It may be a dream afraid of waking up, or it may be a dream coming to realization in the next morning.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rape in Islam

So, recently we are "surprised," to say the least, that a man who was once so influential in Malaysian politics made a controversial statement regarding Islamic hudud. I am no scholar nor well-versed when it comes to Islamic jurisprudence, but I am intrigued by one little fragment of his speech, something about a rape victim who needs to produce four witnesses in order to make a report. As soon as I heard it, I was baffled - does a raped woman really have to produce four witnesses in order to make a report? That would be unjust! Because if she had not been able to produce those witnesses, then she would be punished, and the man who raped her would be free.

So, I made some research in some websites that discussed the Islamic point of view in a case of rape. Well, guess what, who would think that a politician who was so respected because of his eloquent way of thinking would make blind comparison between rape and adultery. In Islam, in making a report on an adultery case, four witnesses need to be produced and such claim that fails to be backed up with witnesses are punished as false allegations. But it is not the same with rape.

There was one instance that happened in the time of Prophet PBUH where a woman was raped and brought to the Prophet in order to be judged. There were no witnesses to back up her claim and the man was caught and asked if he really did that to her. That man confessed and prosecuted and the woman was released. Granted, the man confessed, but the point made is that there were actually no witnesses needed to make such claim of being raped.

Some of you skeptics might ask: Then, what if the man does not confess? Does Islam have to punish the woman because she made a false allegation? The answer is no. The politician who made the statement made it sound like it was the worst law that ever existed because of the harshness. However, one needs to understand that in Islam, doubt trumps almost anything. When in the process of judging someone, even if there is a reason to doubt that a person who is claimed to commit a wrongdoing, might not do it in anyway, punishment should be postponed or held back altogether. In short, the reason not to punish is always stronger than the reason to punish. In the case of rape, it is practiced that the testimony of the woman alone can release her from punishment.

Islam, again, is a compassionate religion. While it is firm in the implementation of law, it is very considerate when it comes to unique case across individuals. While stealing might ensue in the cutting off of hand (which might sound very harsh), but again there might be reasons that could withdraw the decision to cut off the thief's hand, like poverty, or even the amount of the stolen goods, and many more. It depends on the context and circumstances at which the crime occurs. To say, "If you want to drink human hand soup, go to a place where it cuts off thieves' hands," is very uncalled for and just lacks the necessary knowledge until such statement could be made.

Especially in the modern world, we have advanced scientific (physical and psychological) knowledge to know if someone is raped. Medically, there is a difference between intercourse made willingly or in force. We have this knowledge, so if the testimony of the woman is not enough, then we can use these scientific procedures to back up her claim. Forensic psychologists can be employed to analyze the situation psychologically and can even make attempts to scientifically estimate who the rapist is.

So, there you go, for the sake of humanity, I really hope there is no such thing as blind statement when it comes to controversial issues like religions and their laws. It is sad really because rather than being professional about it, there is a hint that you are being personal (as seen from the lack of knowledge but still has the gut to say anything about it).

Sunday, February 26, 2012


In Islam, we are called to be moderate in everything we do. We are asked not to eat too much or too little. We are asked to to be extravagant or too humble. We are also asked not to just focus on the hereafter nor the worldly affairs alone. But there is always the middle pathway of everything.

I think we all know this, but one point that really hooked me up when I was attending the Fiqh Ummah convention recently is that sometimes are not moderate when it comes to labeling ourselves. Have you ever noticed how we are so obsessed at putting labels (or too ignorant in using labels in life) in everything we do? One of the speakers was my old lecturer when I was in my previous university for bachelor's degree. He said that in Malaysia, we Muslim Malays have this thing that he called as, "Melayu Islam, Islam Melayu..." He asserted that in everyday life, we often unconsciously associate being a Muslim with being a Malay. For example, he said that Eidul Fitri, which is an Islamic holiday, is always associated with the image of ketupat, or lemang, or baju melayu, which are all elements of Malay culture, not Islamic culture.

Sometimes, we can also be too obsessed with not letting labels define who we are. In the same convention by another speaker, he gave an example of a man in the time of Prophet, who wore poorly, even when he was one of the rich men in that place. Prophet asked him to change his appearance to the one that suited his status, rather than appearing poorly just because he wanted to show that he was a humble man (I'm not sure the right word in English for zuhud though - so I used "humble").

So, I was thinking, labels are one of the reasons why there is prejudice and racism in the whole world. It is because we are too obsessed to put certain labels to certain race or ethnicity, which leads to stereotypical thinking. But I understand that sometimes we do this without realization and we often inherit these behaviors and mindset from our ancestors. But I hope there are more educational programs like this convention because even if the topic is such a cliche, it can give us insights we have never thought before.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Dangerous Method

So, to those who are familiar with this movie, must have guessed by now that I'm about to talk about what I think about this movie. And for those who think that, yes, you are right. I can't miss discussing about this movie because it is, if not all, very factual to the history of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, two very notable psychologists in the history of psychology. I learnt a lot, and this is a list of what I observed (please note that this observation is in response to the movie, so if there is a factual fallacy, then excuse me):

1) Freud's overemphasis on the effect sex had on behavior was more astounding than I thought.
2) Freud and Jung fought "like a sir." They disagreed on so many things but still showed their respect and professionalism toward each other.
3) The motivation to learn in the culture of professionals was so high that even the patients could teach his or her physician a thing or two. They learnt from each other, something I didn't see in modern educational world. Especially in universities, lecturers are seen as the "absolute" educators. Teachers learning from students now seem to be impossible and inappropriate.
4) They still called their clients as "patients."
5) I think this was one of the earliest realizations in the history of psychological services where therapists or counselors should not push their personal opinions into the head of their clients. One of the characters, Otto, was a physician who kept convincing his client that their problem in life had sexual element and basis. As the result, his clients believed it.
6) Apparently, Freud and Jung were more than friends, Freud seemed to have affection (professional or personal) toward his opponent.
7) Sabina was Jung's client, who was very neurotic, but when she began to heal, she became the next notable psychoanalyst, without the prejudice from her colelagues. I don't think this could happen, again, to our modern world. We always believe in the idea of "once a shrink's subject, forever a shrink's subject..."

Some notable quotes:

1) "And you don't find it necessary or desirable to exercise some restraint as a contribution, say, to the smooth functioning of civilization?" Carl Jung on monogamy.
2) "I'll start gently ripping you to shreds..."
3) "...true sexuality demands the destruction of the ego."
4) "In general, I don't care if a man believes in  Rama, Marx, or Aphrodite. As long as he keeps it out of the consulting room..." Sigmund Freud' view on religion in psychological progress.
5) Sigmund Freud's "The world is the way it is" vs. Carl Jung's "We can show you what it is that you might want to become..."
6) "How sweet it must be to die..."
7) "Think about your behavior and then decide which one of us who is neurotic..." The name-calling version of professionals in the early 1900's.
8) "And by the way, please don't feel you have to restrain yourself here. My family are all veterans of the most unsuitable topics of mealtime conversations..." Freud when Jung couldn't stop talking about sexuality while having dinner with the former's family.

I personally think that this movie would be great for those who want to learn about  a part of the history of psychoanalysis in an entertaining way. I'd recommend it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bias Against Introverts

I read an interview with Susan Cain, an author who criticizes how society nowadays latently value extroversion as a way to achieve success. She said that in America, institutions now are brainwashed with the idea and value of working well with other people. One factor, she said, is that humans are such "social animals" that when simply being with others, we are just much of ourselves anymore. We change at least a bit with other people.

Of course we are not really concerned with this issue given that it is not as delicious and scandalous as prejudice against a certain race, or gender, or sexual preference, and so on. But, Susan said that statistically, one-third of individuals are introverts (maybe in America and I need to find the number for population in Malaysia), and that's quite a lot. So, whether we like it or not, it happens, and without we realizing it, introverts sometimes find it difficult to work in certain situations.

Please note the differences between shyness, people who are afraid of social rejection, and introverts, people who find it more comfortable being in a situations where they are only around close friends, family, or just by themselves. Introverts like it when they are at home sitting on a chair with a partner, for example, reading a book, or watching a movie. The calmer, the better. It's just a pattern of personality whose existence various institutions in this world need to recognize.

I still remember an assignment given by one of my lecturers in IIUM, Dr. Alizi, who taught Forensic Psychology at that time, he gave us the freedom to do the assignment individually or in group. Some people wanted to do it in group and some individually. I, of course, chose to work alone. I think this is one of the best way to deal with the various personalities can find among our students, especially if it is related to introversion and extroversion.

As you can figure out, I'm an introvert myself. I understand the feeling when your lecturer gave a group assignment, especially when noone in the classroom was someone you were comfortable working with. But I survived, so did/do/will a lot of other introverts I believe. Although introverts need to do whatever they should to survive and be successful in this extroversion-oriented world, this doesn't mean we can take it for granted, because time after time, we'll find a group of people, as Susan called as "pretend extroverts," and the name speaks for itself.