Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why is clockwise clockwise and the tawaf counter-clockwise?

Taken by Arif on 4th March 2013
I was asked these questions by a PhD mathematic student (from Pakistan) when I was a first year engineering student at Monash in 1982.
Why is clockwise clockwise and not counter clockwise? Why do we circumambulate the Kaabah in a seemingly counter-clockwise fashion? Or if I were to use his words, anti clockwise manner.
I guess he must have been a tutor with the mathematics department and most likely I was in a math workshop or something.
Perhaps not. The muslim community was not too big a community at Monash, so we tend to know each other, especially if one were to frequent the Religious Centre for your daily solah. It is a convenient place for us to do our duty and perhaps meet friends for a break there. It is convenient as it is just next to the Student Union.
But I digress.
So why clockwise is clockwise and NOT anti-clockwise? Who 'invented' the clock or watch as we knew it today? Who decided the convention of clockwise and counter-clockwise?
In other words, someone could have decided then that clockwise is anti-clockwise and anti-clockwise is clockwise, if you know what I mean. The answer to that question is simply not because that's the way it is!
Actually I have been looking for a watch that would do just that, but to no avail. I have tried finding them everywhere, except the internet of course. That may be the reason why I did not find them in the past twenty years.

My dream watch - so that it follows the tawaf convention
Some may quote the Summerians, The Babylonians and what not as having their religious rituals in clockwise fashion. They seems to notice that the shadow of their ownself moves from left too right, and it seems that way too for the sun-dials. This article even argues that since most of our civilization is Northern-based, if one were to track the sun's movement, it would be clockwise.
As this article rightly question on the reasons on why the muslims would circummabulate the Kaabah seven times in the counter clockwise position, and why people lost in the wilderness tend to drift to the left and why baseball runners and racers tend to travel in the counter-clockwise manner.
A theory has been advanced by R.G. Haliburton in his Festival of the Dead, (1863) that the Semites---a people speaking similar languages, from which both Jews and Muslims descend---originated in Africa, south of the Equator, and therefore their "sunwise" direction is counter-clockwise.The circumambulation of the Sacred Rock in Jerusalem, however, is clockwise.
I disagreed with Haliburton as in the end, the circummabulation of the Sacred Rock in Jerusalem is clockwise.
That is what this friend of mine was trying to tell me thirty years ago. He rests his case.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Zahid Hamidi, the most popular Malaysian Minister in INdonesia right now?

Apparently at this moment, he is.

I managed to catch glimpses of him on TVOne (if I am not mistaken) yesterday (Wednesday 210 March 13) talking about the what the Indonesians referred to as "Konflik Sabah".

In general, I was not too pleased with his performance. I thought at times he was edgy and may be a bit emotional when answering to the female host, and I would have preferred him to be a bit more composed.

May be cool and composed.

"This is NOT a conflict. IT is an intrusion. IF anyone were to come to Indonesia and claim part of Indonesia as their own, would you call it a conflict or INTRUSION?"" he asked the host.

Ya, intrusion, came the positive reply from the host.

He was berating to the host in an apparent displeasure since the Indonesian media are referring to the situation in Sabah as Sabah Conflict. OK, fair enough I guess, but he could be more tackful but at the same time forceful.

To me it appeared that he was agitated

The female host was not in hard-hitting mode. She was simply asking questions; questions that many Malaysians would be asking of our own government. She let him off easily. She was too sweet to be a hard hitting anchor.

"Why claim now? What's the point of the referendum in 1963? They are only claiming it now because in the both countries, we are in election mode. There is a mid-term election in the Philippines and Malaysia is having one too. There are groups in both countries that would want to embarrass the two governments," so claimed Zahid.

He did not elaborate these two groups. I am sure he could not back up his own claim.

I don't know what he was doing in Indonesia, and how did he appeared to telly at around 11 am in the morning. I am not even sure if it was live or was recorded earlier. I am not sure, and I was not really interested to know.

Fast forward to 8 pm on the same day at Lumire Hotel in Senen at the end of my discussion with a potential partner.

"Hey, do you know that the Malaysian Minister of Defense is a Javanese? Apparently his mother is one, and he even spoke Javanese on telly this morning," he excitedly told me.
I shaked my head, telling him that I did not know that, but noted that in Bagan Dato', his constituency, there are many Javanese.
"Just imagine, a Javanese holding the important post of Minister of Defence of Malaysia," he further exclaimed.
I am sure there is no implication to that statement.

"Khir Toyo is also a Javanese, right?" someone I knew for more than a decade asked. "That's to obvious," I replied.

But I am sure they would all want to dissociate themselves from him if they knew the real and infamous Khir Toyo.
But noting from his excited voice about Zahid Hamidi, I was more amused than worried. I told him non-chalantly that Najib and his father Razak are Bugis from Sulawesi. But how did we go so wrong in our relationship with our big brother neighbour?
What I did not tell him is that technically I am a Minang from Bukittinggi.
May be I shall reveal that later, and get him to sign on the dotted line?


"So what were you doing in Jakarta?" the immigration officer at Sukarno-Hatta was asking as my exit question.

"Öh santai-santai sama teman-teman," I said truthfully. Ï have had dinner and tea with friends I knew for more than 19 years now and another for may be 16 years respectively.

"Ini, saya bawa balik 2 paket emping belinjo," I showed him my carry-on bag.

He was amused.

Sensing that he was chatty, and can take jokes with visitors like me, I told him that all my friends in Jakarta were lamenting that I did not bring them bawang. May be I should have. I could have easily carried 15 kg of bawang merah and bawang putih,

Apparently they are in short supply and it would cost at least Rp100,000 for a kg of the real namesake of the two step sisters.

I could have paid for my trip down south from the profit of selling the shallots.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Forget the Musang King, Let's plant the Ajwa

Dates for sales at the farm in Madinah. The black ones are the Ajwa.
Taken on Feb 26th, 2013
I am amused after reading Dr MAZA's latest entry at his website.
Personally, I found his writing insightful. It is simple to understand, and he did not attempt to confuse us with big words, and his line of thinking is rational.
I don't normally have to read it twice to understand, but I normally read them twice anyway.
To ensure that I have his pertinent points in my mind.
Having just came back from the holy land, with all the dates are still fresh in my mind, especially after having visited the dates farm and then onto the dates market in Madinah. Obviously for us Malaysians, if you went to the holy cities, it would not be complete with bringing back some (dried) dates as gifts to go with the zam-zam water.
It makes nice gifts.
Never mind if you didn't buy them abaya or sajadah (prayer mat).
Dates and zam-zam water would be sufficient.
Obviously I am told to buy Ajwa, supposedly the prophet's dates. Supposedly he loves it so much that that there are sayings (credited to him) about the virtues of dates in general, and Ajwa in particular. You'll find the virtues being told over and over again, especially during Ramadhan.
But at the dates farms and market, I was appalled by the price. Generally, on average one would pay about SR20-30 per kg of normal dates. But one would pay anything from SR100-150 per kg for the Ajwa.
That's a whopping RM130 per kg. And dried ones at that.
All because our prophet was supposed to have uttered those words praising the Ajwa dates.
That's nearly 5x as expensive as the King of fruits - the Musang King!
I mean RM20 is already expensive if one were to buy Durians and even the best of Mangoes, or any fruit for that matter. Let's not even talk about dokongs and rambutans; at this stage they seems like worthless.
But to pay more than RM100 for a kg of dates, I thought that we were going overboard. We want quick pahala and benefits; just by eating the kurma, and we are all supposed to go to heaven, I guess.
So I was amused to read Dr Asri's article when he retorted to the date sellers advocating him to buy the Ajwa by telling him (the sellers) that "there are no more prophet's dates. They were finished by him during his time. These are your dates, not the prophet's."
I quote,
Apabila jenama ‘Islam’ itu laris, ramai orang menggunakannya. Samada mereka itu ikhlas kerana Allah, ataupun kerana ‘market demand’ hanya Allah sahaja Yang Maha Mengetahui. Bermula dari pelbagai produk makanan dan barangan cuba dikaitkan dengan agama sehingga kepada pelbagai jenis motivasi. Akhirnya, agama kelihatan murah dan selekeh.
Ubat-ubatan yang entah apa-apa kualitinya dikaitkan kononnya makanan Nabi s.a.w. Sama seperti sesetengah para penjual tamar di Mekah dan Madinah yang apabila melihat orang asing akan berteriak memanggil pembeli dengan menyebut “Tamar Nabi! Tamar Nabi! Tamar Nabi!” Saya sering menjawab mereka dengan berkata: Tamar Nabi s.a.w baginda sudah pun makan dan habis pada zaman tersebut. Ini tamar awak punya, bukan Nabi s.a.w punya!
Malangnya, orang-orang yang tidak tahu akan tertipu lalu membeli tamar dengan harga berlipat kali ganda hanya disebabkan laungan ‘tamar Nabi s.a.w’. Agama sering menjadi alat penipuan dan kepentingan golongan yang pandai mengeksplotasikannya
End of Quote
You can read the full version here - Apabila Ceramah Motivasi Mula Merepek.
Thank you Dr MAZA. You have restored my faith. I am not sure I am a fan of the Ajwa; I thought that there are many other better tasting dates. In fact during Ramadhan, I prefer the dates from China to be honest. To me, it is a matter of preference.

I am all for loving our prophets, but to equate his food preference to deeds, aah, well...May be our kambing sellers would be promoting some types of kambings and make kambings our daily dishes.

I am ok for that as I love kambing. But many others who could not stand the smell or simply the meat would cringe.
Thinking back, may be we should be planting the Ajwa here in Malaysia?

And let's not bother with Musang King, shall we?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The March Rambling - Are we so incompetent?

I am extremly bored with the Malaysian political scene.
And I am tired of waiting for the election.
Macam menunggu kucing bertandok. Don't we have other things to do too, beyond waiting for general election?
Honestly, I am taking this government to task for failure to hold the election after 5 years. I don't really care about the technicalities. As far as I am concerned, we last held it on March 8, 2008 and it is overdue and this government is clinging on to power and does not seem to want to relinguish it.
To me, illegally. (As I have said, I don't care about the technicalities. Your five years is up. Let the people decide if you deserve another five years.)
I am not even sure if they will relinguish the power when the parliment dissolves automatically. Supposedly on April 28.
Never before in the country history we have a government resorting to this.
And the daily campaigning by them on telly. It is the speech by the PM, then the PM and then you have all kinds of advertorials, telling up in not so subtle way to ensure the current government stays in power.

It is yawning.
The government should be held responsible for the Sabah debacle. How did the intruders enter Sabah so easily and without the police or army knowing about it at all? In fact, without resistance at all. Did the police and army intelligence fail the nation? I think they did and I would like to call for the top brass of both forces to admit mistake and take responsibility for this failure. I'd call on the Home Minister to resign too over this. It is an honourable way to go, Hishamuddin. He must have been sleeping on his job. So did the police and army chiefs.
Why only now the government is thinking of setting the many police stations proposed a few days earlier? Why only now we are setting up the East Sabah Command Centre? After 50 years of independence?
It is one thing that 200 armed men were able to enter the country without even our authorities knowing it? But to be able to escape our cordon when the whole might of our military and police are in that area is another.
Are we so incompetent? It is pathetic.
I believe that this debacle is closely linked to the rampant give-away of citizenship and IC to immigrants in Sabah. Whoever set this IC for vote schemes, they are the traitors to the nation, and should be treated accordingly.
They are selling the nation to foreigners.
Memang panas hati bila difikirkan. Menyakitkan hati. Our politicians have no morality.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

The RM8 breakfast at Pasar Tani

The pasar tani at UPM is quite a relaxing place.
The parking is ample; proper parking is readily available and one need not have to resort to double parking or parking by the roadside. In fact, one need not park a km away.
This is only my second time here. I am here to purchase more trees for the orchard in Langat. Talking to Adziz, within 10 minutes, I completed my purchase of Durian Duri Hitam and some other fruit trees including Putat. Just want to increase the varieties of trees in the orchard, that's all.

Upon completion,Akmal and I decided to have our breakfast at the Pasar Tani. There are ample of foods - quite a variety too, I must say. Anything to tickle one's fancy. I am sure one can find something that you like.
So I tried Nasi Minyak - a Terengganu breakfast one cannot easily find in Kuala Lumpur. Nasi dagang and nasik kerabu; they are easy to find in KL, but not nasik minyak. Whenever I have a craving for one, I would try to get an appointment in Kerteh at 10 am, so that I can have my breakfast there before the meeting.
Nasik minyak of  ourse.
But this morning I paid RM8 for a nasik minyak kambing. The food is good - no complain there I guess. But paying RM8 for breakfast is a bit too much I think. Not my style, but then again, I don't have breakfast here every week.
"Dik, bagi saya tisu," I asked the stall owner after paying him.
"Tak da tisu," he replied.
I did not say anything, but left.
I went to another stall and asked for two teh tarik. "RM3.20, satu RM1.60,"so I was told.
I paid my drinks, sighing.
But I am left wondering.
How much is teh tarik at my favourite restoran? RM1? RM1.20? RM1.50 at the most. But here in pasar Tani, supposedly all produce here are direct from farmers, so supposedly there are cheaper.
And the farmers are supposed to earn more profit without the middle men.
Jolly good.
Buying a RM8 breakfast, and one did not even get any tissue, and paying inflated teh tarik  at pasar tani, I am sure it is not worth it. Here is a place dominated by Malay sellers and frequented by Malays.
And a place for Melayu to ketok orang Melayu.
Don't you think so?

My RM1.60 teh tarik. By this time, my RM8 breakfast
is long gone! Hahaha