Sunday, February 26, 2006

Gradualism in Applying the Shari`ah
By Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
April 26, 2005
(extracted as it is presented in 2006)

Gradualism in applying the Shari`ah is a wise requirement to follow. In doing so, we will be following Allah’s laws with regard to physical nature and teachings of Islam. Gradualism was observed in enjoining the obligations of Islam such as Prayer, fasting, etc., and in forbidding the prohibited as well.

The most telling example in that regard is prohibiting alcohol; the stages taken in that respect are well known by anyone studying the Shari`ah. Islam also took into account the effectiveness of gradualism when it did not suddenly abolish slavery, which was prevalent in the whole world on the advent of Islam.

Abolishing slavery then would have led to economic and social uprising, so it was wise then to deal with such a problem in an indirect way (by, for instance, regarding setting a slave free as a good deed and making it an expiation for some sins). This implied a gradual abolishing of slavery.

Being a divine law, gradualism is to be followed on the political level nowadays. That is to say, gradualism is to be observed when it comes to applying the rulings of the Shari`ah in today’s life when Muslims have been socially, legislatively, and culturally invaded.
If we want to establish a real Muslim society, we should not imagine that such an end can be achieved by a mere decision issued to that effect by a king or a president or a council of leaders or a parliament.

Gradualism is the means through which such an end can be fulfilled. Gradualism here refers to preparing people ideologically, psychologically, morally, and socially to accept and adopt the application of the Shari`ah in all aspects of life, and to finding lawful alternatives for the forbidden principles upon which many associations have been founded for so long.

Gradualism in that sense does not mean we are to procrastinate and put off applying the Shari`ah. Gradualism is not to be taken as a pretext for discouraging people and foiling their pressing demands to establish Allah’s laws.

It, rather, should spur us to spotlight our aims, set our plans, and decide, sincerely and wisely, on the gradual stages to be taken in that respect. In that way, step by step, and through wise planning, organizing, and determination, we can reach the last and long-awaited stage of applying all the teachings of Islam heart and soul.

This was the same approach that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) adopted so that he (peace and blessings be upon him) could change the pre-Islamic life of degeneration and ignorance into the enlightened life of Islam.

There is an example of this approach that is related concerning `Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz, whom the Muslim scholars regard as the fifth rightly-guided caliph and a true follower of his great-grandfather, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab.

`Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz’s son, `Abdul-Malik, who was a firm, pious young man, said to his father one day, “O father! Why you do not implement the rulings firmly and immediately? By Allah, I would not care if all the world would furiously oppose us so long as we seek to establish the right [that Allah Almighty has enjoined].” These words show how zealous that young man was to destroy all signs of corruption and deterioration immediately and without delay, whatever the consequences.

But the wise father said to his son, “Do not deal with matters hastily, son. Allah Almighty [Himself] despised drinking alcohol twice in the Qur’an and did not declare it forbidden but in the third time. I am afraid that if I enjoined the right on people at one stroke, they would give it up all at once, which might lead to sedition.”

That attitude of `Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz shows that he saw it wise to tackle matters gradually. He was guided in that respect by Allah’s dealing with prohibiting alcohol. `Umar wanted to lead people step by step towards establishing the right and this, in fact, is the wise juristic approach to handle matters.

Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is the head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), and the president of The International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS). He has been active in the field of da`wah and the Islamic Movement for more than half a century.

this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 11:57 pm


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
And salam sejahtera. Although it means the same thing anyway.

I hereby declare that this here blog shall truly be made public aka viewable by Family and Friends, to save on communication costs.

I need a digital camera. MARA, for some reason, is not really keen on giving us money for one each.

Heheh. Lawak lame.

Pictures shall be updated often, and again, when I can afford it. The language used may be an issue, but hey, sendiri paham lah.

I miss everyone I left back home. SMS does not do you justice.


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 11:41 pm


Friday, February 24, 2006

So. This is Melbourne.

The first thought that struck me was that we had landed in some barren land in another dimension. In any other situation, the thought would’ve scared me senseless. I am, after all, a prone neurotic. This time, however, I had some 70 plus Malaysian students in the same boat, most of which I had known and lived with for nearly 2 years. So I felt that I was in good company, if nothing else.

The ride over to Carlton from the airport, in the bus, was memorable. We saw ranch houses everywhere. There was no specific house plan. There were only brick houses, square and dotted in messy neighbourhoods, and while they seemed ideally quaint at the moment to Sarah and I, I knew then and there that I would get bored sick of them, eventually. They were no marvels of architecture. And that first impression I got from the 20-minute trip over has somehow become metaphorical to my point of view of Australia, or rather, Melbourne, as a whole – interesting, but loses its novelty fast.

Our current abode is now YMCA’s College Square, situated on Lygon Street, and it seems that it shall be our living place for the next few years. The accommodation itself is nice, with a plain, functionalist décor that reminds you of a 2-storey hotel room, where you cook and lounge downstairs and live upstairs. It has become home, and in less than a week, we have fallen into routine. Homesickness is prone amongst us living in unit 5809, especially during quiet, late afternoons. Compared to Malaysia, the Australian TV Network is wicked boring. Their soap dramas are illogical, and too much like their American counterparts, to the extent that as one watches one particularly annoying character on channel Ten’s infamous Neighbours, one is reminded of The Bold and the Beautiful, which they also have on the very same channel. Of course, Neighbours is much tamer. It has a lousy theme song. It features plastic, self-obsessed caricatures of everyday humans. I must say, I smell plagiarism.

If I digress even further, my parents will think that I’ve been doing nothing but watch TV. But no. only one episode of Neighbours was enough for me to make the assumption. Any other repeats would have to be merely coincidental.

Lygon Street is wonderful to observe. Subang Jaya would be ideal, if it were to adopt the wonderful traffic management and town engineering that Carlton, Melbourne has. There are huge walkways for pedestrians; wide enough for the countless restaurants to open up proper tables along the sides, and still have enough space for 3 rows of people to stride down the path side by side. There is sufficient parking by the roads, and yet every road is still made up of 4 lanes, for both trams and cars. The trams are like really fast KTM Komuters, and is how we mostly journey to Brunswick, north of Carlton, for our supply of halal meat and pizzas.

The café scene is very tempting along Lygon Street. Granted, we can’t eat most of the things here, because they don't contain emulsifiers of plant origin, and as Muslims we can’t consume by-products of pigs or animals that have not been slaughtered in the Islamic way. It’s mainly for hygienic reasons. However, there is no shortage in halal food here, although it’s a farther distance from where we live. This is thanks to the amount of immigrants of Sudanese, Pakistani, Indonesian, Arabic and Lebanese origin, which I will some to later.

The most convenient place for Muslims is Sydney Road, in the Brunswick district, some 30 minutes north of Lygon by tram. It’s filled with halal restaurants, bakeries and pizzerias, as well as other miscellaneous things, such as Arabic jewellers, Islamic garment stores for women, and even Arab Bank. The prices are reasonable. The trick I have discovered to maintaining my sanity here is to prevent myself from converting everything to Malaysian ringgit. The prices here are just the same as back at home, as a quick walk around K-Mart or Big W (the local equivalents of Carrefour and Giant) will tell you. Only everything is worth 2.82 times more. Heh.

The district we live in centres around the University of Melbourne. It’s located in Parkville, in the heart of Carlton itself, and only a 7 minutes walk away from the Central Business District, which can be called the ibu negara of Melbourne city. The uni is rather like a tourist attraction; like a small town, only more eclectic and diverse than the actual town itself. Like Kangaroo Kelly, our host for the Science Faculty tour around campus grounds, said, “We are young, and we are angry, and you will see a lot of that around here.” And we do.

Australian university students are very active in extra-curricular activities. In fact, it is what defines them as people. You can see many disinterested people lounging around, wanting to have a good time, and on the other end of the spectra that is UniMelb’s students, you find politically-active students who are aware, knowledgeable, passionate, and yes, angry. The Socialist Alternative Society’s booths have been everywhere throughout orientation, handing us pamphlets inviting us to brainstorm for the Troops Out of Iraq rally on March 17th. Hooked, the union of students actively campaigning for fair trade, sell lots of cheap alternatives to products of cheap Third-World labour. I got ‘Free Palestine” and ‘Make Poverty History’ badges from the respective booths. The Melbourne University’s Islamic Society (MUIS) has been handing out free DVDs and books, with the aim to further educate non-Muslims about Islam. Their slogan is simple: the translation to the shahaadah, which is “There is no God deserving of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

All this activism is very inspiring. It shows how, if we really want to fight for it, we can make a change in the world. If socialists and environmentalists attempt to make a difference, then why can’t we, as Muslims, try to do the same? MUIS has played a key role in UniMelb’s student union, in keeping the interests of the Muslim society a key priority in the university. It is its own support system. The people there aren’t judgemental. They do not force you into anything you are not ready for. But their dedication and faith towards Islam is brilliant. They are proud to be Muslims. That is how they define themselves.

They do not need to stop shaving their underarms (trust me, amongst unionists, this seems to be the common practise) or lose faith in democracy altogether. They merely fight for what they believe in.

So despite the bad press of the Westerners in general, there are many things we can learn from them, such as common courtesy. People say ‘sorry, my fault’ all the time, no matter if you’re the one who bumped into them and stepped on their foot. Everyone asks and is expected to lend a helping hand to complete strangers shamelessly. Muslims utter the salaam, “Assalamu’alaikum” at first glance. People here fight for their principles and their beliefs. They fight to defend justice, and while they may not be a pragmatic lot, they’ve got a whole lot of heart.

So. This is Melbourne.

this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 4:51 pm


Friday, February 17, 2006

Assalamualaikum, family and friends.

Finally, internet access after DAYS!

I am currently living on 5809/570 College Square Lygon, Lygon Street, Carlton 5035 Victoria, Australia.

It's all good. Food, friends, company, weather. A bit rough on the skin, and I miss familiar sights and faces, but the love is still surrounding me, so that makes it all the better.

We're having a cold summer as it moves into autumn. The flight was memorable. Aizat and Adeq were wonderful company. The Aussies hooting in the back were also entertaining. Noisy and sarcastic and brash, but I've learnt to expect that.

Melbourne is filled with Asians. Many, many Malaysians. Many Chinese, Indians and Malays. A few scattered Caucasians.

It feels like walking along a very, very long Petaling Street. Only minus the traffic jams and the litter and the jaywalkers. The traffic is wonderful here. The television networks, not so. Well, less distractions that way.

Although I miss Astro a lot, a whole lot.

I was lost yesterday. Disoriented and sleepy. And food has been a problem, only because we don't have the ability to cook right now, due to the lack of pans. Thank Allah for the seniors who have been cooking endlessly for us, day and night. Once we go to market, it'll all be fine, I reckon.

The Australian accent is catchy. The Australian timzone (+11.00 GMT) is not.

Ah. Banyakkan bersyukur dan beristighfar, a good friend told me.

I do that everyday.

The weather is killing. My lips are cracking. Alhamdulillah for lip balm.

Will manage more words and a better vocabulary when I'm not as sleepy or tired. I can't wait to test the new pillows. After I finish packing and calculating the receipts.

Wouldn't you believe it of Syazwina Saw? Heheh.


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 1:32 am