Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Love, Servanthood and the Science of Knowing Thyself - My School Daze Part 1

149. School Daze
O’ Ministry of Divine Snubs,
How have you compiled the syllabus
Without touching upon the need
To recognize and control the human ego?

On the basis of which touchstone
Have you given the children garden implements
But no lessons in how to use their hands?
No lessons as to why they need to tend the garden?

You think a spade is good in itself.
But I say, Nay!
For even a spade can be put to murderous use.

TASAWWUF is often referred to in Malay as ‘ilmu mengenali diri’, which translates to the Science of Knowing Thyself. It is too bad however that nowadays not many Muslims here even use that word regularly.

POEM NO. 149 was written depicting the absence of Tasawwuf in the medium of Islamic knowledge teaching during my time. And the conclusion – that sometimes, religious education can lead to crime and mindless zealotry is sadly true today as it was 7 years ago when I recorded the prose. I am a sinner, but even I can comprehend that the teaching of the Science of Knowing Thyself must be an essential part of religious education. And in the context of our ego, which often corrupts our humble faith into hubris, I didn’t even acknowledge the concept of ego, until I was in my late 20s. And in a country where almost half of the population are non Muslims, I do believe that religious hubris and arrogance must be addressed at a young age (high school at least). Not only because it is will help ensure harmony amongst the multi-faith Malaysians - but because it is the Essence of what Muhammad Habibullah is teaching us. Otherwise religious intolerance will grow into a malignant tumour and will eat into the beautiful inheritance of my brethren - it has already for some of my co-religionists… much to my sadness.

LOVE & SERVANTHOOD. Islamic Knowledge education has been in the national syllabus for Muslim students long before the day I first stepped into primary school, some 34 years ago. In my time the ustaz or ustazah (female religious teacher) were, as far as I can recall, kindly and patient dearies. But even up to college level, I do not remember any specific focus on Tasawwuf. It was only much, much later, after I started work that I bumped into a couple of gentlemen attached to a local branch of a Sufi Order. It so happened that they were my close friends. When they spoke, I listened. And I thought that they made a lot of sense. They lent me books about Shaykh Abdul Qader Geylani, Jelaluddin Rumi and a few other old-time favourites of the Sufi library. Hmm, I thought. Very interesting, and it was all about Love and Servanthood…

May God bless all Saints and saintly teachers who acquaint us as to the nature of true Love and true Servanthood. The brighter their light shines, the better for us to expose the deception and ugliness of terror which is disguising itself under the cloak of 'jihad' and 'jihadis' - such bandits are our everlasting enemy.

Pax Taufiqa.

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