Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What time is it?

In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessing and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

"...whosoever killeth a human being
for other than man slaughter or corruption in the earth.
it shall be as if he had killed all mankind.
and whosoever saveth the life of one,
it shall be as he had saved
the life of all mankind. (Maidah 5:32)

My article entitled ‘The miracle medicine’ (Harakah 25-28 January) received much feedbacks from readers. Some asked about bookstores that sell the books mentioned in the article – ‘Hikmah Terapi Sedekah’ (The Therapy in Charity), ‘Hikmah Terapi al-Quran’ (The Therapy in the al-Quran), ‘Hikmah Terapi Solat’ (The Therapy in Prayer) and ‘Hikmah Terapi Air Mata’ (The Therapy in Shedding Tears).

I bought the books at Nufair Street Sdn Bhd (a centre of alternative sources) at 22, Jalan Pahang Barat, 53000 Kuala Lumpur (www.nufairshop.com) but the publisher is Al-Hidayah Publication at 27 Jalan Ipoh Kecil, 50350 Kuala Lumpur (www.hidayahcom.my).

I also received this e-mail, asking me to highlight problems regarding the ‘one Malaysian time’ introduced by the then Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1982.

Dear LANH,

I refer to your article entitled ‘The miracle medicine’ where you gave much space to one reader, Fadzilah Mohammad, who noted various websites on ‘alternative medicine’.

Here, I write as I would like to, if you would allow me on this platform, raise my concern on the current state of the Muslim obligatory prayer times in Malaysia. A majority of us perhaps would probably have not noticed it given that it has been something taken for granted and therefore may not mean much to them.

A little over under 30 years ago, a national leader who had just ascended onto power and in the name of national unity, declared that on New Year's Day of 1982 the hour hand of clocks in Peninsula Malaysia would be pushed ahead by 30 minutes so as to be synchronized with clocks in Sabah and Sarawak.

The effect was such that although Kuala Lumpur (101) lies within a similar longitude as that of Bangkok (100) and Jakarta (106), it now has a time difference of one-hour ahead of the latter two cities when up till then all three shared the same time zone.

By pushing the hour clock ahead, both dawn and dusk in Kuala Lumpur has been effectively 'deferred'. Where previously KL celebrated say, New Year's Day at precisely the same time as Bangkok and Jakarta; KL now celebrates an hour earlier.

The effect for such a move was such that, Muslims now have to wait 'longer' before they could perform their prayers. For example, Fajr (dawn) prayers which would have come into effect at 5.40 am, are now only effective at 6.10 am.

Similarly, Maghreb (dusk) prayers are now performed at 7.25 pm instead of 6.55 pm. Such timings have arguably caused our local Muslim society to develop relatively bad habits and lifestyles.

Not only are the timings of the two aforementioned prayers affected, as obviously all the remaining timings of the zuhr, asr as well as that of isha' are similarly affected as a result of the decision to 'unite the country'.

If unity was the primary factor, perhaps President Barack Obama too would have wanted Los Angeles, Chicago and New York – cities in different longitudes – to share a single pan American time in unison. Geography dictates otherwise though and to this very day, New Yorkers continue to live within the Eastern Standard Time, and by virtue of getting sunrise earlier, are 2 hours ahead of Californians.

One can only look at the horrendous consequence of having such a decision implemented – albeit even after almost 30 years in place – where school children actually arrive in school when the sun has not actually risen. Granted that the time actually fluctuates within a variance of 30 minutes between one extreme to another during the year but still, it does look odd for Muslims in Peninsula Malaysia to only start performing the Fajr prayers at 6.10 am when people in Jakarta, for example have already made their way to work.

I dread to think the number of Muslim school children and workers not actually performing the fajr prayers lest they miss the bus to school or work – which in all likelihood is a high possibility. Imagine a Muslim school bus driver who has to pick up at least 30 children in his school bus going to at least 2 schools in say Petaling Jaya, which commence classes at 7.30 am. There would be no shortage of true tales and living proof of how this bizarre timing has had a profound effect on our lives, especially on us Muslims who have had to grapple with life's daily struggles vis-à-vis our faith and our prayers' obligation.

Personally, I have experienced schooling in the days before the dreadful decision to push the clock ahead and I must say that it was a much better environment then. I can still remember very clearly, literally, how I would be picked up by my school bus at 6.30 in the mornings when it would be just about bright and by the time I arrived in school at 7.00 am, the sun was already up.

Today, I would be sending my children to school at 7.00 am with my car's headlights still on. Just last week, I was on the Federal Highway at 7.00 am and the street lights of what is widely known as one of the earliest federal main thoroughfare were switched off precisely at that time, when you could not really figure out if there are potholes ahead of you in the dark.

I am sure there are many readers out there who share my displeasure on the issue of the Malaysian time zone and have their own experience to tell insofar as the incongruity of the timing is concerned.

I can only hope that when Pakatan Rakyat takes over the reign of the government of this country, the issue of the current timing system would be reviewed. I seriously do not think that the present Najib Razak-led administration would even contemplate reviewing it as it would go against the grain of its much hyped 1Malaysia chants.

I shall leave the Muslim readers with some imagination on how this absurd timing has had a profound effect on, amongst many other examples, the performance of the weekly obligatory Friday solat.

With zuhr prayers now at its 'peak', reaching almost 1.30 pm in Kuala Lumpur, an average Muslim Malaysian would invariably have his lunch before coming to the masjid for his prayers. By the time the Muezzin completes his call for prayers, it would be at least 1.50 pm before the Khateb begins his sermon.

On a 'bad' day, the khateb takes at least 20 minutes to deliver his sermon. On a 'good' day, he could drag it further to last 30 minutes. You do not have to tell me what a male with his belly full with lunch just devoured would do, sitting cross legged in the masjid, seemingly intent on 'listening' to the khateb, whether it is within the comforts of the cooling air-conditioner or as indeed, under the drones of the electric fans trying to wage a war against the sweltering humid heat.

I will try my very best to have good expectations on my fellow Muslim brothers where their responsibilities of performing the solat is concerned against the backdrop of an incongruous prayer timings brought about by an imprudent decision of some 30 years ago but it is difficult not to pass judgments based on the various complaints, observations and experiences I have come across throughout the past 28 eventful years. Wallahu a'lam. - ABU FARIS, Petaling Jaya

1 comment:

Naim said...

Sometimes it gone (freely) although we noticed it. And we do nothing good to ourselves.