Sunday, April 15, 2007

Recently the National Fatwa Council of my Country gave out edicts on two matters which to me is laughable. One on ghost the other on investing on the Internet. I will touch on the first one first. To me ghouls and ghost is the staple food of the people here be it Chinese, Malay or Indian. Since the 70's any horror picture was ban to be produce by Malays, until recently. Vampires stories like 'Pontianak' was ban from TV's. So no Dracula for me on terrestial TV, no Christopher Lee, a pity, really because I love good fright. Recently the censorship board relaxes the unofficial ban, we have a watered down version of the Pontianak that was made, since the floodgate was open, all kind of horror stories was in the making. Exhibits about ghouls and ghosts were displayed in the Museum, and believe me, the queue was enormous. Since then the exhibit has gather wide support from the Museum authorities to increase more visitors to their Museums. The State Mufti was up in arms, so it was not surprisingly these fatwa was proclaim. Resulted in the closure of the Exhibit in the Museum in Seremban with immediate effect. The funny part was a similar edict was proclaim about smoking cigarettes in 1993. It was haram but yet since certain religious leader too smoke, so it was never enforce. As I said selective enforcement is the culture of the Malays here, and it is a tragedy. Here is one news that the readers might find interesting

15/04: Pontianak HARAM Sundal Malam?

By Farouk A. Peru
I was a little disappointed to read here that the National Fatwa Council had declared that the exhibition about ghosts, ghouls and the supernatural as 'haram' (forbidden) in Islam as they could 'undermine the faith of the Muslims'. I grew up on the delicious chills of these stories and they always brought our family, especially my siblings and I, closer together and yet none of us ever questioned the tawheed of Islam. Are these ghosts, ghouls and the supernatural really antithetical to Islam? Although the rationalist schools in Islam tend to believe the jinn to be a certain kind of human being, traditional interpretations would probably slot our ghosts, ghouls and supernatural beings under the 'jinn' category . The hadith below, approved by Al-Albanee, who once taught hadith at the University of Madinah, goes:Abu Tha’labah al-Khushani said: “The Messenger of Allaah - May Allah's peace and blessings be on him said The jinn are of three types: a types that has wings, and they fly through the air; a type that looks like snakes and dogs; and a type that stops for a rest then resumes its journey.” So the jinn recognised by the Messenger was also of varying shapes. That sounds familiar..So prominent are the jinn in traditional Islamic thought, we get even legal problems as the below:In Al-Ashbah wa An-Nadha'r, Imam As-Suyuti, an eminent Shafi`i scholar, wrote: ''Answering the question 'is it lawful for a human being to marry a jinni?' Imad Ibn Yunus said, 'Yes'.This doesn't sound too different from our pontianak-marrying tales, although a nail in her nape of the neck is included in our case, to be sure!My point in quoting the above hadith and fatwa is to show that even if this information isn't true, the phenomenon exists in Arab culture at least. Descriptively speaking, this exhibition is about the very same thing with the only difference being that this exhibition isn't of an Arabic origin but of a Malay one. Therefore it may be too harsh to pronounce this exhibition to be 'haram'. If we assume this phenomenon of ghosts, ghouls and the supernatural to be part of our culture, we may be able to study them as outgrowths of our collective psychology. We can also perhaps study the comparitive literature about this phenomenon from the olden days up till now. This would yield a further insight into the Malay psyche.Of course there are people who actually do believe in these things but simply banning an exhibition won't help matters. There's also the internet where some Malay horror story websites have existed for almost a decade! Also, emails are often sent out with pictures and videos of alleged sightings of these creatures. Lets not also forget that we had prominent ulamak teaching us about the jinn and some of them claiming they lead the jinn in the sembahyang, not to mention writing books on jinn-affliction and its cures! They wasn't talking about Arab jinn but our local orang halus so I suppose we must consider banning these ulamak as well. Lets keep our culture intact and not let it get eroded by fears like this. The Malays can be sound,rational individuals like anyone else and can tell between reality and the products of the imagination. Perhaps the National Fatwa Council could produce literature defending Islamic monotheism from this phenomenon instead? That would be far more helpful for us to understand this phenomenon from an Islamic perspective.

Saturday April 14, 2007
Ghosts made to vanish
SEREMBAN: The state government has decided to stop the ongoing exhibition on ghosts, ghouls and supernatural beings at the museum here.
State Secretary Datuk Kamaruddin Siaraf issued the directive after the National Fatwa Council said that such exhibitions were forbidden in Islam as they could undermine the faith of Muslims.
Huge crowds have turned up since the exhibition opened at the state museum on March 10.
Kamaruddin, who is also the chairman of the state museum board, said visitors were barred from going to the exhibition since 3pm yesterday.
National Fatwa Council chairman Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin had said that the council felt that spirits and supernatural beings were beyond the comprehension of the human mind as they involved the “invisible world.”
“We don’t want to promote a belief in tahyul (supernatural) and khurafat (superstition) which we do not know about. So, we do not need to focus on such things or play them up by having such exhibitions,” he said.
Dr Abdul Shukor added: “The issue of such exhibitions, often highlighted in the media, has raised a conflict of interest among certain quarters and this is not healthy for Muslims. Therefore, we hope such exhibitions will no longer be held.”


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