Sunday, May 27, 2007


I'm currently working on my LING312 major assignment.

Among the books I loaned from the library is: "Pidgins, Creoles and Lingua Francas - A sociolinguistic study" by Max K. Adler.

It is an inconspicuous-looking book; thin, colourless and outdated (1977)

but it has verses from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Quran in its preface.

All the verses had something to do with linguistics.

The verses from Quran are taken from Surah Ar-Rahman, Verse 1-4:

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
It is the Merciful who has taught the Quran. He created man and taught him articulate speech.

The verses in Arabic are very familiar to me but I never think deeply about their meaning and how related they are to the field I'm currently studying.

I always bemoan how much I hate linguistics but these four verses may have just changed my mind.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Islam in Australia

I was very apprehensive when I first caught glimpse of Herald’s last Saturday front-page feature. ‘Islam in Australia’ was the title. After last week’s dodgy piece on the so-called “Super-Max Jihadists”, I was starting to think that Herald is as bad (and biased) as the Daily Telegraph when it comes to portraying Islam and Muslims.

Thus I was pleasantly surprised when I read the introduction:

“Six months ago, the Herald set out to discover the face of Muslim Australia. Where do Muslim hail from, where do they live, what are their hopes, fears and frustrations? Our reporters met Muslims, earned their trusts and sought to transcend stereotypes. Today we launch a series exploring the diversity of Islamic life and opinion in Australia and opening a dialogue about what it means to be both Muslim and Australian”

I must say that the report was very good. It shows Islam as a beautiful, peaceful religion. And it also sought to correct the mass public misconceptions about Islam. A very commendable effort indeed.

Though I’m not an Australian, I can certainly relate to a lot of the issues raised in the report. Such issues include:

  • The ‘us’ versus ‘them’ attitude held by some Muslims and non-Muslims
  • The feeling of alienation by society
  • Being “forced” to apologise for the actions of other Muslims
  • The challenges of finding a place to pray
  • The conscious effort to be a better Muslim resulting from all these pressures

Back in Malaysia, you don’t face any of these issues. Islam is the religion of the majority of the population. So, finding a place to pray was never a problem. There’s bound to be a surau or a masjid anywhere you go. And you don’t get sideway glances or second looks just because you wear a hijab. And there’s no Daily-Telegraph-yang-jahat equivalent there.

When I first arrived in Australia, it took some time for me to get accustomed to being strongly identified as a Muslim. It was hard dealing with people’s curiosity, ignorance and sometimes even hostility. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I’ve come to know more about my own faith. And consequently that made me strive to become a better Muslim.

I hope the report is able to mend a lot of people’s misconceptions about Islam. Islam did not blow the twin towers. Islam does not breed terrorists and “fundamentalists” (whatever that means). And Islam does not oppress women.

I think a lot of the tensions and mistrusts between Muslims and non-Muslims are caused by ignorance. And ignorance can be overcome. It’s not a permanent state.

There's a light at the end of the tunnel after all ...

P.S: For those who haven't read the articles, you could do so here: