My blog is virtually building cobwebs now. Haha! Not much is happening except that I’ve been elected as the PIBG (Parents-Teacher Association) Treasurer by the school (involuntarily!) and I was no way in position to reject it although I am NOW in my 2nd semester of my Ph.D (which somehow is experiencing a writer’s / researcher’s block phase!). I am a grown up now and I try to take this as new experience in enriching my professional repertoire.
Anyway, I had the opportunity to listen to a few globally-renowned Islamic scholars at “Reviving Islamic Spirit” Convention in Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC). The event assembled more than 10 Islamic scholars all over the world, coming together to share their humble opinions on several issues that are relevant with our Moslem diaspora these days. I first heard the convention via IKIM.fm and then I browsed the net. Apparently, the mode of payment for the event was through PayPal and I ain’t got one. So, I asked Kakak to pay for me and of course later I paid her back. Initially, the ticket cost around RM260++ but I got discount of RM50 via promo code by IKIM.fm.
The event started at 10.00 a.m. on Saturday – but since I had Latihan Dalam Perkhidamatan (LADAP) which was made compulsory by my Headmaster on eleventh-hour notice, I had to join later. Besides, there were only two speakers I have been looking forward to hear and they were Ustaz Nouman Ali Khan and Dr. Afifi al-Akiti. So, I didn’t really feel THAT disappointed. Haha!
My program book and the wristband. Apparently, the wrist band is non-refundable IF it were to be lost.
I arrived at the beautiful ethereal-looking auditorium (with the help of the kaleidoscopic lighting, of course!) circa 3.30 p.m. and I had the chance to listen to Imam Khalid Latif’s thought on “Who Am I? : Faith, Culture and the Muslim Identity”. I enjoyed his ideas on how we, Moslems should embrace our own ethnicity uniqueness and traditions as opposed to be too consumed with the ‘Arabization’ influences. I like what he said because that is what happening in Malaysia. And those who voice this rampant phenomenon will be dubbed as “undoubtedly heathen”. I have witnessed several conversations where conservative Malay Moslems labelled their opinionated counterparts as such because for them “the Arabians’ cultures are the identity of Moslems’ cultures”. Some even severed friendships because of these polarized stances, under the token of that “I rather severe friendships than to withstand blasphemous accusations against Islam”!! Hence it is very refreshing to hear a contradictory “sounded” riposte from a legit New Yorker Islamic scholar.
Imam Khalid Latiff is the Executive Director for Islamic Center of New York University! Hey, it is New York! I wish to go there one day and sing “Welcome to New York” in my mind. LMAO!
Beautiful auditorium, no?
Honestly, I thought Ustaz Nouman Ali Khan would be at the convention but later I found that he was merely giving his ideas via video conferencing. Nevertheless, his topic was interesting. After Imam Khalid Latif, Ustaz Nouman Ali Khan “took over the session”, talking about “A Shining on a Hill” – on how society aspires to be a Utopia and whether the realistic of that aspiration is to transpire; or expire? He glossed one statement which I felt hit right to the faces :-
“If you work in the Government, clearly you are working for the public interest. Hence, you cannot have the dream of to accumulate wealth. Unlike in private sector where you are working for the sake of your career advancement.”
I wish to join any next event with him giving his thoughts; – live – in case if he were to ever come back to Malaysia (he is quite a frequent visitor here!).
Nouman Ali Khan is the CEO for Bayyinah Institute in USA. Mizz Nina once did her TV programme “Walk His Way” at New York and collaborated with Bayyinah.
I didn’t stay long. After Khan’s session, I went to Kakak’s place at Precint 14 for a nap and a bath. So happened, Mak also is there to take care of Raess. I later joined the 8.00-9.00 p.m. session with Rasheda Ali & Imam Zaid Shakir. Rasheda Ali is one of Muhammad Ali’s daughters. Their session was entitled as “Still The People’s Champ : Relevance of Ali Today”. The very mentioning of the name “Ali” is always more than enough. The black man born as Cassius Clay emerged as one of the greatest athletes in the world with persona of “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Irregardless whether Ali was a member of Nation of Islam, a Sunni or later quoted as to adopt Sufism, he was undeniably a zealous Moslem! He refused to have his “Walk of Fame” Hollywood star to be immortalized unless it was to be put at a higher place and not to be cemented on the pavement. The reason? The name “Muhammad” is the name of our prophet and he did not want to smear the sanctity of that name by having strangers walk upon it, literally!
Rasheda Ali, one of Muhammad Ali’s 9 children. She is an eloquent speaker. I enjoyed her session.
I have to say, I really enjoyed Rasheda Ali’s session. She was an eloquent speaker and she exuded enigma effortlessly. Apparently, she majored in Mass Communication (I did some background checking! Haha!); no wonder she conquered the stage like a maestro. She was full of energy; she laughed and jested with the audiences throughout her nostalgic reminiscence of her father. She couldn’t confine the melancholy as she unexpectedly burst into tears when she reminisced about Ali and how that every time she visited the cemetery, she would play his favourite Surah. From Rhetorical Communication point of view, she embroidered Ethos and Pathos quite well. I also concurred with what Imam Zaid Shakir (who embraced Islam in 1970s and the first American to obtain a degree in Islamic Science) said about Ali (more or less; I paraphrase according to my limited remembrance) :-
“Ali is not free from being a sinner but does that exclude him from being a saint?
Reminiscing her father, Muhammad Ali.
Imam Zaid Shakir is the co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California.
The last session that I joined was today at 11.15 a.m-12.15 p.m. It was the session with Dr. Afifi Al-Akiti, the first Malay Moslem who becomes a fellow at University of Oxford. I have to say that he was the reason WHY I bought the ticket to this “Reviving The Islamic Spirit” convention! When I first learned about him via Internet and then to see him featured in TV programme with Mizz Nina, I became both fixated and awed with his achievement. Well, he is actually not that old – he was born in 1976; only 8 years older than I am but he has accomplish so many things. Amazing!
I wanna meet him. And talk to him. For like real. One of my holy fantasies. Haha. Unabashedly stated.
He gave a brief introduction on “Where the Answers Are : The Lost Legacy of Islamic Scholarship”. He stressed on the importance of ‘Uruf which is culture. He said that although there are disputes among scholars that ‘Uruf is the fifth Islamic source of rulings after Quran, Sunnah, Ijma’ Ulama and Qiyas (correct me if I am wrong; I recollected this from my vague memory taking Islamic Studies as my minor back in USM), it is nonetheless an important aspect to be respected and adhered. To ignore the ‘Uruf of a society will create an unbalanced nature. He also voiced out :-
- The importance to integrate the Western knowledge from Aristotle (yeay!) and Ptolemy with the Islamic philosophies because this is, an epoch-making era (whether we like it or not);
- The trend of to neglect the Nusantara identities in order to opt for the Middle East’s (the influence of Arabization). He even pointed out this poignant rhetorical question in front of the VIP for the day, The Perak Menteri Besar, Dato Seri Diraja Dr. Zambry Abd Kadir :-
“One of my Middle East friends came to see and asked me “What happens to Malaysian mosques?” He told me we are too consumed to model our mosques with the Arabian architecture – big dome but flat surface underneath it. Unlike the mosques at Indonesia and other Nusantara countries where the roof slides down like triangle and enables with the rain to cascade down freely, our mosques’ roofs are accumulating water with the surface and then we have to spend more money from our budget to fix that. If I may, our Perak Menteri Besar, offers some sense of humble”Nasihah”.”
Of course with that statement, the audience clapped their hands frantically! Haha! Great one from Dr. Afifi! Ahhh, honestly, I felt that his session was so short! I wished that his session was longer. I couldn’t get enough of him. I do wish one day to listen to him again, whenever there is an opportunity. In fact, I wish one day I could see him face-to-face or even talk with him. Ah, my holy fantasy. LOL!
Beautiful waterfall hologram as the background of the stage setting really added sense of tranquility for the session.
On whole, I am glad that I bought the ticket to this “Reviving The Islamic Spirit” convention. This is one of the attempts to equip myself for my upcoming spiritual journey to Jerusalem and Baitul Muqaddis, this March. I am quite intimidated because I feel like I am not spiritually prepared but I am excited and thrill to step my first footsteps on that Holy City. Amin, amin, amin.