Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Celebrations including Christmas heavily commercialized

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

"Do not spy one another,
nor let any of you backbite others..." (Hujurat 49: 12)

ONE Dr Ahmad Azman Mohd Anuar who was residing in The Hague, Netherlands sent me this note: “History is his story, when can we tell our story? How sure are we that his story is true? So don't only read his story, but read her story, their story, our story...”

He also quoted an African proverb that reads: “Until lions have historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.” Dr Azman noted: “That is why we need to read history with an open mind, and read from those who differ too...a coin has two faces...”

And he added another quotation from an unknown author: “No one is perfect…that’s why pencils have erasers.”

A reader, MS wrote: Dear Lanh, You have edited various articles on Islamic topics of interest which is a profound interest to me. I would be pleased if you could share your articles and views.to my email.

I replied his message, and he wrote back: As-salamaalaikum saudara Lanh yang dihormati (Greetings to brother Lanh). Truly enjoyed to receive your brief words of your e-mail even though I have recently devote reading your articles deeply and trying to recollect the wisdom of your writing in matter of Islamic prospective in in our daily. I would then be pleased to keep your recently articles published in your books for my reference purpose. It would be better if could link your articles to Mas.Kelana @ gmail com. I am learning to write in English version and would gladly seek your value comments in due course! Thank you for your keen attention!

To readers especially MS; thanks for e-mailing me but once again I would like to clarify that I am not an ‘ustaz’ (religious teacher); my profesion is a journalist, graduating from the School of Mass Communation UiTM some 25 years ago. Only about 10 years ago, I started going to masjids frequently, including attending the almost daily ‘tazkirah’ (religious classes) between ‘maghrib’ (dusk) and ‘isyak’ (night) prayers. Some of the points raised in my articles derived from those classes and at other times I quoted from reliable and respected sources such as magazines, books and online news and portals. So to MS and other readers, please double check my points of view, perhaps they were wrong; to Allah SWT I beg His forgiveness and mercy.

In this article I would like to write my points of view (my story) regarding celebrations such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid Mubarak) and the coming Christmas. My points might be wrong, but as the saying goes; “no one is perfect… that’s why pencils have erasers. So you just delete the ones that do not suit you!

First, let me pen my critics about Eid Mubarak celebration in our country. Before the big day, Muslims have to observe fasting for the whole month of Ramadhan. By fasting, Muslims were taught to be trift and wise in their spending but allocate more money and time providing for the poor and needy. They too were taught to spend more time improving their inner being, seeking the pleasures of Allah the Almighty by doing good deeds such as doing ‘sunat’ (recommended) prayers such as ‘tarawih and witir’ (night prayers usually held in masjids).

But Muslims spend as though there is no tomorrow not only during the holy month but during the so-called festive month of Syawal. Imagine, they celebrate ‘Hari Raya’ (Eid) for 30 days; they have ‘Hari Raya Pertama’ (first day of Eid), ‘Hari Raya Kedua’ to ‘Hari Raya ke-30’ (the 30th day of Eid). TV stations were fond of advertising and popularing this so-called ‘Hari Raya Pertama, Kedua’ and so on with trays of entertaining programmes that might include ‘joget’ (dance) show! Commercial stores too had their fair share during this period of festive.

In my opinion Hari Raya celebration in our country had been heavily commercialized; the religious aspects of it were over shadowed. It is obvious if we were to look and study the pattern of attendees at masjids beginning from early Ramadhan to the days of Syawal. During the few days of the holy month, masjids were full of congregators but decline as the days past by and the attendees at masjids were back to square one after ‘Raya’.

Ramadhan is ‘a university’ to cleanse one inner soul but sadly we do not ‘hijrah’ (change or transform) to be in line with the Islamic teaching but back to our old ways including satisfying our old enemies – ‘syaitan’ (devils) and their gangs and of course ‘our’ capitalist masters. Did we not realize that the capitalists and oppourtunits were the ones who benefited the most during festive seasons in our beloved country?

Eid or ‘Aidilfitri’ is a religious celebration, but the capitalists and oppourtunists turned it into one that provided them worldly pleasures. The capitalists were heaped with money and power at their feet after their sucesss in ‘distorting’ ‘Hari Raya’ while the oppourtunists such as politicians ‘misuse’ ‘Hari Raya’ to fish for support and gaining popularity. Someone told me it is easy to gain support or vote from an ordinary folk; you give him/her ‘makan’ (invite him/her to lunch or dinner) and pat his/her back and say good words; he/she would remember you and your goodwill fo the rest of his/her life!

Now that Christmas is around the corner; the capitalist masters and politicians once again had their hands full to pounce on oppourtunities derived from that celebration. Hotels, shopping complexes, restaurants and even TV commercials had ‘their shows’ moving; all in the name of Christmas celebration. A quick look at those landmarks in cities and big towns showed their premises and personnels were put at their best to attract attention. Lively Christmas trees, Santa Claus and Santarina were main features that could not be missed. And politicians had already ‘Hari Krismas 1-Malaysia’ on their minds!

I remember reading somewhere that icons related to Christmas were new inventions; they had no connection what so ever with the early Christians. For example Santa Claus; what has this ‘old man’ to do with Jesus Christ or his followers? Of course Santarina was a much newer inclusion. I also had read somewhere that the date chosen to be Christmas Day (25th December) had no significant relating to Jesus Christ who in Islam was refereed as Prophet Isa (peace be upon him).

But I must admit that during my primary school years, I was fascinated by icons such as Santa Claus and the Christmas tree. It was nice to look at pictures of the Christmas tree with its decorated lights and presents including those in stockings hanging on it in school textbooks such as ‘Sivik Darjah Empat’ (Civics Year Four). I too was touched by Santa Claus goodness, bringing goodies to children. Gladly, now I realized that all these icons were new inventions, perhaps in one aspect they were created by the capitalist masters to market their products.

As mentioned before, this is MY story, my opinion and understanding on this topic derived from my readings, so if I had been wrong and offended certain readers, I am open to criticism and seek forgiveness. To Allah SWT I submit everything including my weakness. Amin.

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