Thursday, March 31, 2011


The historical record is sparse, but a Chinese Liang Dynasty record (c. 500 AD) refers to the kingdom of "Lang-ya-xiu" (Chinese: 狼牙脩) as being founded in the 1st century AD. As described in the Chinese chronicles, Langkasuka was thirty days' journey from east to west, and twenty from north to south, 24,000 li in distance from Guangzhou. Its capital was said to be surrounded by walls to form a city with double gates, towers and pavilions. The Buddhist monk Yi Jing mentioned encountering three Chinese monks who lived in Lang-chia-su.

The kingdom's designation in Chinese records changed over time: it was known as "Lang-ya-se-chia" during the Song dynasty(960-1279); "Long-ya-si-jiao" during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368); and "Lang-se-chia" during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), as evidenced by the Mao Kun map of Admiral Zheng He.

The name "Langkasuka" was also mentioned in Malay and Javanese chronicles. Tamil sources name "Ilangasoka" as one ofRajendra Chola's conquests in his expedition against the Srivijaya empire. It was described as a kingdom that that was "undaunted in fierce battles".

In 515 AD King Bhagadatta first established relations with China, with further embassies sent in 523, 531 and 568. In the 12th century Langkasuka was a tributary to the Srivijaya empire, and around the 15th century it was replaced by the Pattani Kingdom.

In 1963, Stewart Wavell led a Cambridge Expedition to locate Langkasuka and Tambralinga. The details of this expedition can be read in The Naga King's Daughter, published by Antara Books.


Langkasuka (-langkha Sanskrit for "resplendent land" -sukkha for "bliss") was an ancient Hindu Malay kingdom located in the Malay Peninsula. Another possible source of its name could be the combination of (-langkha Sanskrit for "resplendent land" - and Asoka in tribute to the legendary Mauryan Hindu warrior king who eventually became a pacifist after embracing the ideals espoused in Buddhism), the ancient kingdoms of the Malay Isthmus - Langkasuka having been one of them - believed by some scholars to have been first founded or rebuilt by emissaries or descendants of Asoka from Magadha in India.

The kingdom along with Old Kedah are probably among the earliest kingdoms founded on the Malay Peninsula. According to tradition the founding of the kingdom happened in the 2nd century. Malay legends claim that Langkasuka was founded at Kedah, and later moved to Pattani.

Legend of the Tsunami Warrior (Queens of Langkasuka)

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by Jay Seaver

SCREENED AT THE 2009 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Buckle your swashes, folks, we're sailing for Thailand, circa the early 17th century. There, we can expect to find enough action, adventure, melodrama, and magic for an entire trilogy. It'll pop your eyes and maybe race your heart if it doesn't wear you out.

In 1593, we are told, a genius Dutch weaponeer was ambushed at sea while attempting to deliver two Great Cannons to Queen Haiju (Jarunee Suksawas), the strong but fair monarch of Langkasuka. His Chinese apprentice, Lim Kium (Jakrit Pnaichpatikam), washes up in a village of sea gypsies, where his inventions catch the eye of an orphan named Pari. Pari is brave, but angry, leading to Master White Ray (Sorapong Chatree) refusing to teach him the art of Du Lum sea sorcery. Ten years later, Lim is still there, and Pari (Ananda Everingham), now a man, joins him on missions against Black Raven (Winai Kraibutr), a pirate harassing the sea people. Black Raven has teamed with rebel prince Rawai (Ake Oree), whose attempt to assassinate Haiju was barely thwarted by Royal Guard Jarang ("Dan" Chupon Chanprung). Langkasuka needs allies, and if that means engaging combat-minded Princess Ungu (Anna Rees) to the Prince of Pahay, so be it.

Then, in the second act...

Queens of Langkasuka is sprawling, with the sea magic of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy augmented by some palace intrigue, a dash of Star Wars thrown in, and a bunch of muay thai fighting and soapy melodrama to perk up anyone who was feeling bored. And did I mention the ninja pirates? Or that the sunken Great Cannons are guarded by jellyfish stationed there by a Du Lum master, as they can command marine life? Director Nonzee Nimibutr and writer Win Lyovarin pack two or three movies' worth of madness into this film's 133 minutes, and they keep it up right to the end, jamming flashbacks and explanations of the philosophy behind Du Lum in until the film threatens to collapse under the weight. That never quite happens, although the movie could use a little breathing time at the end - all those subplots and relationships merit a little wrapping up, as opposed to what seems like a rush to get us out of the theater. No need to go all Return of the King on us, but throw us some sort of bone!

Those that came for the action may appreciate the quick exit once it's done, and they've certainly gotten their money's worth. Pari and Jarang tend to have armies of pirates to contend with, but they are handy with fists, feet, swords, etc. The fights are slick and bloody, even before considering that the pirates' and sea gypsies' costumes leave a lot of bare skin for swimming, so it's not like these guys can be padded much. It builds to a great big land-sea battle at the end, where there may not be as much hand-to-hand (barring treachery!), but the cannons and mystic control of marine life certainly get a work out.

That's one of the most CGI-intensive sections of the film, and the visual effects are pretty good, considering that they probably received a fraction of the resources that a Hollywood film of similar scale would have thrown at it. Nimibutr uses them (and meticulous design everywhere) to populate a striking world, with palaces, pirate ships, a gorgeous sea gypsy village, and hidden islands, all populated by fierce, elaborately tattooed people. Even when the graphics are a little dodgy, the fish, jellies, snakes, etc., swimming in formation at the behest of their masters are majestic and even thrilling.

The cast is nice, too - Ananda Everingham is not just intense, but sells the idea of Du Lum by making Pari seem like an extension of the sea. Chupon Chanprung is a fine, stoic hero as Jarang, and a great fighter besides. Jakrit Pnaichpatikam gives Lim both the restless genius and thirst for revenge he needs, while Jarunee Suksawas and Anna Rees are wonderful as Queen Haiju and Princess Ungu, respectively tempered and raw steel. The villains could be better, but they're also written kind of thin.

I imagine that's in part because Nimibutr might not figure on doing another fantasy epic, and wound up cramming all he could into this one. Like a delicious but too-large meal, it delights the senses, even if it does threaten to overwhelm.

Queens of Langkasuka From Wikipedia.

Queen Hijau (The Green Queen) of Pattani faces overthrow by the rebel Prince Rawai, who is allied with pirate captain Black Raven. The pirates attempt to capture some giant cannon invented by Dutchman Janis Bree and Chinese inventor Lim Kium, but the Dutch ship carrying the cannon blows up and the cannons sink into the sea.

Meanwhile, an orphan sea gypsy boy named Pari is raised in a fishing village, which is constantly under attack by Black Raven's raiding parties. The boy, gifted in the magical art of Du Lum, is taken by his uncle Anjar to learn more of the magical ways of the ocean from White Ray, but the sage refuses to teach the boy. Nonetheless, Pari is soon communicating with the marine life. He grows into manhood and becomes a fighter against Black Raven's pirates.

Black Raven, also a practitioner in the Du Lum ocean magical arts, has been trying to raise the cannons from the depths of the sea.

Queen Hijau wants her own large cannons and seeks the inventor Lim Kium, who has been living in the sea gypsy fishing village. She sends away her sisters, Princess Ungu (The Purple Princess) and Princess Biru (The Blue Princess). They will be under the protection of the queen's loyal commander, the fierce silat exponent Lord Jarang.

At the fishing village, Lord Jarang comes under attack. Pari aids Jarang in fighting off the pirates, and Jarang makes his escape. In the confusion, Princess Ungu is believed to have been killed, but she has actually been rescued by Pari and taken to White Ray's remote island.

There, a romance develops between Ungu and Pari, but neither are able to commit. Ungu is due to marry the Prince ofPahang, an important ally of Langkasuka. And Pari is still tortured by the death of his childhood sweetheart at the hands of Black Raven's men.

In a cave on the island, Pari encounters Black Ray, an evil, unstable alter ego of White Ray, and Pari begins to learn more about Du Lum and the conflict between the black and white sides of the practice.

Eventually, all the forces - the rebel prince, the pirates, the ocean sorcerers, the queen and the princesses - will battle for the big cannon.

Queens of Langkasuka, which went into production in 2005, was at first called Queens of Pattani, but the name was changed to avoid political connections to the South Thailand insurgency and Pattani separatism, and to tie the story in with the legend of Langkasuka.

The film premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Market to mixed reviews.[2] Derek Elley of Variety said the film lacked focus and at 133 minutes was too long.[1] Maggie Lee ofThe Hollywood Reporter was more upbeat, praising the sumptuous costume design and action sequences, but also said the film was too long.[3]

Based on the reception from the industry press, studio Sahamongkol Film International pushed for a shorter version of the film. The film's August 2008 release in Thai cinemas was postponed until October, with the director citing Thailand's unstable political atmosphere.[4]

A boost of confidence was given though, when the film was scheduled for the Venice Film Festival, where it would play in a special out-of-competition midnight screening.[5]Queens of Langkasuka was also the "gala opening" film for the 2008 Bangkok International Film Festival.[6]


22 March, 2011
By Wai

Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa

The studio that gave you "Cicakman" presents a multi-million Ringgit fantasy blockbuster in the best traditions of Hollywood. But does it measure up?

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then "Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa" will really get Hollywood blushing.

That is if the film ever manages to find an audience beyond these shores. For all its pretensions to being a film by, for and about Malaysians, it is very much geared towards a more "Western" sensibility. It even has a different title for the international market: "The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines". The irony is that in trying to mimic the syles and mindsets of Western cinema, it has lost whatever unique sense of identity that might’ve made it appealing to the Mat Sallehs.

And this is the biggest problem with Malaysian cinema in general. The lack of a singular, original voice. Perhaps our nation’s pluralism has something to do with it. Perhaps that’s just an excuse. After all, a few local filmmakers like the late Yasmin Ahmad managed to turn our diversity into a selling point, allowing their films to resonate even with foreigners. Ahmad’s films, like "Sepet" and "Gubra" celebrated true Malaysiana, warts and all. In being single-minded about the differences that make us what we are, her films felt honest. And honesty is a universally appreciable trait.

Of course, an art-house drama is a very different exercise compared to a mainstream action-fantasy blockbuster. But at heart, the same values apply. "Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa" is a reasonably well-made film, filled with moments of genuine entertainment, but at heart, it lacks a feeling of honesty. Throughout the entire running time, there are very few moments that feel like it’s a story about a Malaysian legend that is being told by Malaysian filmmakers. From the anachronistic character attitudes that are cribbed straight out of the Disney heroine textbook, to the costume designs that are more appropriate for Hollywood’s Swords & Sandals epics, to ethnic characters who speak in perfect English when they have no rightful reason to do so, to the quasi-inspirational speechifying lifted from a thousand war flicks, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that feels like it belongs here.

A shame, since the legend of Merong Mahawangsa is rich and compelling enough without the need for surface embellishments. For those of you unfamiliar with this figure from Malaysian folklore, he was supposedly a descendent of Alexander The Great, a formidable warrior who was instrumental in the founding of Kedah (then known as the kingdom of Langkasuka). Interestingly enough, the Merong Mahawangsa of history was a devout Buddhist, so take the movie’s depiction of him as a bloodletting scoundrel with a pinch of salt. In fact, the filmmakers take a great number of liberties with history, in the name of entertainment. No big deal, since this isn’t meant to be a documentary or even a biography. Playing fast and loose with our historical figures can actually make them more vivid and immediate.

Which is precisely what scriptwriters Yusry Abdul Halim and Amir Hafizi have done. To their credit, they have revived a name that most Malaysians (myself included) were only aware of on the most rudimentary level. Which says a lot about how history is taught in our schools. But I digress. In this tale, they’ve made Merong an educated savage in the manner of Mel Gibson’s legendary Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace ("Braveheart").

It works for the purposes of this story, since here he needs to be the rough & tumble sort, while eventually discovering his destiny as a king. The thing is, this isn’t his story alone. Probably out of some directive to invoke the Malaysian spirit of "muhibbah", the scope becomes global. Apparently, the Roman Empire of the 2nd Century AD saw fit to grow ties with the Chinese Empire. To accomplish that, they arranged for their prince, Marcus Carprenius to wed a Chinese princess, Meng Lihua. By chance, Merong gets roped in to escort the prince to the Malay peninsula, where the contingent from China awaits. Naturally, things don’t go according to plan. A fearsome tribe of pirates with supernatural powers enters the fray, and shit hits the fan. So far so fictitious, but if it makes for a good yarn, I’m all for it.

The problem is the way the yarn unravels. I do realise the need to paint in relatively broad strokes when playing to a mainstream audience: heroes and villains are uncomplicated people, with motivations in black & white, while the plot follows a linear path. Unfortunately, everything is SO broad and obvious in this film, they verge on parody. It certainly doesn’t help that this film falls prey to another ugly trait of local cinema— acute melodrama. Lines are declared with full bombast where they should just be spoken. Character intentions are broadcasted, in your face, where simple hints would suffice.

This lack of subtlety is what generally separates Southeast Asian cinema from our more advanced cousins in the Asia-Pacific region. A friend of mine argued that the audience mindset here is different compared to say, Japan or Australia. And I agree. The reason it’s like this is because we’re in a self-perpetuating loop. Filmmakers here are convinced that audiences cannot accept anything more sophisticated, so they keep giving us stuff that feeds the existing mentality. And the cycle continues…

Then add to the equation the barefaced aping I raised earlier. Copying is no great crime if you do it well, and understand how it should be done so that the result is something you can call your own. Some of the best directors are notorious magpies: Quentin Tarantino regularly rips off little-known B-movies, and turns them into refreshingly hip, modern takes. James Cameron’s "Avatar" was basically "Dances With Wolves" meets "Ferngully". But he added his geek-obsession with deep-sea marine life and his trademark techno-centricity to the mix and the film became something no one had ever seen before.

With "Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa" there is the distinct impression that you’ve seen it all before, and done much better elsewhere. Director Yusry Halim has an eye for what’s cool, but he lacks an understanding of context. Just because you can ape something, doesn’t mean you should. Case in point: the jittery, stop-motion style frame-rate for the climactic battle scenes. Treatments like these worked in films like Neil Burger’s "The Illusionist" because they aided the storytelling, and informed the audience of a character’s psychological state. Here, there’s no reason for it, other than saying "Hey, I think it looks kinda cool." Even worse, these techniques just draw unnecessary attention to themselves, and get in the way of the action or the dialogue.

HMM still2

In spite of all these impediments, most of the cast acquit themselves fairly well. Stephen Rahman-Hughes has the heaviest burden to shoulder. He has the thankless task of being the hero in a film that seems determined to make its hero look and sound silly. For the confrontational scenes, he isn’t able to overcome the directorial misstep of being made to deliver his lines like he’s a used-car salesman. Being saddled with a cheesy screenplay only accentuates this. It is only during the film’s quieter moments that Rahman-Hughes’ natural screen presence comes through, unfettered from the directive to try so hard. Good actors should never be over-directed, or they’ll just end up giving you a performance on par with the worst actors. British import Gavin Stenhouse also makes the best of a limited role. He has an easygoing charm that makes his Prince Marcus a guy to root for.

The film’s best performance however, belongs to veteran actor Dato’ Rahim Razali. Although buried under comedy Gandalf wig and beard, he brings a strong, calm dignity to his role as Pak Kesum, the wise old sage who guides Merong on his path to becoming a leader of men. Razali’s presence lends the film a much-needed air of gravity and believability.

I have to say that it is extremely difficult to do a period-set action-fantasy epic that actually comes across as epic. While the production values of "Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa" aren’t quite up to Western standards, it is still a pretty commendable effort by any measure. KRU Studios have managed to give their film the veneer of a production far more lavish than the reported budget of RM8 million. That kind of money can barely even finance the average independent film in America.

Now all they need to do is avoid the "Rojak" (fruit salad) syndrome, by finding a voice that is all their own.

Storyteller by trade and dreamer by nature, Wai has been deeply nuts about the celluloid world since the first time he discovered he could watch a story instead of reading it. But he likes writing about it. Wai goes by a single name because he likes to avoid any "Imperial entanglements" (a.k.a. "conflict of interest with the powers that be" for those of you who don?t speak Star Wars) in his employment. Plus, cool people use one-word names. He has just set up a movie website, the first of its kind in Malaysia, in an effort to foster greater filmic knowledge for the rakyat. Check outElectroshadow.

Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa


on a mix of legend and historical facts, the story tells of a warrior and sea captain named Merong Mahawangsa who is a descendant of Alexander the Great.

He is tasked with escorting a Roman prince to Langkasuka (present-day Langkawi) to marry a Chinese princess of the Han Dynasty. Before the marriage can take place, they are attacked by a group of pirates who kidnap the princess. Merong then vows to rescue the princess.

Watching this film is no different from reading a dry history textbook – at least this is how I felt. I went home knowing the legend but not feeling any emotional attachment to the story or the characters.

But I have to admit that the film’s RM8 million budget was well spent as there are some spectacular scenes. Unfortunately, the film fails to do the most important thing, which is touch our hearts.

I believe one of the main weaknesses of this film is that director Yusry had allowed part of the story to be narrated off-screen, not giving the actors a chance to establish a bond with one another and create magical moments on screen.

And the narrator’s voice is none too pleasant, sounding like a bad version of Darth Vader fromStar Wars!

None of the actors really stand out with the exception of Khir Rahman who plays the ruthless pirate Kamawas.

Perhaps, all the publicity and hype surrounding Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa had created too high an expectation for the film. Sad to say, it fails to deliver the goods where it counts most – in the hearts of the audience.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Duduk sebentar mendengar ceramah
tugas dakwah kewajipan ummah
memang hidup ini ada noktah
latihlah diri tekun beribadah

hari hari membilang hari
sampai masa diusung jua
latihlah diri iman dicari
iman mengasuh kemurnian jiwa

jiwa yang tenang tiada gundah
syaitan menghasut tidak berjaya
zikir dan wirid dalam ibadah
pelembut hati penenang jiwa

bergaullah dengan orang yang soleh
ilmu amalnya sama belajar
bahagia didunia akhirat pun boleh
penuh tawakkal banyak bersabar

dirikan solat dimalam hari
tahajjud taubat dan solat hajat
kepada Allah tundukkan hati
insha Allah diri sentiasa selamat

didalam solat hendaklah khusyuk
semua pergerakan berhati-hati
bacaan ayat penuh tawadduk
serta fahamkan maksud dan erti

nasihat ini untuk sesama
sahabat-sahabat yang seugama
sekadar terdaya saya bicara
adat teguran terbuka bicara

kalau ada jarum yang patah
saya boleh beri pengganti
dalam berpantun dalam bermadah
salam ukhuwah saya hurmati

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lee Kuan Yew menuduh banyak ketidakadilan berlaku di Malaysia


New York Times keluaran 1 September lalu melaporkan Lee melemparkan tuduhan kepada Malaysia dengan mendakwa terlalu banyak ketidakadilan berlaku di negara ini dengan bukan Melayu diketepikan, selain warga Malaysia dipisahkan oleh sistem persekolahan, kawasan perumahan dan tidak bercampur gaul.

Senario itu, katanya, berbeza dengan orang Melayu Singapura yang mendapat pendidikan Inggeris dan lebih ‘moden’ berbanding Melayu di Malaysia.

Malah, Lee mendakwa penggunaan Bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa pengantar di sekolah menyebabkan bukan Melayu terpaksa menempatkan anak mereka di sekolah bukan milik kerajaan. Lee turut membayangkan Malaysia mungkin lebih baik jika tidak terpisah dengan Singapura kerana republik itu kini telah mencapai tahap yang membanggakan dalam hubungan kaum.

Bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi berkata Malaysia tidak perlukan nasihat Menteri Mentor Singapura, Lee Kuan Yew kerana mempunyai cara tersendiri dalam mentadbir negara yang penduduknya terdiri daripada pelbagai kaum.

Beliau berkata kepelbagaian dan komposisi kaum serta adat resam masyarakat di Malaysia jauh berbeza dengan Singapura.

"Kita jauh berbeza dengan Singapura dan kenyataan Lee yang mengkritik sistem diamalkan di negara ini tidak boleh diterima kerana Malaysia menggunakan langkah dan kaedah yang berlainan dalam menguruskan hal berkaitan budaya serta perbezaan agama pelbagai kaum," katanya.

Persoalan yang timbul adalah kenapakah Lee masih mempedulikan tentang hal dalaman Malaysia? Adakah Lee menjadi jurucakap kepada Cina di Malaysia yang memperjuangkan ideologi PAP iaitu Malaysian Malaysia? Adakah perjuangan ideologi tersebut sudah tidak mendapat sambutan oleh rakyat Malaysia walaupun ianya diperjuangkan bersungguh-sungguh oleh suku sakat Lee iaitu DAP?

Hubungan kaum yang baik bagi pandangan Lee adalah apabila Cina menguasai segala-galanya dari segi ekonomi, kuasa politik, kekayaan negara, pentadbiran kerajaan, ketenteraan dan sebagainya. Lihatlah apa yang berlaku kepada orang-orang Melayu di Singapura? Adakah mereka diberi keadilan yang sebenar? Masih adakah suara orang Melayu di Singapura? Mereka ditekan secara halus sehinggakan menjadi semakin lemah tidak bermaya.

Strategi menekan cara halus turut dilakukan oleh DAP dan Cina di Pulau Pinang apabila tanah-tanah orang Melayu di sebelah pulau dibeli dengan harga yang tinggi untuk menggalakkan orang Melayu menjual tanah-tanah mereka. Kemudian didirikan hartanah yang dijual pula dengan harga yang tinggi sehinggakan orang Melayu tidak mampu membelinya. Sebaliknya hartanah di tanah besar seperti di Kulim dijual dengan harga jauh lebih rendah menyebabkan orang-orang Melayu Pulau Pinang berpindah ke Kedah menyebabkan jumlah orang Melayu di Pulau Pinang semakin berkurangan dan bilangan orang Cina pula yang bertambah. Apakah ini merupakan strategi menjadikan Pulau Pinang sebagai Singapura Kedua?

Apapun alasan Lee, biarlah Malaysia bergerak dengan cara kita, mana-mana yang baik yang boleh dijadikan panduan kita akan ambil. Saya secara peribadi bersetuju dengan Lee dalam sistem persekolahan di Malaysia. Kita sepatutnya hanya mempunya sekolah kebangsaan dan sekolah-sekolah Cina dan Tamil sepatutnya dihapuskan. Tetapi bila berkaitan dengan ideologi, eloklah Lee simpan saja kerana itulah menyebabkan Singapura ditendang keluar dari Malaysia dahulu. Kita bercerai tanpa ada anak pinak yang perlu dijaga bersama, anak-anak yang kita ada sekarang adalah bukan anak Lee. Tahulah kita menjaganya.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mitos disekitar keberadaan Kucing

Mitos disekitar keberadaan Kucing

Banyak mitos yang tercipta tentang kucing. Di Mesir, 3000 tahun yang lalu, kucing dianggap sebagai titisan dewa. Sedangkan, di Eropa kucing dianggap sebagai sihir setan atau pembawa bencana. Tak pelak lagi, pada masa abad kegelapan terjadi pemusnahan besar-besaran terhadap hewan lucu ini, hingga menyebar ke Afrika Utara. Padahal, wabah yang oleh masyarakat saat itu dianggap sebagai kutukan adalah jenis penyakit pes yang diakibatkan oleh meledaknya populasi tikus dan penurunan populasi kucing sebagai predator.

Cerita Nabi Muhammad SAW dan Kucingnya.

Diceritakan dalam suatu kisah, Nabi Muhammad SAW memiliki seekor kucing yang diberi nama Mueeza. Suatu saat, dikala nabi hendak mengambil jubahnya, di temuinya Mueeza sedang terlelap tidur dengan santai diatas jubahnya. Tak ingin mengganggu hewan kesayangannya itu, nabi pun memotong belahan lengan yang ditiduri mueeza dari jubahnya. Ketika Nabi kembali ke rumah, Muezza terbangun dan merunduk kepada majikannya. Sebgai balasan, nabi menyatakan kasih sayangnya dengan mengelus lembut ke badan mungil kucing itu.

Dalam aktivitas lain, setiap kali Nabi menerima tamu di rumahnya, nabi selalu menggendong mueeza dan di taruh dipahanya. Salah satu sifat Mueeza yang nabi sukai ialah, ia selalu mengeong ketika mendengar azan, dan seolah-olah suaranya terdengar seperti mengikuti lantunan suara adzan. Bahkan kepada para sahabatnya, nabi berpesan untuk menyayangi kucing peliharaan layaknya menyanyangi keluarga sendiri.

Hukuman bagi mereka yang menyakiti hewan lucu ini sangatlah serius, dalam sebuah hadist shahih Al bukhori, dikisahkan tentang seorang wanita yang tidak pernah memberi makan kucingnya, dan tidak pula melepas kucingnya untuk mencari makan sendiri, Nabi SAW pun menjelaskan bahwa hukuman bagi wanita ini adalah siksa neraka.
Beberapa diantara orang terdekat nabi juga memelihara kucing. Aisyah binti abubakar shiddiq, istri nabi amat menyayangi kucing, dan merasa amat kehilangan dikala ditinggal pergi oleh si kucing. Abdurrahman bin sakhr al Azdi. diberi julukan Abu huruyrah (bapak para kucing jantan), karena kegemarannya dalam merawat dan memelihara berbagai kucing jantan dirumahnya.

Penghormatan para tokoh islam terhadap kucing pasca wafatnya Nabi SAW.

Dalam buku yang berjudul Cats of Cairo, Baybars al zahir, seorang sultan dari dinasti mamluk yang terkenal tegas dan berani, ternyata sangat menyayangi kucing. Bahkan al zahir sengaja membangun taman-taman khusus bagi kucing dan menyediakan berbagai jenis makanan didalamnya.
Tradisi ini akhirnya menjadi adat istiadat di berbagai kota-kota besar negara islam. Hingga saat ini, mulai dari damaskus, istanbul, hingga kairo, masih bisa kita jumpai kucing-kucing yang berkeliaran di pojok-pojok masjid tua dengan berbagai macam makanan yang disediakan oleh penduduk setempat.

Pengaruh Kucing dalam Seni Islam.

Pada abad 13, sebagai manifestasi penghargaan masyarakat islam, rupa kucing dijadikan sebagai ukiran cincin para khalifah, termasuk porselen, patung hingga mata uang. Bahkan didunia sastra, para penyair tak ragu untuk membuat syair bagi kucing peliharaannya yang telah berjasa melindungi buku-buku mereka dari gigitan tikus dan serangga lainnya.

Kucing yang memberi inspirasi bagi para sufi.

Seorang Sufi ternama bernama ibnu bashad yang hidup pada abad ke sepuluh bercerita, suatu saat ia dan sahabat-sahabatnya sedang duduk santai melepas lelah di atas atap masjid kota kairo sambil menikmati makan malam. Ketika seekor kucing melewatinya, Ibnu bashad memberi sepotong daging kepada kucing itu, namun tak lama kemudian kucing itu balik lagi, setelah memberinya potongan yang ke dua, diam-diam ibnu bashad mengikuti kearah kucing itu pergi, hingga akhirnya ia sampai disebuah atap rumah kumuh, dan didapatinya si kucing tadi sedang menyodorkan sepotong daging yang diberikan ibnu bashad kepada kucing lain yang buta kedua matanya. Peristiwa ini sangat menyentuh hatinya. hingga ia menjadi seorang sufi sampai ajal menjemputnya pada tahun 1067.

Ada juga cerita tentang seorang sufi di Iraq yang bernama Shibli, ia bermimpi dosa-dosanya diampuni setelah menyelamatkan nyawa seekor anak kucing dari bahaya. Selain itu, kaum sufi juga percaya, bahwa dengkuran nafas kucing memiliki irama yang sama dengan dzikir kalimah Allah.

Cerita yang dijadikan sebagai sauri tauladan

Salah satu cerita yang cukup mahsyur yaitu tentang seekor kucing peliharaan yang dipercaya oleh seorang pria, untuk menjaga anaknya yang masih bayi dikala ia pergi selama beberapa saat. Bagaikan prajurit yang mengawal tuannya, kucing itu tak hentinya berjaga di sekitar sang bayi. Tak lama kemudian melintaslah ular berbisa yang sangat berbahaya di dekat si bayi mungil tersebut. Kucing itu dengan sigapnya menyerang ular itu hingga mati dengan darah yang berceceran.

Sorenya ketika si pria pulang, ia kaget melihat begitu banyak darah di kasur bayinya. Prasangkanya berbisik, si kucing telah membunuh anak kesayangannya! Tak ayal lagi, ia mengambil pisau dan memenggal leher kucing yang tak berdosa itu.
Setelah melakukan aksi keji itu, tiba-tiba sang pria tersebut tersentak kaget, bagaimana tidak! ia melihat anaknya terbangun, dengan bangkai ular yang telah tercabik di bawah tempat tidur anaknya. melihat itu, si pria menangis dan menyesali perbuatannya setelah menyadari bahwa ia telah membunuh kucing peliharaannya yang telah bertaruh nyawa menjaga keselamatan anaknya. Kisah ini menjadi refleksi bagi masyarakat islam di timur tengah untuk tidak berburuk sangka kepada siapapun.

Adakah manfaat kucing bagi dunia ilmu pengetahuan?

Salah satu kitab terkenal yang ditulis oleh cendikia muslim tempo dulu adalah kitab hayat al hayaawan yang telah menjadi inspirasi bagi perkembangan dunia zoologi saat ini, Salah satu isinya mengenai ilmu medis, banyak para dokter muslim tempo dulu yang menjadikan kucing sebagai terapi medis untuk penyembuhan tulang, melalui dengkuran suaranya yang setara dengan gelombang sebesar 50 hertz. Dengkuran tersebut menjadi frekuensi optimal dalam menstimulasi pemulihan tulang.

Tak hanya ilmu pengetahuan, bangsa barat juga banyak membawa berbagai jenis kucing dari timur tengah, hingga akhirnya kepunahan kucing akibat mitos alat sihir dapat terselamatkan. (dari berbagai sumber)

Indian Dhoti

The dhoti is the most traditional of all dresses for men in India. If you ever see photographs of Indian men before, during and soon-after the independence era, you will find many of them wearing the dhoti dress teemed with a kurta. Earlier the dhoti used to be a casual daily wear of the Indian men. But with modernization of our society, it steadily relegated to being just formal clothing in India, though there are still people especially in the rural belts for whom dhoti is the regular clothing attire.

The dhoti is a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth about five yards long, wrapped about the waist and the legs and knotted at the waist. It is known by different names like Laacha in Punjabi, Mundu in Malayalam, Dhuti in Bangla, Veshti in Tamil, Pancha in Telugu, Dhotar in Marathi and Panche in Kannada. In north India, the dhoti is worn in combination with a kurta top, which a long loose fitting shirt. The dhoti kurta dress is called dhuti panjabi in east India. This dhoti dress is different from a lungi as the cloth of the latter is stitched to form a circle.

The dhoti dress may have lost its popularity in modern day India, but it is still worn with a lot of dignity by the many prominent senior citizens, politicians, musicians, dancers and others. Apart from being worn on all important government and family occasions, the dhoti kurta is also allowed to be donned in post upscale clubs, which normally stipulate very stern dress code for guests. The one prominent Indian citizen who gets all credit for popularizing this attire beyond the Indian borders is Mahatma Gandhi.

There are various styles of wearing the Indian dhoti. For instance, the Bengali men usually make pleats in their dhoti. In south India, the dhoti wearers added the angavastram to their attire, which is an extra piece of unstitched cloth kept on the shoulders. For convenience purpose, many south Indian men fold their dhoti in half and tuck it at the waist so that it reaches only till the knees. In certain Indian communities in Rajasthan, wearing the dhoti-kurta is mandatory.

Interlok : “rambut tidak putus, tepung tidak berselerak”

FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2011

By Syed Akbar Ali.
Few people realise that Sasterawan Negara Y.Bhg. Datuk Abdullah Hussain wrote the Interlok novel 40 years ago circa 1971. At that time perhaps the most rabidly race centric Malay outfit in existence in Malaysia was the PAS. 1971 was also just a few years before the establishment of race centred ABIM, in its original manifestation.

That was a time when it was ok for the Tunku to hold a glass of whiskey when meeting the Press and even Government functions served alchohol. Women did not wear tudung, Policemen, school masters and everyone else sensibly wore shorts everywhere without raising any comment. That was another country we lived in. It was not the Malaysia of today. The rise of PAS, ABIM and the other religion (and race) centred opportunists has had significant influence on the nation. Whether that influence is good or bad, I will let you the reader to decide (for today only).

Fastforwarding to 2011, where there are accusations from some Tamils that the author of Interlok and relevant sections of the Malay (literary) community that supports him were or are racists is a latter day manifestation of what the country has become today. Do note that the Chinese community has not raised any issues over this novel, despite a Chinese being a main character too.

“Watak Cing Huat digambarkan sebagai seorang anak muda Tionghua yang bekerja keras meneruskan perniagaan bapanya sehingga menjadi kaya raya dan dihormati oleh masyarakat.“

Also in the novel, the Malay character Seman addresses the Indian character Maniam as “Tuan”.


“…sebagai penghormatan kepada Maniam, Seman memanggil Maniam dengan panggilan tuan.”


If the Malay author was racist, it would seem that Cing Huat the Chinese character and Maniam the Indian character escaped his prejudice.


The Government has gone to some extent to settle this issue. The language used by the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyuddin Yassin in his answer in Parliament has some class by itself :


”Bagai menarik rambut dalam tepung, rambut tidak putus, tepung tidak berselerak. Dalam menangani isu novel Interlok, Kementerian mengambil langkah yang amat teliti supaya sebarang keputusan yang dibuat adalah rasional, munasabah dan dapat diterima oleh semua pihak.”


The special Cabinet Appointed Panel had three representatives from the Indian community namely Prof. Dr. NS Rajendran, Encik G. Krishnabahawan and Encik Uthaya Sankar.


The offending word ”kasta Paria” has been replaced with the phrase ”golongan yang sama”.


There were 106 other points raised, of which 19 have been adopted. Among the changes include putting the author’s name on the book cover (Why wasn’t that done earlier? As an author the first thing I want on my books is my name)


The Tamil word ”tali” is to be spelt ”taali”, ”papa” changed to ”appa” and ”cawat” replaced with ”dhoti”.


I find ‘dhoti’ a little off the mark though. I believe the word ’dhoti’ is Hindustani (please correct me if I am wrong). I don’t think it is Tamil. ‘Cawat’ means loincloth, common garb in India until today and in pre Merdeka Malaya among estate workers.


As late as the 1960s, I recall the ’coconut pluckers’ who used to go around the houses in Ipoh, some of whom would pakai ’cawat’ when they climbed our coconut trees to pluck coconuts.


Here is a really fantastic picture of estate coolies on Carey Island in pre war Malaya. They are wearing loincloths or 'cawat' in Malay. I have seen those type of 'kereta lembu' with those huge whels, when I was a small boy in Perak.



Here is a picture of an Indian dhoti, which is also worn by Brahmins and other castes in India.



There were other issues raised about cows being holy, Indian wedding rituals that were deemed tiresome (in the book) and stuff.


What I found more relevant was the insistence by the Tamils that the word ”tuhan” in the Interlok book be changed to ”dewa”. At a time when others are clamoring to share the word ’Allah’ (ostensibly for Ibans and Kadazans who neither understand the Arabic ”Allah” nor grasp fully the Malay ”tuhan”) the Tamil objection here is more honest. They don’t want Hindu Tamil children to get confused by the Malay ”tuhan” which in the Peninsula also indicates ”Allah”. Maybe they are afraid silap-silap nanti 'masuk Melayu' pula.


As an author I do feel sad that a writer has had his book mangled by politicians. The loudest voices in this affair has come from unemployed politicians. This is just another time wasting political play.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yemenis admire Dr M and Malaysia

Sunday March 27, 2011

Photos by GLENN GUAN

And the 28-year-old tailor outdid himself. He stuck a number of small Yemeni flags on his head and wore a protest bandana as a tie.

The tailoring business has been a bit slow of late because people are uncertain of what would happen in the future so they have been holding on to their money.

Anti-government protesters chanting slogans and holding up placards during a demonstration at Tahrir Square demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana'a, Yemen, yesterday. - Glenn Guan/The Star

So Mohamed decided to come to the square and sell anti-government bandanas, caps, stickers and the country's flags.

“The protests are outpourings coming from the heart. So people are buying all these things as keepsakes to remember the moment,” he said.

One of those with anti-government protest souvenirs is 29-year-old Marwan Amery.

“It is a youth revolution. We want to make Yemen just like Malaysia.

“In just 10 years, we have seen how Malaysia has developed rapidly economically, in education, finance, tourism, and industries.

“Malaysians have gone all over the world to study and have come to their country with good thinking and good ideas' to contribute.

“We have watched Malaysia blossom and we want that for our own future. Is that too much to ask,” he said.

Marwan believed Malaysians owed it to all Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who during his 22-year tenure as Prime Minister, transformed Malaysia to the position it is today.

“Are Dr Mahathir Mohamad's ancestors from Yemen by any chance? Could they have come from Hadramont (in Yemen)? A lot of Malaysians have blood ties there,” asked a hopeful Marwan.

Yemenis as a whole have high regard for Malaysia and in particular Dr Mahathir.

Marwan wishes his own president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled Yemen for 32 years, would have done half as much for his country.

“Saleh has done nothing for us,” he said.

For him, Saleh and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are two sides of the same coin.

“But at least Gaddafi is consistent so his people know what they are dealing with.

“But Saleh is sly. He says one thing and does something else and he changes his word all the time.

“I think if Saleh is left to continue, in the future he can be as brutal as Gaddafi has been to his people. That is why we must get him out now,” he said.

It has been seven weeks now since the anti-government protesters have camped out at the square with the aim of kicking their president out.

And they seem to be closer to reaching their goal as ministers, ambassadors, and key army figures have now backed their protest, after the March 18 deadly attack when snipers on rooftops, loyal to the regime, shot at unarmed protesters, killing 56 and injuring hundreds of others.

Amar Attam is also keen on seeing the end of Saleh.

He said all the concessions Saleh was trying to make now including an early exit, early elections, offers of a dialogue, making sure he hands over power to “safe hands” were pointless.

“He didn't do good in his younger years and ruling the country for 32 years ... So I don't expect him to change and do good now in his later years.

“He is a liar and a murderer. Why couldn't we have a president like Dr Mahathir Mohamad?”

When pointed out that Dr Mahathir had little tolerance for anti-government street protests, Amar retorted: “If we had a democratic country and a leader like Dr Mahathir who cared for his people and made sure the country and its people prospered, then we would have no need for street protests!”