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Forward October 2009


Wherever you are, death will overtake you even though you are in strong and lofty towers.

(Verse 78, Surah An Nisaa’, Al-Quran)

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November 2009 I Issue 41 www.forwardmagazine.com.my

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FEATURES:

In Mecca crowds of people are overtaking each other trying to get the best seat in Masjidil Haram, as near as possible to the Kaabah, the house of Allah Most High. This happens five times a day, despite having to fast.

Departments News:

MYANMAR: Few options for the blind JORDAN: How best to save the Dead Sea?

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PHILIPPINES: Water and sanitation situation in Mindanao “critical”

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INDONESIA: QUAKE DEVASTATION EXPOSES POOR BUILDING STANDARDS

COVER STORY

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The national birth rate has dropped from 6.2 children per household to a mere 2.2 within a generation. Through a research study, Professor Jariah says men are to be blamed for this sharp decline. Apparently women are still interested in having more children, but lack the physical support of men.

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Forward November 2009


Agenda SCIENCE & TECH:

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The advancement of technology launched innovative means to help the society, and along comes Quickschools.com. Student grading is a complex process but Quickschools.com, a system that does all the consolidation and report generation for teachers, is here to help and the system is completely customizable to anyone’s requirements.

PURSUITS:

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At the age of 14, Redzuawan Ismail wrote ‘Irwan Ismail’ - a name he felt appealing and glamourous - on his first recipe book entitled ‘Enjoy Cookies.’ The nostalgic book and ‘Irwan Ismail’ have gone no where but the writer is somebody Malaysians are proud of for his 25 years of achievements in making local food great food.

FOOD:

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The rich taste, colour and flavour of the dishes were the product of the past generation who were skilful and tactful in preparing each of the food that was much anticipated and exclusively was made available only during festive celebration unlike today.

Glocal Spectrum:

22 Entrepreneurial Revival of the Tradition of Muslim Hammām (“SPA”)

Foreign Affairs:

Obama’s peace effort has failed but our struggle continues

Other Departments: This Month, Gadget, Photo Essay, Personality, Monthly Notes, Nuances, Your Say, Books & Critics, Commentary, Living Islam.

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Travels:

Zhaotong Prefecture: A Journey into Light in the Darkness

ENTERING THE HOLY OF HOLIES

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27 OTHER DIMENSIONS

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There has been no lack of planning intent to overcome the problems relating to transportation and infrastructure. As stated in the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006-2010), “measures will be implemented to improve multimodal public transport, particularly in urban areas, to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution;” and “public transport facilities and services will be graded and further integrated to encourage a modal shift from private vehicle usage to public transport.” Tell us what you think. We promise to read everything you send, really. Write to: The Editor, Forward Magazine, No. 68-B, Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur.

A Member of:

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from the editor

It’s very difficult for new Muslims or for that matter even those born into Islam to find individuals that live according to the Syariah and the Prophetic traditions. Yes a lot of people do find themselves many times in conversation or discussion about Islam and very often, others will just be nodding their heads in agreement without saying much. It’s either they really do understand what is being said or do not have much knowledge on the subject to butt in their two cents worth. Disappointingly it’s more because of the former than the latter. Despite the numerous number of people educated in the Islamic sciences teaching at various institutions such as suraus and masjids, only a handful of Muslims understood the will of Allah Most High and even smaller number truly guided by the Prophetic traditions. The rest of Muslims are more likely engrossed in a way of life far removed from what Allah Most High decreed as reflected in the way Prophet Muhammad (May Allah bless him and given him peace) carried himself. As created beings, we depend on the mercy of Allah Most High to understand Islam rather than our own act or will. It’s for this reason that those fortunate enough to spend time in Makkah will supplicate in all sincerity for His Mercy. Many Qur’anic verses and hadiths show that iman or “true faith” is obligatory and rewarded by paradise, and that kufr or “disbelief ” is a transgression and punished by hell. Every Muslim must know certain matters of faith, be convinced of them him/herself, and not merely imitate others who believe. The faith God requires of man is expressed in the words, “The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the believers. Each believes in Allah, His angels, His books, and His messengers. We do not differentiate between any of His messengers, and they say: We hear and obey, O Lord grant us Your forgiveness, and unto You is the final becoming” (Qur’an 2:285).

Zulkafly Baharuddin

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what’s news MYANMAR: Few options for the blind YANGON - Myanmar has one of the highest rates of blindness in Asia, yet the country has scant resources to help visually impaired people, medical researchers and aid workers say. The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008 identified avoidable blindness as an emerging health issue in the country, while aid organizations say it is a major public health concern in impoverished rural areas. Researchers and aid workers say there is a lack of eye care services and resources in Myanmar. According to the Vision Myanmar Programme, a training and research project run by the South Australian Institute of Ophtalmology, there are only 200 eye surgeons or ophthalmologists for Myanmar’s population of over 50 million. Most are in Yangon and Mandalay. Outside of these two cities, there is one ophthalmologist for every half a million people, it said. “Of course there is a shortage of doctors… There simply aren’t enough surgeons,” the programme’s founder, Henry Newland, told IRIN from Adelaide, Australia. The Vision Myanmar Programme started a four-year programme in 2008, primarily funded by AusAID, to provide training for eye surgeons, as well as provide equipment and facility upgrades. In 2005, the programme conducted a population-based blindness survey of over 2,000 people in rural villages in central Myanmar and identified a blindness prevalence rate of 8.1 percent among people over 40, which it said is the highest published rate in the world. And according to 2001 figures published by WHO, Myanmar had a blindness prevalence rate of 0.9 percent of its population, among the highest in the region. Thailand had a blindness prevalence rate of 0.3 percent, while India’s was 0.7 percent.

Avoidable blindness Most of Myanmar’s visually impaired people suffer from avoidable blindness, which can either be treated or prevented. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness, followed by glaucoma, while Vitamin A deficiency causes blindness in children. “Eighty percent of these cases are avoidable by either preventive measures or curative measures, surgery,” said Newland. Hoping to make a living, Myo Myint Oo studied cane weaving for several years. Despite his efforts, the blind 39-year-old has been unable to find anyone to employ him. Unable to feed or shelter himself, Myo Myint Oo is forced to rely on the government-run School for the Blind (Kyimyindine) in Yangon, where he learnt the cane craft. “I want to stand on my own feet … But how can I, when nobody wants to employ a blind person like me?” he said.

Stigmatized Like other disabled groups, blind people in Myanmar are stigmatized as unproductive members of society and find it difficult to live independent lives. “Visually impaired people are still being isolated and excluded from society, “Maung Maung Tar, the principal of the school, told IRIN, adding that there was a need to change attitudes to the affliction. Myanmar has a policy of inclusive education, which means disabled students, including those who are blind, are allowed to attend classes in mainstream schools.

Forward November 2009


what’s news

Myo Myint Oo working on a chair in Yangon. Job prospects are far and few between for the blind in Myanmar.

Massage and cane crafting are common occupations for the blind. Here girls learn the art of massage.

However, there are challenges to implementing the policy, since schools lack the required resources and facilities. “The schools should be equipped with teaching materials in Braille, and teachers who know how to teach the blind by using Braille,” said Thein Lwin, the general secretary of the Myanmar Christian Fellowship of the Blind (MCFB) NGO, which runs two schools for the blind. Despite official policy, mainstream schools are not properly equipped to cater for blind students, meaning that most children are forced to attend specialist schools. However, there are just seven state and NGO-run schools for blind children in the whole country, where over 700 blind and visually impaired students receive a formal or vocational education.

Few options Although a small percentage of blind students strive for as much education as possible, most do not finish high school. “There are almost no job opportunities for blind graduates, which discourages them from pursuing higher formal education,” said Aung Ko Myint, secretary-general of the Myanmar National Association of the Blind (MNAB). “So, most of the blind prefer vocational education to formal education,” he said. In an effort to help the blind find jobs, organizations provide vocational training. But there are commonly just two types of vocational training on offer - cane craft and massage - leaving blind people with few career options, experts complain. “We should create different kinds of vocational courses (for the blind) so they can get more choices,” said the MCFB’s Thein Lwin. - IRIN

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this month 1755 Lisbon Earthquake

1 November 1755

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

10 November 1938

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, took place on 1 November 1755, at around 9:40 in the morning. The earthquake was followed by a tsunami and fires, which caused near-total destruction of Lisbon in the Kingdom of Portugal, and adjoining areas. Geologists today estimate the Lisbon earthquake approached magnitude 9 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 km (120 mi) west-southwest of Cape St. Vincent. Estimates place the death toll in Lisbon alone between 10,000 and 100,000 people, making it one of the most destructive earthquakes in history.

History of Sesame Street

10 November 1969

Sesame Street premiered on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) on November 10, 1969, with a combination of Jim Henson’s Muppets, animation, live shorts and cultural references; responses included adulatory reviews, some controversy, and high ratings. By its 40th anniversary in 2009, even the U.S. government recognized Sesame Street as “the most widely viewed children’s television show in the world”, with twenty independent international versions and broadcasts in over 120 countries. The show’s inception started in 1966 with initial idea by television producer Joan Ganz Cooney to create a children’s television show. The idea arose during discussions with Carnegie Foundation vice president Lloyd Morrisett and other attendees of a dinner party in Manhattan, in which they explored ways to “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them”, such as helping millions of young children prepare for school. After two years of research, the newly-formed Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) received a combined grant of $8 million from Carnegie, the Ford Foundation, and the U.S. federal government to create and produce a new children’s television show.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (indeterminate - 1881–10 November 1938) was a Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman, and founder of the Republic of Turkey as well as its first President. Atatürk became known as an extremely capable military officer during World War I. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, he led the Turkish national movement in the Turkish War of Independence. Having established a provisional government in Ankara, he defeated the forces sent by the Allies. His successful military campaigns led to the liberation of the country and to the establishment of Turkey. During his presidency, Atatürk embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural reforms. An admirer of the Age of Enlightenment, he sought to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, democratic, and secular nation-state. The principles of Atatürk’s reforms, upon which modern Turkey was established, are referred to as Kemalism.

Quotes The inability to open up to hope is what blocks trust, and blocked trust is the reason for blighted dreams.

-Elizabeth Gilbert

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

-Gloria Steinem

There is nothing like a dream to create the future. -Victor Hugo

-Martin Luther King,Jr.

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Forward November 2009


this month World Diabetes Day

14 November World Diabetes Day is the primary global awareness campaign of the diabetes mellitus world and is held on November 14 of each year. It was introduced in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to the alarming rise of diabetes around the world. World Diabetes Day is a campaign that features a new theme chosen by the International Diabetes Federation each year to address issues facing the global diabetes community. While the campaigns last the whole year, the day itself marks the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922. Each year, World Diabetes Day is centred on a theme related to diabetes. Topics covered in the past have included diabetes and human rights, diabetes and lifestyle, diabetes and obesity, and diabetes in the disadvantaged and the vulnerable. In 2007 and 2008, the theme of World Diabetes Day is Diabetes in Children and Adolescents.

Elizabeth I of England

17 November 1558 Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was Queen of England and Queen of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called the Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. The daughter of Henry VIII, she was born a princess, but her mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed two and a half years after her birth, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Her brother, Edward VI, bequeathed the crown to Lady Jane Grey, cutting his sisters out of the succession. His will was set aside, and in 1558 Elizabeth succeeded the Catholic Mary I, during whose reign she had been imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.

SARS

November 2002

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS; pronounced /sɑrz/, sarz) is a respiratory disease in humans which is caused by the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). There has been one near pandemic to date, between the months of November 2002 and July 2003, with 8,096 known infected cases and 774 deaths (a case-fatality rate of 9.6%) worldwide being listed in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 21 April 2004 concluding report. Within a matter of weeks in early 2003, SARS spread from the Guangdong province of China to rapidly infect individuals in some 37 countries around the world.

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letters

On the discontinuation of article by Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller. As-Salamu alaykum, Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to have the rest of the scholar’s article. It seems that the CEO’s decision has a positive effect at least in allowing me to read it in full earlier than I had expected! Masya-Allahu kana!!   Nevertheless, I feel that it is unfortunate that the article, answering very pertinent question in a most articulated way, has to be discontinued. I always feel that Malaysian magazines  are of low quality when they aim to feed the lowly desire of its readers rather than having the lofty aim to educate them to become good human beings. One of the reasons I felt warmed up to FORWARD was when I turned its pages to find the Sheikh’s article featured in the July edition. It is rare to find a religious teacher who could write so well in English, and rarer still that could go deep and enlightening enough to shake your heart and fill your eyes with tears to the brim.  Please, do not deny  Malaysians the opportunity  to read article(s) from the Sheikh.   Was-Salamu alaykum.   Affendi

Assalamualaikum, Dear Forward Team, I always enjoyed reading Forward because of its unique take on contemporary issues. On top of that, the magazine always included the important niche of “Spirituality” that has been much forgotten in this world. And the blend of those two provided the complex dimension of what it really means to be a Muslim today. It is a pity that the column for “Spirituality” has been empty as of late and I was wondering if its revival is in the pipelines. It would be great to have that extra reminder and depth in such a publication as it does reach out beyond the normal bland dimensions that other publications do. Nevertheless, I am sure many readers will continue to support Forward and its endeavours. But “spirituality” is the icing on the cake for keen readership and loyalty depth. A reader from Bangi

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Forward November 2009


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other dimension by Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar photo by MMP Photo Unit

D

espite the advancement and progress in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), increasing number of working population continue to be on the move over longer distances than ever. So are the movements of goods and services by air, over land, and by water (in canals, rivers, lakes), and along numerous sealanes. No amount of investment in infrastructure for transportation and logistics has been able to cope with the pressing demand of growing population for fast and efficient means of commuting and moving their goods and services.

PROPOSED RESPONSE

Connectivity for mobility TOWARDS sustainability 16

The key to such an issue would be an additional investment not so much in widening more roads and highways, but in improving “connectivity” as in alleviating bottle-necks at busy road-junctions and improving public transport toward integrated multi-modal transport system for sustainable mobility. Sustainability at its best can be simply defined as much from personal level to the highest level of economic policy making as “using one’s income, not abusing capital, for one’s daily expense.” For any development to be sustainable one has to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs; the definition, first introduced by the Bruntland Commision, has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development. The concept of sustainable development essentially hinges on three pillars: socioenvironmentally acceptable, enviro-economically viable, and socio-economically equitable.

ENVIRONMENTAL COCERNS The transport sector, being the largest consumer of energy and, thus, the fossil fuel, continues to pollute not only the air but also accounts for most of the emission of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming and climate change. The main sources of energy supply are crude oil and petroleum products as well as natural gas.

Forward November 2009


START YOUR DAY WITH FORWARD e-MAGAZINE... Forward Magazine featuring articles on current affairs, economics, culture, life and technology - all written without fear or favour.

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Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed as by writing. If any do desire a reward in this life, We shall give it to him; and if any do desire a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give it to him. And swiftly shall We reward those that (serve us with) gratitude. (Verse 145, Surah Aali-Imran, Al-Quran)




musings

ENTERING THE HOLY OF HOLIES

T

he Hebrew version of what Nabi Musa a.s. did with the stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments that he brought back from the mountain in Sinai, was that these tablets were housed in a special sort of carriage, called the “Ark of the Covenant”. This Ark was very carefully guarded and later deposited in the central vault of the temple of Nabi Sulaiman a.s. (known in Jerusalem as “Solomon’s Temple”). Solomon’s Temple was then destroyed by pagans, then rebuilt and destroyed again, after which the Ark was lost to history. Even written on stone by Allah Most High, the Divine Law was destined to be destroyed by the minions of the devil who held power in the world of those days. The vault in which the Ark was stored was called the “Holy of Holies” and was accessible only by the temple priests. Until today, the phrase “Holy of Holies” is used in English to describe any holy place or experience accessible only to certain people, depending on the Mercy of Allah Most High. Lailatul Qadar at the end of Ramadan would be one such experience. In Islam, these stone tablets have therefore been replaced by al-Qur’an, which is promised to be protected forever by Allah Most High. So our equivalent of the “Holy of Holies”, in addition to the Lailatul Qadar, would be the experience of being moved to tears by this Qur’an, whether recited during Ramadan, or any other time, by those whose duty is to protect and transmit our oral tradition from generation to generation (the Imams of Makkah and Medina, among others). It has recently occurred to me that the Qur’anic recitation from cover-to-cover each Ramadan in Makkah is equivalent to the vault in Solomon’s Temple, in which Nabi Musa’s “Ark of the Covenant” used to rest before the two stone tablets were destroyed by conquering pagans. And perhaps it is no accident that Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, on which Masjid al-Aqsa and the Golden Dome are now famously located, is the very same site that the Ten Commandment Tablets were last known to rest on earth, the former site of Solomon’s Temple. Here is how this concept came to me. There was a certain Imam from al-Azhar University in Cairo who visited Malaysia during this past Ramadan. One evening, after following his Tarawih prayers in the short-form usually used for modern people who are too busy to listen to an entire “juz”,

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START YOUR DAY WITH FORWARD e-MAGAZINE... Forward Magazine featuring articles on current affairs, economics, culture, life and technology - all written without fear or favour.

Try Forward e-Magazine TODAY! Start your 6-month subscription for only RM16

www.forwardmagazine.com.my

Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed as by writing. If any do desire a reward in this life, We shall give it to him; and if any do desire a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give it to him. And swiftly shall We reward those that (serve us with) gratitude. (Verse 145, Surah Aali-Imran, Al-Quran)




cover story

The Dying Birth Rate – and its Abstract Debate

by Maria Zain

P

rofessor Jariah Masud from Universiti Putra Malaysia, in an interview with the New Straits Times, has found a causal link between the recently discovered low birth rate and the attitudes of men. The national birth rate has dropped from 6.2 children per household to a mere 2.2 within a generation. Through a research study, Professor Jariah says men are to be blamed for this sharp decline. Apparently women are still interested in having more children, but lack the physical support of men. Some may be humoured by this allegation, since men were also blamed when households were full of the pleasant pitter-patter of little feet, grubby mouths and crayoned walls. Men were also to be blamed (not too long ago) for having their wives shackled to the kitchen, disallowed from working and virtually had no money of their own. So, it only makes sense to continue blaming that gender that is known to oppress the other. Of course Professor Jariah’s statements are supported by statistics found by a research, thus has credibility. At the same time however, research papers are known to be skewed, and fraught with limitations. Every researcher can only choose a sample population, normally one that is far smaller than the whole population as a representation of his or her research.

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On top of that, there are other limitations, such as financial and geographical limitations and poor response rates. So it is really impossible to line up the good guys on one side and the bad guys on the other when it comes to issues as abstract as birth rate. After all, even if the 14 million male population of the country were found to have low sperm counts or something that shared such nature, it is still impossible to just blame men.

What a Woman Wants, What a Woman Needs When the birth rate in the US fell to its lowest statistically in 2002, research found that women who were generally in the child-bearing age, preferred to concentrate on their career rather than have ‘more children.’ That does not sound like anything new. However, the trend changed passed the age of 35, when women felt ready to settle down and have their attention diverted from work. In fact, children born to women between 35 to 45 years of age were on a steady increase, rather than the opposite. It nearly sounds like women are to be blamed for a decline in birth rates. They are the ones who actually give birth. In Malaysia, nearly 51% of the workforce is dominated by women. Women also hold high posts within corporations, both in the public

Forward November 2009


START YOUR DAY WITH FORWARD e-MAGAZINE... Forward Magazine featuring articles on current affairs, economics, culture, life and technology - all written without fear or favour.

Try Forward e-Magazine TODAY! Start your 6-month subscription for only RM16

www.forwardmagazine.com.my

Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed as by writing. If any do desire a reward in this life, We shall give it to him; and if any do desire a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give it to him. And swiftly shall We reward those that (serve us with) gratitude. (Verse 145, Surah Aali-Imran, Al-Quran)




The Earthquake That Was

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Forward November 2009


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features

The Matter Of

THE GOLD DINAR

Syariah Perspectives (Part 1)

by Hajjah Nik Mahani Binti Mohamad FCCA (UK)

G

erald Celente, the CEO of Trends Research Institute, the most highly respected trend forecaster in the United States, has been sounding the alarm over what’s to come in the next few years. Celente told Fox News that, “by 2012 America will become an undeveloped nation, that there will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts and job marches, and that holidays will be more about obtaining food, not gifts.” He stated that this will be “worse than the great depression.” In another interview, Celente stated that, “There will be a revolution in this country,” and, “It’s not going to come yet, but it’s going to come down the line and we’re going to see a third party and this was the catalyst for it: the takeover of Washington, D. C., in broad daylight by Wall Street in this bloodless coup. And it will happen as conditions continue to worsen.” Against this scenario and what is to come in the near future, is that people of the world will need a real solution to future economic stability and everyone is looking to gold as the remedy. The matter of the gold Dinar from a Muslim perspective means more than a monetary issue. The real Islamic Muamalah Syariah (as opposed to the rhetoric understanding expounded by pseudo-Syariah muamalah claimed by Islamic Banking fraternity that is!) unveils the very principle of freedom of choice or ‘mutual consent’ (redha) between two parties in their choice of medium of exchange.

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This very principle of freedom to choose and freedom to enter into a contract of sale, mutual offer and acceptance and freedom to choose whichever form of exchange, is the core basis of our muamalah. In our Syariah, as opposed to the present Capitalist ideology - not only that people MUST be given the FREEDOM to CHOOSE whichever form of exchange they both mutually agreed upon; but that even the State or Authority must never IMPOSE unto their citizen, a certain national monetary unit. This is by the way termed as the issue of legal tender slated in the articles of the Central Banks all over the world today. This is the standing of our muamalah. The laws of the legal tender imposed by the Central Bankers all over the world including Malaysia is not binding legally in the sense that the seller in a buy and sell transaction under the strict laws of legal tender MUST accept the Ringgit when offered by the buyer; yet the seller still has the choice of accepting other than Ringgit IF offered by the buyer! In this scenario, while legal tender laws applied only unto the seller of goods and merchandise; there are no enforcement of any legal laws that can deter the buyer from offering other than Ringgit, like gold Dinar and silver Dirham for the transaction! This is the leeway that all the people of the world can hope to bring back in the use of gold Dinar and silver Dirham in this country. It is the people’s willpower that can bring about the use of the gold Dinar and silver Dirham again into circulation.

Forward November 2009


START YOUR DAY WITH FORWARD e-MAGAZINE... Forward Magazine featuring articles on current affairs, economics, culture, life and technology - all written without fear or favour.

Try Forward e-Magazine TODAY! Start your 6-month subscription for only RM16

www.forwardmagazine.com.my

Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed as by writing. If any do desire a reward in this life, We shall give it to him; and if any do desire a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give it to him. And swiftly shall We reward those that (serve us with) gratitude. (Verse 145, Surah Aali-Imran, Al-Quran)




features

A life changing experience by Shahfizal Musa

I

was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. Soon after a series of coincidences I found myself on a flight to Madinah, Saudi Arabia, to perform my Umrah during Ramadan. I was on my way to the holiest city in the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. Since this is my second visit, I did not think much of it. In my mind I was just a chaperone to my pious wife and fulfilling the duties entrusted to me by others; to pray for their well being. This assumption is because I did not think I am worthy to be in the holy city, I have done nothing substantial to deserve such an honour. Little that I know it was going to be the experience that change the way I look at life and led me to find eternal bliss. This is an account of how the experience answered the question that people have been asking for centuries.

Life in the Holy city Imagine that it is Monday morning in Kuala Lumpur and everybody is trying to get to work, cars overtaking each other so they arrived at the office on time to earn a living. They are trapped in traffic congestion that piles up the stress level. You can see the same situation in Mecca during Ramadan.

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The only difference is instead of going to butter their employer so they will get a bone at the end of the month; in Mecca crowds of people are overtaking each other trying to get the best seat in Masjidil Haram, as near as possible to the Kaabah, the house of Allah Most High. This happens five times a day, despite having to fast. They still wade through each other under the scorching heat to worship their Creator. This must be the only place in the world where worshipping the Creator is put as the utmost important. When the call of prayer is heard, they drop everything and even cars would stop and drivers and passengers pray by the road side. Performing Umrah in Ramadan is something which every knowledgeable Muslim desire and I am not in that category. I was not aware of the importance placed on performing Umrah during Ramadan. I only realised it when I talked to some of the pilgrims. They came from Pakistan travelling by land because they have no money to buy air plane ticket. They just want to be in the holy land in Ramadan because of the blessings attached to this short period where Muslim had to fast from dawn to dusk. These pilgrims who travel by land do not have accommodation waiting for them so they sleep in the compound of the mosque. When asked why they go through all that trouble, one of them said “Its Forward November 2009


START YOUR DAY WITH FORWARD e-MAGAZINE... Forward Magazine featuring articles on current affairs, economics, culture, life and technology - all written without fear or favour.

Try Forward e-Magazine TODAY! Start your 6-month subscription for only RM16

www.forwardmagazine.com.my

Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed as by writing. If any do desire a reward in this life, We shall give it to him; and if any do desire a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give it to him. And swiftly shall We reward those that (serve us with) gratitude. (Verse 145, Surah Aali-Imran, Al-Quran)




Compiled by Dalila Kamarudin

ACER Aspire One 751 The Aspire One 751 not only comes with a shiny lid available in four separate colors (black, white, red and blue), the smooth slick surface stretches on to the bezel surrounding the reflective display, and even on both sides of the notebook. Although the LED backlit display measures at only 11.6”, it seems to look bigger than my 12” display because of the high resolution it supports, making it a very ideal entertainment notebook. Weighing at 1.35kg, the Aspire One isn’t exactly the lightest of its kind available, but it is not totally unbearable .

WESTERN DIGITAL New My Book And My Passport Devices. Western Digital’s latest versions of these portable hard drives not only come in whopping capacities (anywhere from 320GB to 2TB) and slick enclosures, but are also available in a variety of colors to suit your liking. Since security has also been a rather big issue of late, Western Digital has included their very own hardware-based encryption solution called WD SmartWare with every My Passport and My Book. The My Book and My Passport devices are available in either Windows or Mac formats (Mac format is TimeMachine compatible out-of-box) and come with a 3-year limited warranty.

NEW LOGITECH OMNI-DIRECTION SPEAKERS Logitech might have the right solution for you with their new Logitech Z523 and Z323. Made possible by their bi-directional speaker drivers, both speaker models have a 360-degree sound capability which would provide better sound transmission and a bigger acoustic sweet spot. That means these speakers are able to project (almost) perfect sounds wherever you are in your room.

New BEN Q MP776ST and MP772ST Projector

BEN Q Eco LED Full HD

The MP776ST and MP772ST projector both feature super short throw technology, are 3D stereoscopic ready, and are Crestron RoomView LAN compliant which means that they can be controlled via LAN. The MP776ST and the MP772ST retail for RM5999 and RM4599 respectively.

Running at a native resolution of 1366 x 768, the G-series LED monitor features an Eco mode that will consume 30% less power without making any compromise on the visuals. Made from recycled plastics and conforming to the highest standards set by EPEAT and PC3R. The 24” V2400 Eco LED Full HD and the 21.5” V2200 Eco LED Full HD new by BEN Q will retail for RM699 and RM959 respectively.

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And that’s a good reason to pick up Milenia Muslim, a progressive Islamic-inclined monthly news magazine. With a wide spectrum of mind-engaging-topics, you will be rest assured that Milenia Muslim will enlighten you.

KEEP ON READING

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Sophisticated Intelligent Woman

Reading companion from Muslimah, for dynamic Muslimah. Aniqah is a comprehensive magazine for dynamic and knowledge-driven Muslimah. With fresh insights to many challenges facing Muslimah today. Covering latest issues on Parenting, Home and Family, Personal Growth and Career, Education, Social and Lifestyle. The magazine is also your guiding companion. Make a difference and get your copy at major newsstand today.

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68 B, Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur Tel : +603-2273 5421 / 24 / 26 / 27 Fax: +603-2273 5425 Forward November 2009 www.mmpcommunications.com


photo essay photo by Wan Naqiuddin

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

-Walt Disney

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food

The rich taste of ketupat and all by Fariza Uzmat

O

ther than sweet memories of meeting family, relatives and friends during Eidul Fitri that fell on 20th September this year, most Malaysian Muslims surely had their own special recollection of nostalgic traditional dishes. Without them, Eid celebration seems incomplete and less merry. Like the proverbial saying ‘tak lekang dek panas, tak lapuk dek hujan’ (something that remains infinite), traditional dishes such as ketupat, lemang, dodol, kuih karas, kuih loyang, kuih sepit, rempeyek, to name a few, were too much to miss out this festive season. The rich taste, colour and flavour of the dishes are the product of the past generations who were skilful and tactful in preparing food. They were much anticipated and exclusively made available only during festive celebration unlike today. The country’s preserver of heritage, culture and history -National

Museum took opportunity of Eidul Fitri to show off the traditional way of making Eid dishes in the past which is hardly adhered by new generation of today.

Ketupat and lemang Ketupat is a must have dish on the table during Eid. Without ketupat, other dishes such as peanut gravy, serunding (chicken, beef or fish floss) and rendang (dry beef curry) are useless since it must be eaten together with ketupat which come in two types – ketupat daun kelapa and ketupat palas. Ketupat daun kelapa is made of rice skilfully wrapped in coconut leaf. Alternately, pitcher plant can be used, purposely to get its good smell when boiled in the pot. This is very popular especially in the central to the southern part of Peninsular Malaysia. In the south, it is savoured with kuah lemak which they call kuah lodeh (yellow gravy made of vegetables and coconut milk).

Top: Ketupat daun kelapa Bottom: Ketupat daun palas

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Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed as by writing. If any do desire a reward in this life, We shall give it to him; and if any do desire a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give it to him. And swiftly shall We reward those that (serve us with) gratitude. (Verse 145, Surah Aali-Imran, Al-Quran)




The Prophet said, “On the Day of Resurrection Allah will hold the whole earth and fold the heaven with His right hand and say, ‘I am the King: where are the kings of the earth?’” (Abu Huraira)

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