by Azly Rahman
In cyberspace, I have been reading these kinds of statement these last few days.
Do some science, can we? Didn’t we send a space tourist, with the Russians, to the Space Station a while ago?
Waste not your time linking the flood to the “wrath of God”... primarily it is a Natural disaster coupled with Man’s destruction of the environment as well as the Butterfly Effect of things. Even in lands deemed very Islamic such as Kelantan and Trengganu and Pahang, Man hath shaved the hills bald even deforestating the ‘Serambi Mekah’ and although there is also a ‘Crystal Masjid’ to show piety in another state...
This is a testament, if we follow their religious explanation of events, of a defiance of the law governing the Natural State of the Universe - you shave hills for profit, you profit from logging, you become capitalists and petite bourgeoisie in religious garb, you steal from Nature to turn it into Technology and next, turn it in Capital. You do all these, you have become a religiously unethical person as well.
We saw this in Sarawak and now in Cameron Highlands. Not because there is no hudud in place. You are seeing this even in Mecca itself; with the Saudis who do not care about the environment, let alone history in the major reconstruction projects in the holy city.
There must be a joint interstate fatwa to make shaving hills in Kelantan haram to the max and also to make arguing about hudud at a time like this haram, too, I should say
But spend time not linking religion and science and making strange spurious correlations. We have to spend more time improving our disaster management plans, continuously advancing skills to the highest and more professional level, using the science of Advanced Computer Simulation to predict and control events, and to redesign habitats to ensure we do have extensive casualties and property damage when annual disaster like this strike...
“Pray to God, but tie your camel,” as they say... or rather, “Pray to God and design a 3-D camel that can help you in a major flood like this”... I’d say... "Think of new technologies for crisis management."
My prayers go to those affected by the flood... "I have been in one too many way up in the North back in the day..."
But here is the larger picture.
Are we environmentally doomed? Are we at the eleventh hour of total environmental destruction? How devastating has the impact of carbon dioxide emissions been? How serious is the depletion of the ozone layer? How much of the rainforests of the world have been destroyed? How fast are the polar ice caps melting, speeding up the looming disaster of Armageddon/ Qiamat of humankind? How many more frequent, major flash floods must we endure?
‘Man should not have carved the stone’
The Chinese philosopher and mystic Lao Tzu once said, “Man should not have carved the stone”, meaning man should not have invented things for, “... as Man began carving the stone, the process of destruction begins”.
Light bulbs, automobiles, powerplants, factories, telephone lines, bombs and computers are inventions that have historically transformed nature. Human beings ‘carve the stone’ and build structures of power and wealth which transform or even rape Nature in the process.
Ancient philosophies and the teachings of ‘revealed religion’ (of the Judeo-Christian tradition) warned against the exploitation of the physical environment so that humanity would continue to be close to Nature and closer to the realisation of the Natural Self. Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and probably the most extreme of all Hindu sects, Jainism, teaches human beings to respect living things as part of the great chain of beings.
But Western scientific ideology has taught Man to be free from not only thinking about spirits and spirituality, nature and the natural self, religion and deep reflection, but has also ‘enlightened’ human beings into mastering Nature and using its resources for the ‘progress’ of mankind. Progress, measured linearly and scientifically, is then equated with ‘civilisation’.
I hope in 2015 and beyond do not talk too much about hudud and forbidding Muslims from saying “Merry Christmas” but to focus on realism and constantly finding ways to solve social problems and how to manage natural disasters better. Or at least to start learning what pragmatism and liberalism means and how to apply these concepts to the practice of our national daily lives.
I end this essay with these two quotes:
“We did not ask you white men to come here. The Great Spirit gave us this country as a home. You had yours. We did not interfere with you. The Great Spirit gave us plenty of land to live on, and buffalo, deer, antelope and other game. But you have come here, you are taking my land from me, you are killing off our game, so it is hard for us to live.
“Now, you tell us to work for a living, but the Great Spirit did not make us to work, but to live by hunting. You white men can work if you want to. We do not interfere with you, and again you say why do you not become civilised? We do not want your civilisation! We would live as our fathers did, and their fathers before them.” - Crazy Horse of the Sioux tribe
“I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life there is one that matters most. It is the trail of a true human being.” - Kickin Bird, (quote from the movie Dances With Wolves)