahagiaan abadi di bawah keredaan Ilahi. Ini bermakna jalan keluar sudah sedia ada, penawar di depan mata, maka terserahlah kepada umat manusia memilih sama ada hendak hidup berbahagia atau sebaliknya.

Akhirnya, umat Islam wajib bermuhasabah dan merenungi diri nasib mereka yang sudah sekian lama tercalar. Maka, inilah masanya untuk kembali kepada al-Quran dan sunnah Rasulullah SAW, mudah-mudahan dapat memartabatkan kembali imej sebagai umat terbaik dan umat contoh.

Setiap Muslim seharusnya bersama mencontohi kehidupan Rasulullah SAW dalam setiap aspek supaya keadilan Islam dapat menghiasi kembali kemakmuran bumi Allah SWT dan Islam menerajui kepimpinan manusia ke arah keharmonian, kesaksamaan dan kesejahteraan.


Dr Engku Ahmad Zaki Engku Alwi Berita Harian Online Agama 13/01/2014

Hormati keputusan mahkamah kekal keharmonian

Pematuhan mampu pelihara kepentingan antara agama, awam serta keamanan negara

Isu kalimah Allah kian menjadi hangat dan kontroversi. Isu agama dan isu kaum adalah isu sensitif di Malaysia. Lebih-lebih lagi apabila isu itu dipolitikkan oleh pembangkang sehingga menimbulkan reaksi yang tidak sihat dalam kalangan rakyat. Tidak mustahil sekiranya ia tidak dibendung Malaysia boleh terbabit dalam krisis antara penganut agama.


Peruntukan Perkara 11(4) dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan jelas sekali memberikan kebebasan dan batasan dalam kegiatan beragama supaya sensitiviti agama dapat diatasi. Enakmen Agama Bukan Islam Negeri Selangor (Kawalan Pengembangan Di Kalangan Bukan Islam) 1988 memperincikan batasan ini supaya tidak timbul polemik yang boleh menyebabkan ketegangan.


Sultan, Raja-Raja dan Yang di-Pertuan Agong secara undang-undang telah dikanunkan sebagai Ketua Agama bagi negeri-negeri. Sultan Selangor, umpamanya mempunyai bidang kuasa dalam perjalanan Majlis Agama Islam Selangor dan agensi pengurusannya, Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS).

Apabila isu penggunaan kalimah Allah berbangkit, sebahagian besar Majlis Agama Negeri sudah mempunyai peraturan yang tidak membenarkan kalimah Allah digunakan dan kalimah yang berkaitan dengan al-Quran dan Islam daripada disalahgunakan.

Hal ini boleh difahami kerana sejak zaman penjajah lagi usaha pengkristianan terjadi. Gerakan evangelis Kristian amat aktif di rantau ini, terutama di Indonesia. Di Belanda sebuah pusat melatih kader evangelis ke Indonesia diwujudkan.

Ketegasan Haron Din tak dihiraukan

Ada asas umat Islam memiliki kebimbangan dengan maksud tersirat dalam kalangan evangelis Kristian. Pertemuan evangelis Kristian di Jepun dan Indonesia beberapa tahun lalu mempunyai fokus bagaimana Kristianisasi boleh terjadi di rantau ini, termasuk di Malaysia.

Lebih menyedihkan ialah kalangan ahli politik pembangkang bersetuju kalimah Allah digunakan dalam Bible versi Melayu dan majalah The Herald Tribune. Ini menyebabkan kalangan umat Islam berselisih pendapat dan menyebabkan pihak lain berasa gagah untuk perjuangkan kalimah Allah untuk agama mereka.

Pendirian Ketua Dewan Ulama PAS, Datuk Harun Taib dan ketegasan Timbalan Mursyidul Am PAS, Datuk Dr Haron Din mengenai kalimah Allah eksklusif untuk agama Islam, nampaknya tidak diberi perhatian.

Kenyataan Paderi Katolik Lawrence Andrew supaya semua gereja Katolik di Selangor terus menggunakan kalimah Allah dalam perhimpunan mingguan mereka dan rampasan JAIS terhadap 351 naskhah Bible versi Bahasa Melayu dan bahasa Iban yang mengandungi kalimah Allah menghangatkan lagi isu ini.

Pelihara keamanan

Peruntukan dalam Perlembagaan dan Enakmen Majlis Agama Islam Negeri sememangnya mengakui bidang kuasa Sultan dan Raja, malah Mahkamah Rayuan sudah memutuskan pada 14 Oktober 2013 tidak membenarkan kalimah Allah digunakan The Herald Tribune untuk seksyen bahasa Melayunya.

Penganut, pengembang dan pemimpin agama di Malaysia harus menghormati Perlembagaan, undang-undang dan enakmen yang ada kerana ia bermaksud memelihara kepentingan antara agama, kepentingan awam dan juga keamanan negara.

Apa yang pernah berlaku di Lubnan satu ketika dulu antara Phalangist Kristian dengan umat Islam diharapkan dijauhkan Allah daripada berlaku di Malaysia. Ia harus menjadi iktibar.

Menjadi kewajipan setiap pihak mematuhi Perlembagaan, undang-undang dan keputusan mahkamah supaya sensitiviti tidak dilanggar dan provokasi tidak terjadi. Sudah sekian lama kita hidup aman damai dan mengapa secara tiba-tiba, isu kalimah Allah menyebabkan hubungan antara agama menjadi tegang.


Dr Sidek Baba ialah Profesor Pendidikan di Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA). Berita Harian Online Rencana 13/01/2014

Tidakkah kau dengar suara Tuhanmu?

SEJAK lama dahulu, manusia cuba untuk memahami alam ini. Mereka membuat pelbagai kajian tentang alam semesta, penciptaan manusia, haiwan, tumbuh-tumbuhan dan sebagainya. Pelbagai uji kaji dilakukan, banyak penemuan dan teori diperkenalkan, khususnya oleh ahli-ahli sains dari Barat. Bagaimanapun, selepas penemuan-penemuan itu disahkan, mereka terkejut kerana rupa-rupanya semua itu telah dinyatakan dengan jelas 1,400 tahun dahulu oleh kitab suci al-Quran!

Tidakkah Kau Dengar Suara Tuhanmu? ialah sebuah buku yang menghidangkan pelbagai bukti dan hujah tentang keagungan mukjizat al-Quran.Ia bukan saja tidak pernah bercanggah, malah jauh mendahului sains. Bagaimanapun, sebahagian manusia masih tidak sedar, atau masih angkuh untuk mengakui keagungannya.

Antara lain buku ini mengupas penjelasan al-Quran dalam bidang astronomi, penciptaan alam semesta, oseanografi, fizik, perubatan dan fitrah haiwan, yang semuanya mengejutkan para saintis sehingga ramai antara mereka yang telah memeluk Islam.

Artikel-artikel itu merupakan himpunan daripada ruangan Al-Quran dan Sains yang disiarkan oleh majalah Infiniti. Penyumbang maklumat kepada setiap artikel itu pula ialah Profesor Madya Dr. Mohd. Arip Kasmo, Pensyarah Pusat Pengajian Umum, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Dapatkan buku ini kerana artikel-artikel yang disiarkan sangat perlu dijadikan koleksi bagi meningkatkan lagi keimanan kita kepada Allah SWT.

Istimewanya buku ini ialah ia dipersembahkan secara berwarna dan disertakan dengan fakta-fakta ringkas sebagai maklumat sokongan bagi memudahkan pembacaan. Fakta-fakta itu pula dipersembahkan secara santai dan senang difahami.

Buku ini sangat menarik dan sesuai dibaca oleh semua peringkat umur, setebal 196 halaman dan mula berada di pasaran mulai pertengahan Disember 2013. Hanya RM15 senaskhah.

Antara artikel paling menarik:

- Ombak di atas ombak

- Keluarnya api dari dasar laut

- Ubun-ubun yang menipu

- Di sebalik nama Haman

- Hujan keluar dari celah awan

- Alam yang semakin mengembang

- Matahari dan bulan berenang di laluannya

- Al-Quran mengira kelajuan cahaya

- Al-Quran menguak kiraan E=Mc2

- Pemisah antara lautan dan banyak lagi.



Utusan Malaysia Online Bicara Agama 20140112

Tidak layak semat satu pun nama Allah

KALIMAH Allah hanya untuk umat yang bersaksi bahawa tiada Tuhan yang disembah melainkan Allah dan Nabi Muhammad SAW ialah utusan Allah. Inilah ayat yang terpampang pada kulit buku ini.

Ungkapan kalimah ini juga kini hebat dibincangkan dan mahu dipertahankan oleh umat Islam negara ini daripada pengaruh pihak Kristian.

Secara rasmi Kerajaan Malaysia telah melarang perkataan Allah dalam Injil yang tersebar di negara ini pada 2007. Namun Mahkamah Tinggi pada 2009 membatalkan keputusan itu atas alasan keputusan itu bertentangan dengan Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Kerajaan Malaysia telah mengajukan rayuan dan Mahkamah Tinggi telah menundakan pelaksanaan hasil keputusan tersebut sehingga rayuan pihak satu lagi diajukan.

Kerajaan Malaysia berpendapat penggunaan perkataan Allah ialah khas milik umat Islam sahaja.

Bagi pihak penganut Kristian pula tetap bertegas hendak mengguna perkataan Allah di dalam kitab Injil dengan alasan tertentu yang pasti bukan sekadar alasan bahasa tetapi ada misi yang mahu dikembangkan di sebalik penggunaan perkataan Allah itu.

Setelah menyelusuri pelbagai sumber ilmiah yang berkait dengan konsep keagamaan Kristian, penulis buku ini Ahmad Dzikran menyimpulkan beberapa perkara.

Pertama, Allah ialah nama Tuhan yang diseru oleh semua Nabi dan Rasul sejak Nabi Adam AS hingga Nabi Muhammad SAW.

Kedua, terjadinya penyimpangan konsep, ajaran dan doktrin kepercayaan Kristian yang tercampur dengan mitologi dan budaya jahiliah seperti konsep Triniti, Hari Natal dan Simbol Salib.

Ketiga, berlaku pemalsuan dalam penyusunan al-Kitab sama ada dalam Perjanjian Lama ataupun Perjanjian Baharu.

Keempat, terjadi pula penyimpangan konsep ketuhanan yang menggandingkan nama Allah dengan sifat-sifat lain antaranya memiliki anak, wujud diri dalam tiga komponen yang berbeza (triniti), dosa warisan yang ditanggung anak-anak Adam kerana makan buah terlarang di Syurga.

Kelima, kitab yang didakwa sebagai kitab samawi tetapi mencampurkan mitologi jahiliah dalam nama Allah dan banyak mengalami perubahan, jadi dengan sendirinya tidak boleh disebut kitab suci samawi lagi. Oleh itu kitab itu pun tidak layak memuatkan nama Allah dalam seluruh ayatnya.

Nama Allah yang diguna dalam al-Quran bersih dan suci daripada konsep unsur-unsur syirik.

Ajaran dalam kitab Injil telah melencong jauh daripada risalah tauhid para Nabi dan Rasul.

Ahmad Dzikran merumuskan mubaligh Kristian menggunakan perkataan Allah dalam Injil semata-mata untuk kepentingan Kristianisasi di rantau Asia Tenggara yang majoritinya bangsa Melayu Muslim.

Melalui penggunaan perkataan Allah ini, mubaligh mengharapkan akan muncul perasaan persamaan asas teologi antara umat Islam sehingga memudahkan untuk terjadinya dialog demi misi Kristianisasi.

Kristian tidak layak menyematkan satu pun nama Allah dalam seluruh isi kitab Injil kecuali mereka bersedia dan jujur untuk meninggalkan triniti dan kembali meyakini ajaran tauhid.



Utusan Malaysia Online Bicara Agama 20140112

Hormati ulama demi kesejahteraan Islam

ESOK, seluruh umat Islam akan memperingati hari kelahiran junjungan besar Nabi Muhammad SAW. Sesungguhnya Allah SWT berfirman dalam surah Al-Anbia ayat 107 bermaksud: “Tidak Kami utuskan kamu (Muhammad) melainkan membawa rahmat ke seluruh alam."

Sememangnya terlalu banyak yang harus kita teladani dan contohi daripada Rasullullah SAW termasuklah mematuhi segala pesanan baginda.

Salah satu perkara yang boleh kita kaji dan hayati ialah sabda baginda yang bermaksud: ‘‘ Sesungguhnya ulama adalah pewaris para nabi. Para nabi tidak mewariskan dinar dan dirham. Mereka hanya mewariskan ilmu maka barangsiapa mengambil warisan tersebut ia telah mengambil bagian yang banyak." (Diriwayatkan Al-Imam At-Tirmidzi)

Berdasarkan kepada hadis ini, amat wajar sekali umat Islam menghormati golongan ulama termasuklah mufti-mufti.

Dalam memperkatakan hal ini, penulis ingin merujuk kenyataan Mufti Kelantan, Datuk Mohamad Shukri Mohamad, kelmarin yang melahirkan rasa kecewa apabila institusi ulama serta umarak (pemerintah) kini sudah tidak lagi dihormati dan menyifatkan situasi tersebut adalah fenomena terbaru melanda negara.

Beliau berkata, sekiranya kedua-dua institusi berkenaan dihormati dan dipatuhi, situasi seperti penggunaan kalimah Allah dalam kalangan bukan Islam dan penghinaan terhadap Islam yang semakin membimbangkan sejak akhir-akhir ini ti dak akan berlaku.

Inilah situasi yang berlaku di negara kita sekarang, suara ulama semakin tenggelam, kalau ada ulama yang bersuara biar pun ia bertaraf mufti bagi menegur sesuatu perkara ia akan dikecam dan paling malang dimaki hamun. Keadaan itu terjadi kerana ada dalam kalangan umat Islam lebih menyerapkan semangat kepartian dalam hati mereka sehingga mana-mana ulama yang dilihat membuat kenyataan tidak bersesuaian dengan kehendak mereka akan ditolak mentah-mentah.

Keadaan itu bertambah parah, apabila golongan ulama sendiri kadang kala ‘dipecahkan’ kerana menganggotai kelompok tertentu dan ia sudah tentulah menjadi lebih rumit apabila mereka berada dalam sesebuah parti politik.

Bagaimanapun ada juga dalam kalangan ulama ini tetap berpegang teguh kepada pendirian Islam dalam sesuatu isu seperti mana yang dibuktikan oleh Ketua Dewan Ulama Pas, Datuk Harun Taib yang menyokong penuh tindakan Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) dalam isu rampasan kitab Bible versi bahasa Melayu yang mempunyai kalimah Allah.

Namun begitu ulama tetap ulama dan mereka harus dihormati serta perlu melakukan tindakan supaya mereka dihormati. Ini memandangkan di dalam Islam golongan ulama diletakkan pada kedudukan yang cukup tinggi.

Al-Imam Asy-Syaukani ra dalam kitab Fathul Qadir berkata: ‘‘Sesungguhnya Allah SWT menjadikan mereka sebagai umat di tengah-tengah agar mereka menjadi saksi atas sekalian manusia, mereka mendapat kemuliaan demikian kerana mereka umat nabi yang terbaik dan sayyid bani Adam.’’

Justeru dalam keadaan umat Islam di negara ini sedang berhadapan dengan pelbagai cabaran dan tindakan-tindakan yang dilihat semakin mencabar kesabaran mereka, golongan ulama harus memainkan peranan penting bagi menyatukan mereka, dan dalam masa sama pula, umat Islam perlu mendengar dan mematuhi nasihat golongan ulama bagi memastikan agama Islam tidak diperlekehkan dengan sewenang-wenangnya.

Cuba fikirkan, ketika ada antara kita begitu seronok memaki hamun sesetengah ulama atas dasar politik, apakah tindakan yang sama dilakukan oleh bukan Islam terhadap pemimpin-pemimpin agama mereka? Sudah pasti tidak, sebaliknya ada antara umat Islam sanggup berbuat demikian hanya kerana mereka merasakan hanya ulama dalam kalangan mereka sahaja yang harus dipatuhi.

Asy-Syaikh Shalih Fauzan mengatakan: “Kita wajib memuliakan ulama muslimin kerana mereka adalah pewaris para nabi, maka meremehkan mereka termasuk meremehkan kedudukan dan warisan yang mereka ambil daripada Rasulullah SAW serta meremehkan ilmu yang mereka bawa. Barang siapa terjatuh dalam perbuatan ini tentu mereka akan lebih meremehkan kaum muslimin.

‘‘Ulama adalah orang yang wajib kita hormati kerana kedudukan mereka di tengah-tengah umat dan tugas yang mereka pikul untuk kemaslahatan Islam dan muslimin. Kalau mereka tidak mempercayai ulama, lalu kepada siapa mereka percaya. Kalau kepercayaan telah menghilang daripada ulama, lalu kepada siapa kaum muslimin mengembalikan semua masalah hidup mereka dan untuk menjelaskan hukum-hukum syariat, maka di saat itulah akan terjadi kebimbangan dan terjadinya huru-hara." (Al-Ajwibah Al-Mufidah, halaman 140).

Sama ada hendak akui atau tidak, situasi umat Islam di negara ini semakin tergugat kerana rapuhnya perpaduan sesama mereka. Sikap tidak mahu mendengar dan mematuhi pesanan serta nasihat ulama memburukkan lagi keadaan.

Apabila keadaan ini berterusan ia dianggap peluang terbaik oleh pihak-pihak tertentu untuk mengambil kesempatan melemahkan lagi umat Islam dan membangkitkan agenda demi kepentingan agama mereka.

Sebab itulah Mohamad Shukri mengingatkan, apabila institusi agama dan umarak ini diperkecilkan maka kehebatan, kewibawaan ulama dan pemerintah juga akan hilang sekali gus menyebabkan agama Islam mudah diperlekehkan.

Justeru sempena Maulid Rasul ini, umat Islam perlu bermuhasabah untuk melihat cabaran yang sedang mereka hadapi sekarang dan bagaimana memastikan kedudukan ulama benar-benar dimartabatkan. Umat Islam tidak harus leka dan terus berada dalam zon selesa dengan menganggap isu-isu berkaitan Islam sekarang bukan urusan mereka tetapi urusan pemerintah.

Sememangnya dari segi keselamatan ia urusan pemerintah atau umarah, tetapi sebagai umat Islam kita bertanggungjawab untuk bersama-sama mempertahankan kesucian agama Islam.

Sebab itulah atas apa alasan sekali pun, kita sama sekali tidak boleh memperkecilkan atau memperlekeh ulama apatah lagi jika ia bertaraf mufti. Ini memandangkan seorang mufti atau ulama sebenar tidak akan bercakap berdasarkan logik akal tetapi berdasarkan ilmu Allah yang mereka kuasainya.

Tindakan memperlekeh dan meminggir golongan ulama termasuklah mufti hanya akan mengundang petaka kepada seorang umat Islam. Atas hujah ini seorang ulama terkemuka pernah berkata,:

‘‘Mereka adalah orang-orang yang menjadi penyambung umat dengan Rabbnya, agama dan Rasulullah SAW. Mereka adalah orang yang akan memimpin umat kepada cinta dan reda Allah, menuju jalan yang dirahmati iaitu jalan yang lurus. Oleh kerana itu ketika seseorang melepaskan diri daripada mereka bererti dia telah melepaskan dan memutuskan tali yang kukuh dengan Rabbnya, agama dan rasul-Nya. Ini semua merupakan malapetaka yang dahsyat yang akan menimpa individu ataupun orang Islam. Bererti siapapun atau kelompok manapun yang meminggirkan ulama pasti akan tersesat jalannya dan akan binasa."

Dalam masa sama, kita juga ingin melihat golongan ulama untuk bersatu dalam satu saf tanpa mengira apa jua latar belakang mereka. Ini penting bagi menunjukkan penyatuan golongan itu bagi memandu umat Islam dalam berhadapan dengan tindakan biadab sesetengah pihak atau individu bukan Islam.



Zulkiflee Bakar Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 20140113

Mengapa tidak memilih bertoleransi?

"SAYA bersyukur Mufti dan umat Islam berdiri di belakang Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) kerana jika mereka tidak memberi pandangan sebegitu, maka itu adalah tragedi yang amat dahsyat dan menyedihkan kepada umat Islam."

Itu adalah antara kata-kata yang diluahkan bekas Yang Dipertua Majlis Agama Islam Pulau Pinang (MAIPP), Datuk Dr. Elias Zakaria ketika diminta pandangan mengenai polemik tindakan JAIS merampas Bible versi bahasa Melayu dan Iban yang mengandungi kalimah Allah di Selangor, Khamis lalu.

Tidak sukar memahami kekecewaan beliau itu kerana seperti umat Islam lain, tindakan Persatuan Bible Malaysia (BSM) yang tetap berdegil mahu mengedarkan kitab Bible versi bahasa Melayu yang mempunyai kalimah Allah benar-benar mengguris hati dan perasaan.

Begitu juga dengan tindakan Pengarang The Herald, Lawrence Andrew yang tetap berdegil mahu gereja Katolik di Selangor terus menggunakan kalimah Allah dalam perhimpunan mingguannya dalam bahasa Melayu meskipun Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) menghantar notis peringatan mengenai larangan penggunaan kalimah itu oleh bukan Islam.


Seorang wanita memegang poster semasa berarak mengadakan bantahan berhubung isu penggunaan kalimah ALLAH
bertempat di Batu Caves, Selangor, semalam.


BSM dan Andrew seolah-olah lupa setiap penganut agama tidak kira umat Islam, Buddha malah Kristian sendiri mempunyai sensitiviti terhadap agama masing-masing yang jika disentuh boleh mengundang rasa kurang selesa dan kemarahan.

Dalam isu ini, tindakan pemimpin Kristian yang berterusan mencabar penggunaan kalimah Allah dalam bahasa Melayu di sebalik larangan mahkamah sudah semestinya membuatkan umat Islam 'melompat'.

Apatah lagi terdapat perbezaan yang cukup jelas berhubung penggunaan kalimah Allah dalam merujuk kepada Tuhan bagi penganut Islam dan Kristian. Bagi umat Islam, kalimah Allah itu tidak direka-reka oleh umatnya melainkan menerusi pengisytiharan oleh Allah sendiri.

Islam juga mengajar umatnya Allah itu Esa, tidak beranak dan tidak juga diberanakkan serta tiada sekutu.

Namun, penganut Kristian percaya Allah itu bersekutu sekali gus jauh menyimpang daripada apa yang diyakini umat Islam.

Perbezaan sebeginilah yang menyebabkan umat Islam tidak boleh menerima kemahuan pihak Kristian menggunakan kalimah Allah kerana secara jelas mencabar kesucian kalimah itu seperti yang dipercayai umat Islam selama ini.

Penulis percaya, penganut mana-mana agama sekali pun sekiranya berdepan dengan ancaman terhadap kesucian agama mereka, tidak rela membiarkan perkara itu begitu sahaja.

Begitulah juga bagi umat Islam dalam isu ini yang malangnya, kemarahan itu seolah-olah tidak diambil peduli dan dipandang sebelah mata oleh BSM dan Andrew.

Paling mendukacitakan, pemimpin Kristian ini menunjukkan kedegilan mereka ketika banyak sebab tidak memihak kepada mereka.

Antaranya keputusan Mahkamah Rayuan yang melarang Gereja Katholik menggunakan kalimah Allah dalam penerbitan akhbar mingguannya.

Jika diikutkan, perkara ini juga tidak perlu sehingga diputuskan oleh mahkamah kerana perkataan-perkataan yang menjurus kepada agama Islam sudah digazetkan dan tidak boleh diguna sama oleh penganut agama lain.

Namun, itulah yang sudah terjadi dan umat Islam setakat ini boleh menarik nafas lega dengan keputusan mahkamah itu.

Persoalannya, jika umat Islam masih lagi mampu bertolak ansur dengan pemimpin Kristian meskipun sehingga dicabar di mahkamah, mengapa pemimpin Kristian tidak boleh mengambil pendekatan serupa?

Inilah perkara yang cukup dikesalkan kerana pemimpin Kristian dilihat lebih selesa mengambil tindakan bertentangan sehingga mengeruhkan keadaan.

Sebagai tokoh agama, pemimpin Kristian ini sudah semestinya lebih memahami bagaimana mahu mendepani isu-isu yang membabitkan pertembungan agama.

Apatah lagi berkaitan kalimah Allah yang diketahui mereka sudah digunakan umat Islam di negara ini sejak sekian lama.

Malah, isu ini juga menyentuh mengenai kedudukan Islam sebagai agama rasmi Persekutuan dalam Perlembagaan yang perlu ditangani dengan penuh berhati-hati dan teliti.

Malangnya ketika ini, mereka dilihat seolah-olah bertindak mengikut perasaan dan seperti mahu menunjukkan berkuasa serta mampu melakukannya. Tidakkah tindakan seperti itu semakin membangkitkan kemarahan umat Islam?

Pemimpin Kristian sebenarnya mempunyai pilihan yang lebih bijak dan harmoni dalam menangani isu ini.

Antaranya mengadakan perbincangan dengan pihak-pihak berkuasa agama seperti Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan, Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) , Mufti-mufti negeri dan banyak lagi.

Malah, mereka juga boleh meminta menghadap Sultan Selangor untuk berbincang mengenai isu itu khususnya yang berlaku di negeri tersebut.

Sebagai pemimpin agama Islam tertinggi, Sultan Selangor sudah semestinya mahu mendengar penjelasan pemimpin Kristian dan berbincang bagi mencari pendekatan terbaik dalam menangani isu ini kerana menyentuh mengenai akidah umat Islam yang dinaungi baginda.

Malangnya, sifat bertoleransi, saling menghormati dan memahami itu tidak dijadikan pilihan oleh pemimpin Kristian yang lebih selesa mengambil tindakan sendiri.

Hakikat ini cukup menyedihkan kerana umat Islam selama ini tidak pernah mempertikai kebebasan penganut Kristian serta penganut agama lain mempraktik kepercayaan masing-masing meskipun Islam merupakan agama rasmi Persekutuan.

Penganut agama lain selama ini bebas merayakan perayaan mengikut kepercayaan agama masing-masing tanpa sebarang sekatan atau gangguan.

Semuanya bertitik-tolak daripada sikap bertoleransi dan saling menerima perbezaan kaum dan agama dalam hidup bermasyarakat.

Namun, jika rasa hormat itu semakin dicabar dan dilanggar, maka hilanglah semangat keharmonian itu.

Kepada pemimpin Kristian yang terlibat, cubalah belajar untuk sama-sama menghormati perasaan dan sensitiviti umat Islam apatah lagi dalam perkara-perkara yang sudah dilindungi undang-undang dan Perlembagaan.

Jika tidak dilindungi undang-undang sekali pun, sebagai individu yang sudah tentu tinggi ilmu agamanya, mengapa sehingga tergamak mereka mencabar kesucian agama lain?



MOHD. KHUZAIRI ISMAIL pengarang@utusan.com.my Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 20140113

Learning from the Prophet

IN the year 628 AD, the Quraisy of Mecca and the state of Medina entered into the pivotal Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. The relationship between the two was hostile, to say the least, and the treaty was to establish peace between them.

Mecca was represented by its emissary Suhayl ibn Amr, while Medina was represented by Prophet Muhammad, the leader of Medina. After terms of the treaty were agreed it was to be put in writing, and the task was given to the Prophet's cousin, Ali ibn Abu Talib.

He first wrote "In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful" (Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim). Suhayl, objected, saying that he did not know of this 'ar-Rahman' and instead wanted to use the phrase commonly used by Arabs, Muslims or otherwise, which was; "In your name, O God" (Bismika Allahumma).

A few of the Prophet's Companions objected to this, but the Prophet told Ali to writeBismika Allahuma as requested by Suhayl instead.

The Prophet then asked Ali to write the next line; "These are the terms of the truce signed between Muhammad, messenger of God and Suhayl ibn Amir".

Again, Suhayl objected. The Quraisy did not acknowledge Muhammad as the messenger of God and it was for this reason, according to Suhayl, that they opposed him.

"Write instead 'Muhammad ibn Abdullah'." Ali had already written the first version and refused to change it.

But the Prophet asked Ali to show to him where the written phrase, since he could not read. He then wiped it out and asked Ali to write the phrase Suhayl wanted.

Ali did so and continued with the rest of the treaty. The agreement between Mecca and Medina was sealed.

This is one of my favourite anecdotes from the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Many of his Companions felt afterwards that the treaty was more beneficial to the Quraisy and disadvantageous to the people of Medina.

The covenant of the treaty would later be broken by the Quraisy, events which would eventually lead to the Prophet's victorious return to Mecca without any blood being spilled.

Even though the terms initially seemed to favour the Meccans, in the long run the Prophet was proven right.

I have always been passionate about the life and times of the Prophet.

I started young, reading picture books and stories of the Prophet and his Companions.

When I was older, I read biographies and commentaries about his life. With each new perspective gained, my respect and admiration for the Prophet grew.

The Prophet taught his followers that a person's worth before God is not the colour of his skin but the goodness of his heart. The Prophet freed slaves and constantly encouraged others to do so.

At the signing of the treaty, the Prophet could have insisted that he be known as the Messenger of God, yet this was not an issue for him. He could have also insisted to phrase Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim but he knew that it was more important to sign the treaty rather than get caught up with mere phrases.

At a time when women were ill-treated and discriminated against, the Prophet empowered them and elevated their status in society.

When infanticide of female babies was widespread amongst the Arabs, he forbade the barbaric practice. When he was insulted and pelted with stones in Taif, he did not retaliate nor did he ever bore a grudge against them.

When he came to Medina, he established the Constitution of Medina. The Constitution of Medina guaranteed religious, political and cultural rights to all the people of Medina, regardless of race or religion - centuries before the Magna Carta was signed and sealed.

For example, according to one account, an innocent Jewish man, maliciously accused by a Muslim of a crime he did not commit, obtained justice from the Prophet.

The Prophet also laid down rules of war, such as the prohibition on harming women, children and aged men, mutilating bodies and destroying plants and livestock.

There are many more lessons which one can and should learn from how the Prophet lived his life. For Muslims, there is no better role model. We have been enjoined to emulate the way he lived his life.

But have we done so?

We are selfish when he was selfless, we are greedy when he was generous, we are proud when he was humble, we are disrespectful when he was respectful, we are unkind when he treated others with kindness, we discriminate and persecute when he was a paragon of fairness and trust. We are quick to take offence when he was patient and rational. We deny and restrict rights when he guaranteed freedom for all.

Unfortunately, we have failed to learn from the enduring legacy of his life.

In our zeal to become the defenders of the religion, we Muslims have forgotten or ignored what the Prophet taught us.

The Prophet attracted many to embrace Islam, but the way we treat others paint a negative picture of the religion.

Why not take the opportunity, this Maulidur Rasul, to learn and re-learn the ways of the Prophet?

It will most not only make us better Muslims, but also teach many lessons on how to be good human beings to our fellow Malaysians.




SYAHREDZAN JOHAN The STAR Online Home Opinion Online Exclusive 13/01/2014

Take note of mental health

Don’t underestimate the symptoms, and don’t be embarrassed to seek professional help.

SINCE adolescence, I have always taken an interest in psychology and in studies of the human mind. Growing up, however, I realised that people in Malaysia tend to get very uncomfortable at the mention of a psychologist, or any mental health expert, for that matter.

Over the years, my attempts to initiate a random conversation with regard to a visit to a psychologist have always been brushed off or treated like a taboo, while many responded, “I don’t think people like us need a psychologist; we are not insane”.

So, clearly, Malaysians are unaware that psychologists or mental health experts provide services for more than just the mentally unstable. Worse still, many are also oblivious to the fact that getting some help from a psychologist would probably aid them in solving their sleepless nights and poor appetite.

In July last year, Bernama reported that our Deputy Health Minister, Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahaya, had said that 20% of the Malaysian population have mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression while 1% have more serious mental illnesses.

He said the Health Ministry has set up screening facilities at 806 health clinics, 40 hospitals and four mental hospitals nationwide to help detect these problems, while adding that there are 224 psychiatric specialists and 100 clinical psychiatric specialists nationwide.

Later in the year, The New Straits Times reported that deputy director-general of Health (Public Health), Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman, said our greying society (aged 50 and above) would mean more implications for the healthcare system with regard to mental and physical health.

He had said that this group would face declining health due to chronic diseases, loneliness due to isolation from family and society, lack of interest due to job loss, and financial problems due to the high cost of living. He added that the World Health Organisation predicted that depression, a mental illness, would take second spot affecting this group (aged 50 and above) after ischemic heart disease.

Considering these reports, we Malaysians are in for some serious mental health problems. Despite such facts, however, the people’s reluctance to acknowledge the issue still boggles my mind.

For Malaysians, and I do not limit this to the common public, illnesses like depression, stress and anxiety are taken very lightly. Treating such an illness never has a sense of urgency as people, including some doctors here, tend to assume that it is not as severe as a chronic illness, or even as harmful as a cough or a flu.

I say this because, in my personal experience, following a very severe anxiety attack, I met a doctor (a general practitioner), who explained to me that my physical symptoms were in line with an anxiety attack and that I should consider eating on time. That was it; there was no explanation on what an anxiety attack was and how I should overcome it as a whole.

After several visits to “Dr Google” and finally a visit to a psychologist I managed to eventually learn how to deal with the situation. Mind you, eating on time was actually listed as a method to aid in the prevention and recovery from anxiety, but was not sufficient to overcome the attack.

I realised, people have failed to understand that the mental state of an individual makes a difference in their well-being to a point that it can help prevent or overcome illness.

Over the last year or so, there have been about a dozen cases where people were found dead at their office desks, and post-mortem results revealed that it was due to prolonged stress. Although there have been no such cases in Malaysia, having a counsellor or a mental health expert as a part of the health perks and benefits when joining a company may actually bring about some positive outcome.

I am not saying people should run over to a psychologist for a minor headache. However, in cases where people are facing unexplained changes, such as a sudden inability to eat, constant headaches, inability to sleep, as well as restlessness and an unexplained frustration, it should all be looked into, as such symptoms may affect the overall health of an individual as well as their performance at work or even school.

What I am actually getting at is that mental health is something that should not be downplayed as in this case ignorance is definitely not bliss.

D . KANYAKUMARI is a health freak who hopes more Malaysians will pay attention to the thing that matters most – their health. She can be contacted at kanya@thestar.com.my. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. The STAR Online Home Opinion Columnist 13/01/2014

Work-Life Balance: Work should not be the entire point of living

THE recent Jobstreet.com survey findings that the majority of Malaysian employees work considerably long hours and, as a result, spend little quality family time and are unable to finish their annual leave entitlement, raise several important concerns.

In a recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) study, it was found that in industrialised countries, 22 per cent of the workforce surveyed worked more than 48 hours a week, an amount the ILO defines as excessive.

The corresponding estimate for developing countries was roughly twice that of industrialised countries -- about 45 per cent.

Among them, only Indonesia (51.2 per cent), Peru (50.9 per cent) and Thailand (46.7 per cent) were ahead of Malaysia (45 per cent, though other sources estimate it could be much higher).

Other industrialised Asian countries, where employees exceeded 48 hours a week, included the Republic of Korea (49.5 per cent) and Japan (39.3 per cent).

Of all countries surveyed, France has the shortest workweek, at 35 hours.


















A worker operating a songket loom. Companies sometimes overwork staff to meet production
targets. File pic

In the majority of countries today, the maximum workweek is 48 hours, including overtime, but there is provision for workers and employers to negotiate a longer schedule so long as the average number of hours worked per week does not exceed 48 over a given period.

Interestingly, the first ever international labour standard adopted by the ILO, at the time of its founding in 1919, stipulated the eight-hour workday and the 48-hour workweek, mainly to redress the exploitation of workers who were made to work long hours without consideration for their safety and health, family life or advancement.

With time, the ILO advocated and established an even lower global standard of a 40-hour workweek, mainly so that workers could carry out productive work alongside meeting their family responsibilities and fulfilling other essential aspects of their lives.

In view of these long-established and internationally recognised standards, one might ask: In situations where employees work excessively long hours, are regulatory laws observed and enforced?

What motivates employees to work long hours? And, of course, what implications do such work have on productivity, safety and health and other aspects of one's family life?

The above ILO study found that working time laws and policies often have limited influence on actual working hours in many developing economies, especially in terms of maximum weekly hours, overtime payments, exceptions and exemptions and informal employment.

Many workers may be compelled to work longer hours in order to earn a living or maximise their income, especially in times when living costs and dependency burdens increase. This could also occur in a country where the culture recognises long working hours as a sign of diligence, conscientiousness and efficiency.

Or, excessive working time occurs where the government does not restrict working hours or does not effectively enforce the law.

In some work situations, tight timelines often mean that companies are left in a position where employees must work beyond the working hours stipulated by legislation to meet targets.

In all of these instances, most workers often don't have a choice as protecting their work and looking forward to advancement, unfortunately, depend to a great extent on falling in line with such demands and practices.

From my experience as a coach for management trainers in developed and developing countries, it needs to be pointed out that even in industrialised countries, where there has been a greater recognition of family-life requirements, the situation is fast changing.

Putting in extra hours, in many cases uncompensated, to carry out and accomplish unrealistic workloads or to cope with a wide range of workplace demands that exceed the normal working time is becoming more the rule rather than the exception.

In theory, one can disagree with all of these practices and even have the guts to tell that to one's boss, but the reality is otherwise.

Workers who fail to comply or, worse, react negatively to such demands could be denied advancement, be replaced or even lose their jobs. Also, increasingly, the limitation or prohibition on trade union action to protect and promote workers' rights is another factor that allows such practices to continue.

On the flip side, though, the ILO study found that in many instances, both in developed and developing countries, there were enlightened employers, especially in workplaces where effective social protection and social dialogue exist, who pay employees decent wages, provide them a path to advance, ensure a safe and conducive working environment and observe hours of work and essential overtime as stipulated under laws.

More importantly, where employers and employees look to the best interests of each other and have a cordial working relationship, it is associated with significantly higher productivity and performance, a better working environment, healthier workers and enhanced job satisfaction and worker morale.

One way of dealing with the issue of excessive working time is to introduce at the workplace what's called "work-life balance", a concept that came into vogue in the past three decades or so.

It implies that one is able to dedicate an equal portion of time to work and other life's pursuits and responsibilities.

However, it is even more realistic and pragmatic to institute "work-life effectiveness".

It suggests striving for a situation where work effectively fits with other aspects of one's life.

Work-life effectiveness at the workplace, to ensure individuals work smarter and live better, focus on adjusting work style.

Some measures include:

AVOIDING unduly and constantly long hours of work;

KEEPING extra working time as an exception, to a minimum and compensating such work;

REDUCING work-related stress;

ELIMINATING causes that lead to burnout;

MANAGING unduly high volume, or unnecessary, communications and meetings;

SMARTER use of technology;

SETTING clear work parameters and realistic work expectations;

IMPROVING time management;

DEVELOPING prioritisation skills;

BOOSTING optimism and morale;

DEPLOYING the most conducive environment and practices for teamwork and cooperation;

IMPROVING safety, health and wellness; and,

SUPPORTING the most rewarding, satisfying and fulfilling work-life commitments and responsibilities.

An effective work-life programme is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to keep employees encouraged, engaged and energised. Without it, the default is to the red zone of stress, burnout and habits that drain productivity and drive up health costs and absenteeism.



Rueben Dudley, Petaling Jaya, Selangor NST Opinion Letters-to-the-editor

Statues for Stalin but not for Hitler

MASS MURDERERS: 25 million died under his rule, so why is Stalin seen as relatively more acceptable than Hitler?

HITLER and Stalin were ruthless dictators who committed murder on a vast scale.

But, while it is impossible to imagine a Hitler statue in Berlin, or anywhere else in Germany, statues of Stalin have been restored in towns across Georgia (his birthplace), and another is to be erected in Moscow as part of a commemoration of all Soviet leaders. The difference in attitude extends beyond the borders of the countries over which these men ruled.

In the United States, there is a bust of Stalin at the National D-Day Memorial in Virginia. In New York,

I recently dined at a Russian restaurant that featured Soviet paraphernalia, waitresses in Soviet uniforms, and a painting of Soviet leaders in which Stalin was prominent.

New York also has its KGB Bar.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no Nazi-themed restaurant in New York; nor is there a Gestapo or SS bar.

So, why is Stalin seen as relatively more acceptable than Hitler?

At a press conference last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted a justification.

Asked about Moscow's plans for a statue of Stalin, he pointed to Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the Parliamentarian side in the 17th-century English Civil War, and asked: "What's the real difference between Cromwell and Stalin?"

He then answered his own question: "None whatsoever," and went on to describe Cromwell as a "cunning fellow" who "played a very ambiguous role in Britain's history". (A statue of Cromwell stands outside the House of Commons in London.)

"Ambiguous" is a reasonable description of the morality of Cromwell's actions.

While he promoted parliamentary rule in England, ended the civil war, and allowed a degree of religious toleration, he also supported the trial and execution of Charles I and brutally conquered Ireland in response to a perceived threat from an alliance of Irish Catholics and English Royalists.

But, unlike Cromwell, Stalin was responsible for the deaths of very large numbers of civilians, outside any war or military campaign.

According to Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands, two to three million people died in the forced labour camps of the Gulag and perhaps a million were shot during the Great Terror of the late 1930s.

Another five million starved in the famine of 1930-1933, of whom 3.3 million were Ukrainians who died as a result of a deliberate policy related to their nationality or status as relatively prosperous peasants known as kulaks.

Snyder's estimate of the total number of Stalin's victims does not take into account those who managed to survive forced labour or internal exile in harsh conditions.

Including them might add as many as 25 million to the number of those who suffered terribly as a result of Stalin's tyranny.

The total number of deaths that Snyder attributes to Stalin is lower than the commonly cited figure of 20 million, which was estimated before historians had access to the Soviet archives.

It is nonetheless a horrendous total, similar in magnitude to the Nazis' killings (which took place during a shorter period).

Moreover, the Soviet archives show that one cannot say that the Nazi's killings were worse because victims were targeted on the basis of their race or ethnicity.

Stalin, too, selected some of his victims on this basis, not only Ukrainians, but also people belonging to ethnic minorities associated with countries bordering the Soviet Union.

Stalin's persecutions also targeted a disproportionately large number of Jews.

There were no gas chambers, and arguably the motivation for Stalin's killings was not genocide, but rather the intimidation and suppression of real or imaginary opposition to his rule.

That in no way excuses the extent of the killing and imprisonment that occurred.

If there is any "ambiguity" about Stalin's moral record, it may be because communism strikes a chord with some of our nobler impulses, seeking equality for all and an end to poverty.

No such universal aspiration can be found in Nazism, which, even on its face, was not concerned about what was good for all, but about what was good for one supposed racial group, and which was clearly motivated by hatred and contempt for other ethnic groups.

But communism under Stalin was the opposite of egalitarian, for it gave absolute power to a few, and denied all rights to the many.

Those who defend Stalin's reputation credit him with lifting millions out of poverty; but millions could have been lifted out of poverty without murdering and incarcerating millions more. Others defend Stalin's greatness on the basis of his role in repelling the Nazi invasion and ultimately defeating Hitler.

Yet Stalin's purge of military leaders during the Great Terror critically weakened the Red Army, his signing of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact in 1939 paved the way for the start of World War II, and his blindness to the Nazi threat in 1941 left the Soviet Union unprepared to resist Hitler's attack.

It remains true that Stalin led his country to victory in war, and to a position of global power that it had not held before and from which it has since fallen. Hitler, by contrast, left his country shattered, occupied, and divided. People identify with their country and look up to those who led it when it was at its most powerful. That may explain why Muscovites are more willing to accept a statue of Stalin than Berliners would be to have one of Hitler.

But that can be only part of the reason for the different treatment given to these mass murderers. It still leaves me puzzled about New York's Soviet-themed restaurant and KGB Bar. Project Syndicate



Peter Singer NST Opinion Columnist 13/01/2014

Punishment: Caning has virtues, too

STUDENTS are getting more unruly and resorting to criminal activities now. It is time we put a stop to this.

Teachers should be reminded to put into practice child psychology when handling disciplinary problems among schoolchildren.

Although the punishment should befit the offence, teachers and principals should study the students' background and find out the root cause of their misbehaviour before deciding on the method of punishment to be meted out.

Caning a child for committing an offence will not help and neither will it help to completely do away with the cane.

In child psychology, we learn that children should be treated as individuals. Children respond to punishment in their own way. Some students respond to persuasion while others respond to harsher methods.

I would like to cite two methods that worked with my pupils.

One year, I had a boy who used to kick the girls. I received many complaints about his behaviour. I lectured him, but to no avail.

One day, I called him to the front of the class and asked him to point to the "naughty leg" that kicked the girls.

At the same time, I held a ruler in my hand. I then asked the class if I should cane the "naughty" leg and remind it not to hurt the girls. "Yes" came the resounding answer. So, I caned the pupil's leg a few times and he stopped kicking.

In another case, I had a naughty but intelligent pupil, who was inattentive in class. He would spend his time walking around the class and disturbing other pupils.

I called his father, who begged me to cane his son.

Knowing the boy's home environment, I told the father it wasn't right as I had heard of the harsh treatment the boy received from his mother. She often beat him and sometimes drive him out of the house, even in the rain.

I felt what he needed was love and attention, and I promised the father I would solve the problem my way.

The following day, I called up the boy and asked him if he would like to go to another class, to which he protested.

I said if he wanted to stay in my class, he would have to work harder as I would not tolerate shirkers. I threatened to send him to another class if he continued to be indifferent to his studies.

He pleaded not to be sent away and promised to work hard. He kept his promise and would finish his work before others.

Moreover, he delighted me by bringing his work to me to be marked immediately. I paid special attention to him and marked his work to show him how much I appreciated his change in attitude.

After three months of hard work, he began to bribe me with little gifts. I also noticed that he had started slacking again in his work. I warned him that bribery would not work and reminded him of the consequences. He tested my patience and amidst his protests, I told him to pack his bag and send him off to the next class.

A few days later, I asked him if he would like to return to my class. He jumped for joy and promised he would behave. I took him back and he kept his promise, and did regular work till the end of the year.

He was quite attached to me and after school was dismissed, he would accompany me to the staff room.

Teachers must be reminded to make good use of psychology when dealing with their students. Children today would rather yield to psychological persuasion than autocratic demand. However, doing away with the cane would only encourage some students to be defiant and continue with their mischievous conduct.

Let not the ambivalent views of the public hold back the Education Ministry's decision to bring back the cane. Discretionary use of the cane can prove worthwhile in the long run.

Loh Siew Eem, Petaling Jaya, Selangor NST Opinion 13/01/2014