Monday, September 22, 2008

If My Father were God

There is a very good reason why no mortal man is a God. You don’t have to see Bruce Almighty to understand it. I for one only need to interact with my father and profusely thanks God – on behalf of the mankind - for the fact that he is only my father.

I love the old man dearly, but loving someone doesn’t mean that you don’t see their mistakes and agreeing with them in everything. Loving someone means that you love that person just the way they are complete with all their imperfections. And love doesn’t make you blind or stupid unless you’re already blind and stupid in the first place.

Back to why the human kind should be grateful that the old darling is nothing more than just my father…

Muslims are ordered to pay annual Zakat (taking out 2.5% out of their wealth for the have not). I choose to pay mine during Ramadan. When my father learnt of one of the names of those who are on my list he protested: “Why are you giving it to him? He doesn’t even pray. By giving your Zakat to him he would think that not praying is a good thing for he still could get a livelihood doing what he does.”

I’d like to think that I’m a rather patient person but the old man could easily vex me by delivering unintentionally inflammatory statement like that. Come to think of it, most of our arguments are indeed related to either political issues or religious matters.

I knew that I should be patient but he had raised a red flag, and the temptation was too big for me to forfeit. I took a deep breath and raised my voice an octave ready to launch my sermon.

I started by stressing the merit of giving Zakat indiscriminately. And to drive my point home, I specifically mentioned the fact of how Muslims have a tendency to work themselves up whenever some Missionaries feed the poor and then converted them to Christianity.

I pushed my argument by pointing out that Qur’an never says to assist, help or feed only the pious e.g. Muslims orphans, Muslims poor, Muslims widows etc. On the contrary Qur’an is very specific in stressing the help is supposed to be given to the orphans, and the poor regardless of their religions, races, characters, and deeds.

The Prophet even reminded us to be ware of poverty as it brings us a step closer from turning away from God. If we are to do as my father wishes than probably no poor will get help from the Muslims. And as the Prophet had warned, being poor they don’t have time to learn about religion let alone to practice it, so it is understandable that when they find a helping hand they would gladly grab it and turn their back on their own religion.

God gives his love to man kind indiscriminately. The sun shines for everyone, the rain pour down for whoever needs it. The air is free for all. God is not sparing or stingy when it comes to worldly bounty and pleasures.

But man surely is. We tend to give only to those we love, approved of or agree with. And if only we could, we tend to make life difficult for those we disapproved of, hate or disagree with.

My mother quipped that if my father were God, his chess opponent might find numerous problems on his way home after he beats him two times in a row.

Thanks God, there is God.

Quote: The Most Merciful

Narrated by Abu Hurairah, I heard Allah’s Messenger said:

“Verily, Allah created mercy. The day He created it, He made it into one hundred parts. He withheld with Him ninety-nine parts, and sent its one part to all His creatures. Had a disbeliever known of all the mercy which is in the hands of Allah, he would not have lost hope of entering Paradise, and had a believer known of all the punishment which is present with Allah, he would not have considered himself safe from the Hell-fire.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Review: Damo

Damo is not a typical Korean movie where the loves between characters are clearly lined. The lead characters in Damo – Chae Ok, Commander Hwangbo and Jang Sung Baek – struggle in defining and fighting for what they consider as right, what they believe in.

As the differences in their position and status make it impossible for her and Commander Hwangbo to be anything more than what they are, Chae Ok tries to kill her unbounded love for the man she has loved since fate brought them together.

On the other hand since the day he saw the little girl with blistered feet and carried her on his back, Commander Hwangbo has felt responsible for her. With his complicated background he understands her pains and loneliness. Since then on they have become inseparable.

It took him sometimes to realise that his feelings for her are more than what a master normally felt toward his beloved servant – not that he ever thinks of her as his servant.

As the best King’s Commander, it is no wonder that Commander Hwangbo ends up with the task to catch an illusive insurgent’s leader, Jang Sung Baek who has made himself a Royal headache.

And naturally Chae Ok considers it her duty to do her best in catching Jang Sung Baek as well.

However, when she meets him she is inexplicably drawn to him. She doesn’t understand why she couldn’t bring her self to hurt him or why she falls in love with him loving Commander Hwangbo as she does.

Chae Ok has to strugle with only her unquestionable loyalty to carry out her duty.

But her loyalty towards Commander Hwangbo means death for the man who she denies to love. But not catching Jang Sung Baek also means death for the man whom she loves with her whole heart although she would never admit her feelings no matter what.

Not even when she finally knows that Commander Hwangbo also loves her.

I must tell you that I decided not to watch this drama when I started it and saw a final fighting scene between Chae Ok and Jang Sung Baek which they put as the first scene.Thinking that it was nothing more than a regular love turns to hate drama. Thinking that it was just another star crossed love story. However, I decided to give it another five minutes. And as the movie continued I fell in love with Commander Hwangbo.

I like the fact that despite his rather sad background he could rise and stand tall and become such an admirable man. But what I love most about him is his love for Chae Ok.

Although he also tried to kill his love for her, not because of their differences in position and status, for he cared nothing about that, but because that’s what Chae Ok wanted, in the end his true feelings win.

He could no longer deny that he truly and  sincerely loves her. That he loves her more than anything else. Even more than his own honor. And that says a lot being such an honorable man that he is.

I cried an ocean when Hwangbo finally realised who Jang Sung Baek really was. I cried an ocean because by then I knew what it meant. Loving Chae Ok as much as he does, Hwangbo would never have a chance when he fights Jang Sung Baek.

When my fears came true I cried another ocean and lashed out at the script writers for making the movie ended so tragically.

Yes, I hate the ending. I really really hate it.

Having said that, I have to be fair and say that Damo is a very good series. One of its kind. Way much better than Jumong. It’s worth your time and your tears.

I don’t recommend you to see Jumong. I bought it and have no plan to finish it. I’m not even willing to swallow my disappointment when I saw how the story went. I feel cheated by those who recommended Jumong as the biggest romance of the centuries. What romance!

Those people really need to watch Damo to learn what true love really means. Potato Boy (Sodongyo/Song of the Prince) is even better than Jumong when one wants to talk about the biggest love stories between ancient characters.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What are Indonesians Good At?

We’re good at creating strange, silly, and incomprehensible rules with no apparent reasonable reasoning let alone huge benefits nor effectiveness at solving problems. So don’t even bother asking about in depth study of the pros and cons of that rules.

Just yesterday when I was about to leave Foreign Affairs Department I was stopped by a security guard about five meters from the gate and was told that I couldn’t go that way. I was genuinely bewildered for I could see no reason why I couldn’t go that way, so reasonably I asked ‘Why not?

Instead of answering my question he pointed out a picture of a mother and her kid that was forward slash, perhaps it means that no women and children are allowed to use that gate. For your information I was coming through that gate when I came in – sitting inside a cab.

However, as I was in a relatively charitable mood since I was fasting, I offered him an answer myself, ‘Ah, perhaps it’s difficult to stop a taxi from here,’ said I understandably. And then obediently walked away towards the second gate which was about 100 meters in the middle of the hot afternoon sun.

As I walked my charitable mood started to evaporate under the hot sun and my brain power which was rather limited started to stir especially after I arrived at the second gate and saw an enter sign instead of out sign as I expected. And to top it off it was just as difficult to stop a taxi in front of that gate.

I know that thinking is not my forte for trying as hard as I was, I couldn’t find a reasonable answer as to why pedestrians are not allowed to pass through that gate.

That’s the example of how good we are at creating incomprehensible rule. Or perhaps a good example of how stupid I was?

Anyway, we’re also good at not taking apparent step/initiative to solve problems.

If you’re a Jakartan you probably know Casablanca Street particularly the section in front of the Ambassador Mall and are one of the frustrating and helpless victims of its traffic.

I for one is definitely frustrated when I happened to have to use that street, however, with limited brain power I could see no solution for it, and therefore just gritted my teeth and bear it. That’s another thing that we Indonesians are good at. We’re very good at accepting uncomfortable situations and conditions.

Back to Casablanca Street, a taxi driver told me not long ago that unlike other traffics that plague Jakarta’s streets, the traffic in the Casablanca Street is actually very easy to solve. Just build a bridge and a fence, so that no body could cross that street hence there’s no reason for the securities of that Mall to stop passing cars and creating that terrible traffic.

Simple isn’t it? The question is why is it not implemented? Is it possible that everybody else has also had a limited brain power like me?

Or is it really like what I argue that we’re only good at creating useless rules and not good at all at solving problems?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quote: Too Little Too Late

Narrated by Anas bin Malik, the Prophet said:

"A disbeliever will be asked: 'Suppose you had as much gold as to fill the earth, would you offer it to ransom yourself from the Hell-fire?' He will reply: 'Yes.' Then it will be said to him, 'You were asked for something easier than that (to join none in worship) with Allah, but you refused'"

Quote: Religion is Easy Not Hard

Narrated by Abu Hurairah, the Prophet said:

"Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion, will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by offering the Salat in the mornings, afternoons and during the last hours of the nights"