Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Reduction of Faith to define 'Underclass'

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim mentioned in the news recently about the emergence of underclass Malay/Muslim group from the main community, citing "This is not Malay culture, this is a subculture". (CNA,04 January 2010, Analysis: National approach needed for underclass issue).

The question is: Is it true that the emergence of such underclass from the mainstream community a recent introduction, or a cause of accrual exploitation of the media, or is it a cause factor of the social paradigm shift in a post modern era?

During the CLF/TMSN meeting with various Malay Muslim undergraduates recently, many of us argued and brought across factors after factors that maybe the social indicators to redefine the terminology 'underclass' in our context. However, much to my dismay, few would bring across a much simpler tool to find the pin among the hay.

There were many factors most sociologists would use to redefine such a heavy term as 'underclass'. Some say it is the result of the lack of the social, cultural and economical capital of the self. Others used the term 'pathological demoralization' of the mind, or also known as the 'last mile barrier'- the psychological resistance that puts in an absence of any effect if given empowerment, resources, capitals, benefits etc. Some might be given as much as a thousand dollars, but still fail to bring itself out of the problem due to internal resistance to all forms of given welfare.

Some also might argue that 'underclass' can be seen as an Alternative Value System. It is whereby the mind chooses its state of comfort, in a way that even success might be seen as 'drinking a dozen of Heineken bottles at one go' as compared to earning large sums of money. The yardstick of success is hence viewed differently.

In addition, some introduced the 'deconstruction of empowerment'' whereby the environment, social pressures and fast-paced modernization left them socially immobile- unable to keep up with the upper segment of the society, they tend to accept their fate and not having the determination to achieve. Others say they lack help from the MMOs (Malay Muslim Organisations) due to certain policy fine prints and the lack of information with regards to social welfare.

However, in my opinion, it is a mere loss of adab in the society. Referring to the transcripts of Prof Syed Naquib Al-Attas, "I said of that it is the loss of adab. Adab is a reflection of wisdom, because this comes from the knowledge of the Prophets. It is not something that you receive from universities or even from knowledge. Because sometimes people have knowledge but no adab. Adab, the way i understood it, it is acting in conformity with justice. Justice is THE final virtue, justice is the culmination of all virtues."

He further elaborated:

As said in the Qur'an:

"Verily Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those whom they are due (amanah); and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice..."

(Surah An-Nisa': 58)

There are 4 terms in this verse that is important.

1) That the verse is a command ('amr). And when you talk about command you talk about law. Law can only take place when people realise the commands and prohibitions and submit to it.

2) The people of authority are not leaders in legitimate power, but people that are mentioned in the Qur'an as Ulul 'Ilm (those with knowledge), Ulul Absar (those with vision), Ulul Albab (those who are in thinking). This can also mean just governments too.

3) Wisdom, which is the knowledge that tells you of the proper places of everything. Those who are given wisdom include the Prophets and the philosophers. Unfortunately some of the philosophers do not realize that wisdom comes from Allah s.w.t, thinking that wisdom comes from their own minds.

Everything has its own proper place. Things are established in its proper places in accordance to haqq which is reality and truth. Wisdom is therefore the methods of how to deal with these things, to put them into their proper places.

4) Adab is conformity with the knowledge of the proper places of things. And when this is carried out, the condition that results from this is justice. Therefore justice is the condition in which things are in their proper places.

It is in such truth that I must mentioned that the loss of adab of our society itself has degraded our society from the light of Allah SWT. It is the reduction of faith, clearly seen in the meeting, that I would boldly comment that the term 'underclass' can also mean:

"People who has experience a loss of adab in conformity with the knowledge of the proper places of things, in which the reduction of faith, the disenchantment of nature and the lack of knowledge with wisdom in dealing with issues creates a stagnant, or perhaps, a dedevelopmentation of social excellance."

Sadly, it also means it includes me, and the many people who deemed themselves as intellects, for they show 'tendencies to reduce faith and spiritual aspects' in our efforts to study this issue.

The community must realise that the Malay community is built upon the transcended revelation of Islam. Stretching from the historical revivalism of the Islamisation of the Malay Archipelago from Hinduism and animalism, and the integration of Arabic language in Malay Language (as seen from words dunia, akhirat, ruh, doa, taqwa etc); it is steadfast, deep rooted, firm and strong, in our Malay culture and language. Thus, Islam is the way of life of the Malay World. It remains as our worldview.

In the Quran, I believe many would find verses that shows how Allah SWT torture those who do mungkar (bad actions) and rewards those who do makruf (good actions). It is perhaps, in this 'amar makruf, nahi mungkar' that could be included in the redefinition of the underclass. Hence, according to Islam, it is simply, 'those who do bad deeds, and do not do good deeds' (amar mungkar, nahi makruf).

Do we include spiritual perspectives to solve this issue, or do we use spiritual aspects as our magnum opus in our spectacle to study the issue, or we simply shrug the 'religious connotations' to do favours to the sociological aspects of research? Or we simply dwell in the pool of secularism and act as though we are Gods- in control of our own actions and thoughts?

I shall end this note with a quote from Rene Descartes, French Philosopher- "Cogito Ergo Sum" or ‘I think therefore I am’.

Wallahualam bisawwab.

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