A CAFE DIALOGUE…AN OLIGARCH, A CARDIOLOGIST AND MY ‘UMBLE SELF
Dear TS WanMing,
I came back last night and kept thinking of the appropriate word to rehash what I said to both of you at the Starbucks. Let me give it a try now, earlier, as we never know what Nik Hock is up to and pre-empts me with his ‘imperialism of the piety of fear’.
Without missing reference to your historical marker point of the Battle of Gallipoli , when a muslim force last won a major battle , I took notice that socio-political thought change hasn’t been remarkably much, if any at all, in the muslim milieu. We therefore lack the ‘narratives’ to articulate those changes and since the ‘Islamic’ socio-political change requires an ecclesiastical ‘arabic language’ expression, we lack that even more. The parchness of our milieu in that narrative of change has hit the arabic language worst. So I gave you two examples of where that occured, like the use of the word ‘ihtijaj’ and ‘intifadha’ to describe ‘demonstration’ and ‘ uprising’ using the root words of ‘haaj’ ,’hujjah’ and ‘faidh’ meaning ‘argument ‘ and ‘ surplus of space’. It is obvious , the arab socio-political milieu have not seen demonstration nor protest and uprising of that nature for a long time, certainly well before the Battle of Gallipoli. As a non-originator of thought, since the BofG (Battle of Gallipoli) the arabic language has to run to borrow and even create words just to be able to keep up with the world’s narrations. When it comes to socio-political structuring it hits that milieu in the parchness of its journals and publications. Hence, if the thinking of the arabic socio-political milieu is going to be our resource base, for Hudud Law, we are going into deep trouble for we are going into the milieu of narrative poverty. If I may repeat, the last respectable journal of criminal law was that of the ‘Mejelle’ the records of the proceedings in the Ottoman judiciary in Cyprus and that was a lil before the BoG. The articulation and drafting of the Hudud Law will suffer the same pain as the Law for Islamic Banking. If it worked and is working ( past and resent continuous tense!) for the latter, God Willing it will work for the former.
If I may plagiarise from you once again, the ‘narrative’ requires a rich , ‘free and sovereign’ political history and here outside the arab milieu in our own Malay peninsula we suffered from the being a ‘feeble feudal society’, where religiosity is a feeble feudal manifest of the feudal ‘bakhila’ over the clerical ‘khoja’ class , running in parallel with a colonial hegemony. Nevertheless, I reiterated to you last night that we in our South East Asian countries have a socio-political history of a spread that is second to none in the world in order to refer to as resources in the reconstruction and formulation of our ‘religious’ thought and building its institutions, in law and justice, economics and trade, government and diplomacy. Hence I revealed my concern at the lack of our strong acquaintance with our ‘regional socio-political milieu’ at the expense of our preoccupation with our tunnelled vision at the ‘arab and middle eastern milieu’, this tunnel being created at and to the exclusion and non-porosity with the cocurrent and parallel socio-political milieux in the world today particularly in our region. We remember the huge humiliation at the demolition of the Egyptian army in the 1967 6-day war but we are not familiar with the victory of the rag tag Vietnamese Army in the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu, whence the latter led to the collapse of the French Colonial Empire and led to the ‘independence’ of Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia. Dien Bien Phu saw the desertion of the Muslims conscripted soldiers in the French Colonial Army under Gen Christian Marie de la Croix Castrides to join the regiment of 19 years old Pvt Hoang Dang Vinh in droves. We identify with the humiliation of the obvious incompetency and ‘feeble feudal milieu ‘army of the downtrodden, we do not identify with the pride of a decolonising country , whose victory changed the socio-political map of our own ‘islamic milieu’.
If I may, the ‘Imperialism of the piety of the feeble feudal milieu’ is hitting us hard, we are hardly convinced yet with the ‘free religious will’ to accept the ‘ persuasive’ of Islam and we are now going into the ‘imperative’ , like you said, more than 50 years of ‘independence’ and enfranchising with a post-independent constituion and state building , we better be freakingly prepared, that is simple law of thermodynamics of the competitive advantage of milieux ( x is added as plural in french) and nations. The ‘persuasive’ is when so many retired university lecturers in Islamic Studies go round from surau to house to surau conducting ‘tazkirah’ and ‘ majlis ilmu’ and the ‘imperative’ is when you make them stand for elections and become law-makers. Needless to say few of the ‘persuasive’ class will become the ‘imperative’ class, as drafting laws and defending its bases is an art that demands a high intellectual calibre and not the ‘rote’ khojahood of opening a dull kitab and reading it out to redemption seeking retired ex-sinners.
Our imperative religious class in articulating Hudud Law must be a master class that when speaking to the 30% he can make the balance 70% listen to him more intensely than the 30%. Law -Making is an all encompassing exercise, it is a constitutional matter, not of personal piety and a 30% internal persuasion, it has to be a 70% acceptance or at least tolerance. That is not a difficult task, if not an interesting and very challenging one, indeed will go with the maxim of the ‘easier getting to be easier’.
I wanted to share the subject of my personal history as project director of the Southern Sudan Oil Development project, not just with the need to seek your ‘intervention’ in the process of expediting payment of fees to the arbritrators in London but also as a very good case study of what the ‘imperialism of the feeble milieu ‘ can do to a national oil company , if not just to Hudud Law. A small country and economy we already are, but we had the might of China in that Melut Basin Oil project and yet our august ,National Oil Company chose to pull out, hook line and sinker, losing our ‘avantage Africain” while Petrochina rode on us and stride on to economically conquer Africa.
Next, you touched on the subject of how we are marrying off our children and how we, yes the three of us, enlightened, much wayfaring, top of our professions kelantanese fellows, related to one another by blood and further enforced by incestuous marriages are STILL continuing that propagation of the DNA of the’ feeble feudal milieu’. Insha Allah, I have taken steps to change and change all the three of us shall do, only we need to convince our ‘feeble milieu’ wives and regiment of overbearing aunts.
Then you spoke about your mountain climbing guide Ashraf Ahmad , whence during your K summit attempt, you saw ‘Azad Kashmir’ and then Ashraf Saab went on to narrate to you how the ‘ Shiites and Sunnis’ of Hunzar, Gilgit, Kashmir and the plains of Northern India got united and fought the Indian regiments out of North West Kashmir, even the ‘heretic’ Ismailis ( declared heretics by the Shiites!) were in the battle fray with the Sunno-Shii alliance. Not that you are for Pakistan and against India, but to illustrate your dismay at the later conspiracy to put shit on the sunni-shii alliancing. How on earth it became a ‘khutbah topic’ drafted by the MAIS and you had to bear with it one friday at Taman Melawati mosque.
With that let us close our discourse on Hudud Law and I am writing this as fast as I can for I cannot let Nik Hock put shit on us, he will certainly do it, for I dont think he went back to sleep last nighrt, instead he went straight to the hospital to write and wait for some poor fellow’s artery to repair.
Bon voyage .