Why I write

April 25, 2016

COMMENT: Men and women of my generation like Kassim Ahmad, A Kadir Jasin, Zainuddin Maidin, Abdullah ‘Kok Lanas’ Ahmad, Yahaya Ismail (Pak Ya), Dr. M. Bakri Musa,  S. Thayaparan, Mariam Mokthar, Zainah Anwar, Dean Johns, John Berthelsen, Terence Netto, the Late Bernard “Zorro” Khoo, Hishamuddin Rais, Haris Ibrahim, Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, and Kee Thuan Chye, to name a few, find great pleasure in writing to share their views, thoughts, and ideas.

What they all have in common is the courage of their convictions. Others, mainly politicians in power, like to talk and do so profusely, often blowing hot air and accomplishing zilt.

It is tough to write, and tougher to do it well; it requires the ability to think clearly and write succinctly , a good command of language, and the courage to be controversial. More importantly, it requires the writer take a stand on issues and bear the consequences of challenging conventional wisdom. Unlike talking (making sounds), one cannot retract what is written.

Kassim Ahmad (pic above), who I knew since 1960 when he was a young and good looking lecturer in the Malay Studies Department, The University of Malaya, Pantai Valley, Kuala Lumpur, is a prolific author and a public intellectual of my generation. I know him to be courageous, committed, willing to take the heat of controversy and unafraid of damnation. He has remained steadfast and true to his ideals and principles. For this reason, I feel I should share his article, Why I write, with all of us.

Now in his eighties, Pak Kassim, as I know him endearingly, still writes and reads a lot. I am a Kassim Ahmad fan because he is an intellectual pacesetter from my home state Kedah Darul Aman and my role model for his humility and frugal lifestyle.

I cannot but mention Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Although I may differ with  our 4th Prime Minister on politics, Kassim Ahmad and I, and our mutual friend in the US, Dr. M. Bakri Musa, agree that the Tun is unique because he is a writer and a talker in equal measure. The Tun, who is also from Kedah, is first among equals of our generation when it comes to writing, and excels in the art of talking with the guts to put his ideas into action.–Din Merican

Why I write

by Kassim Ahmad*

I developed a penchant for writing  when I was in secondary school. It was to create a world of my own, a world beyond and above reality, a utopia, so to speak, within the bounds of reason. It means a world that can be realized, a just world, in other words.

I write to please no man, although many men and women are, in fact, enthralled by my writings, and ask me to go on writing. I write to uphold the truth. I make no apologies for being a monotheist, in the footsteps of the true great masters, prophet-messengers of our One Creator, — a religion of submission, to wit, a mukmin, a believer in the existence of one lawful God.

I also make no apologies for believing in the divinely-protected Quran, a scripture given in Arabic to an Arab Prophet Muhammad. I say protected, because I know it is protected by a mathematically-awesome-imposible-to-imitate structure based on 19. (See Quran, 74: 30). It is what has come to be known as Code 19.

All prophet-messengers are without exception are submitters to God, monotheists and believers. The great names include Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Jesus was one of the great monotheists of his time. When I stated that Jesus was not a Christian, but a  monotheist, a submitter and a believer, most Christians were up in arms against me. Let me repeat, I write to please no man; I write to the uphold the truth, although the truth is bitter. The doctrine of Trinity was promulgated by the Christian Church in the Council of Nicaea in 315 A.D., long after Jesus was dead.

One Christian reader asked why Jesus had no father; he must be the son of God, he argued. Another claimed that Christians felt the Trinity in the marrow of their bones. The current Pope Francis, a “peoples’ pope”, who when he visited the United States recently never talked about doctrine, but talked about the down-trodden and about inter-religious dialogue. The Pope knows better.

It is a truism that one should not discuss religion. “It is sensitive.” Again I say I write to please no man. I write to uphold the truth, although most people do not like the truth.

What the is the truth? asked Pilate, the Roman governor charged with judging Jesus, whom he found not guilty of rebellion. This is what I call “the Mother of All Questions”. Does the truth exist objectively? To Jesus it does, for he said, “The truth will set you free.”

To answer this question is to answer all questions. Why did God create this world? One answer among many goes, “God created the heavens and the other with truth.” (Quran, 22: 44) What does that mean? It means all orders of creations submit to the law of truth. It means God is the truth.

Some clever people might asks, “Can God contravene His own law of truth?” The answer is of course He can, but God  will not  act against Himself. That would mean two gods who would fight for dominion. That is impossible. As to the atheist, who says religion is the opium of the masses, challenge him to create one that will last beyond his lifetime.

*KASSIM AHMAD is a freelance writer. His website is www.kassimahmad.blogspot.com

13 thoughts on “Why I write

  1. Mariam Mokhtar’s writings are always insightful and have depth. Her writing and analytical style should serve as a good role model for young social science academicians-cum-social activists.

  2. Others may asked , Is there an absolute truth ?

    And if ” God is the truth ” and could “contravene His own law of truth” and ” God will not act against Himself” or that would mean ” two gods would fight for dominance “.

    Then, to an athiest or agnostic , it is possible because there can be a Greater God who created the two gods or things.

    The next question is who created the Greater God ?

    In the meantime, the fact remains (and I have long believed and maintained) that religions (Islam, Christianity or other) are man-made for a purpose, peace. So, it should not force on or seek us, but what we should seek as wish—-in finding peace, Not fighting over thou are more religious than you.

  3. Er.., sorry folks, i really don’t have any ‘thoughts’ of my own. I am not as erudite as many of the folk Din mentioned, and especially don’t claim to own Truth – and that’s why i deserve to be tied up or kenneled. I just borrow his space.

    I therefore agree that a Christian Apologetic Sermon about the ‘truth’ with Muslim ‘experts’, doesn’t change anything. Therefore, i urge those who seek ‘Truth’ (just as the irreconcilable Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, are at odds with each other) have the ‘Goodwill Ethics’ (Kant) to see other points of view.

    For instance, i wondering about En Kassim’s sanity wrt to the need to Mathematically convince god of his own ‘Submissive’ message – even as detractors from his own ‘professed religion’ seek his incarceration for ‘heterodoxy’.. (That, unfortunately, is not ‘hitting below the belt’, but truth of the matter). That is the epitome of hypocrisy.

    Ravi Zacharias has this to say about this way of thinking. Please watch with ‘grown up’ discretion: .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKJVHb_sw_M

    As for agnostic and atheist, perhaps figuring out what/who/why/how an Empricist philosopher like George Berkeley ever ‘happened’ would be interesting. For Berkeley made simple: Nothing is ‘Material’ or ‘Real’ when not perceived. The World does not Exist. Explains in part the ‘Observer Paradox. Only God makes it so..

    Since Quantum Physics seems to bear out that the Universe is almost 100% empty space, perhaps hearing him out would be ‘Truth’? .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0azrs_yPvg

    I have not put these vids up, for folk who are just flippin’ thru, but those who really wanna know and i don’t want to clog Din’s space with useless rejoinders.

  4. Some thoughts to chew on.

    Religions are like rivers flowing into the same sea. Sea is common to all. So why not the seemingly independent gods, advocated by various religions refer to the same One God? How can the inferior man claim that other gods are false and only his god is real and superior?

    Is it not, abdicating one’s own religion to embrace another, a betrayal of family lineage and an act causing hurting pain and offence to one’s own parents generally? If at all one loses faith in his own religion, would it not be better to opt out and be religion-neutral instead of choosing another?

    Why there are the multiple and controversial forms of god and his representatives here on earth – son of god, virgin mother, gods with multiple heads or hands or both, god without form or face and selective messengers of god. God is supposed to be omnipotent, omnipresent and all mighty Why does he need messengers at all? If he had already sent his last messenger (as some claim) in the last 6th or 7th century and the world has not gone any worse without any (new) messengers over the last 1400 years or so, does it not lend credence to proposition that the world need not have had messengers any time previously at all and also for now and the future to come?

    Let me end on a lighter note. God will accomplish what he wants, even by devious means, if required. He confronted a man and wanted to take his life away for a terrible sin he had committed. The man pleaded for mercy and God gave him 3 options and asked him to do any one of the three things and if he did so, he would spare his life. The 3 options were (1) drink bottles of wine (2) beat his wife and (3) kill his male house servant. As expected, he consumed bottles of wine, he became drunk and started beating his wife. The male servant intervened to protect her from being bashed. The drunk got angry and killed him. This is God’s three in one!

  5. “… religion is the opium of the masses..” – K Ahmad

    That was such a great line that it made me want to know more. It was K Marx who wrote, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

    The Earth’s poor are taught by religion to be tolerant and submissive and to take comfort in the hope of a heavenly reward.

    Whereas the rich are taught by religion to practice charity while on Earth. It is a cheap way to buy a ticket to heaven.

  6. Treating our understanding of Quran as equal or above god is against god, by definition. En. Kassim’s assertion that Christ is not the son of god is at most true only with respect to his understanding of Quran, but is not an absolute truth with respect to god. To claim otherwise — i.e. En. Kassim is upholding the absolute truth merely based on his understanding on Quran, is against god.

    We are pretty sure En Kassim doesn’t want to go against god. His understandings of Christ-as-son-of-god when he was 5 year-old, now, and when he passed way must not be the same. And therefore the understandings are plural and must not be the absolute truth equated to god.

    When absolute truth is out of the way, what is left is cause-and-effect and probable “truths”. It could be because of the theological belief of Christ-as-son-of-god, the Christian-majority nations are more peaceful and stable, to which refugees of Muslim nations are attracted.

    I write as a Buddhist who believes in Buddha’s teaching, which does not directly give important role of god or gods in human affairs, but gives important role of cause-and-effect of all phenomena including gods in our mind or other realms.

  7. “For Berkeley made simple: Nothing is ‘Material’ or ‘Real’ when not perceived. The World does not Exist. Explains in part the ‘Observer Paradox. Only God makes it so..”

    Hence reality is not an “object” but an “idea”. Which is why some Hindus (I say some when I should say contemplative Hindus because most assume a fatalistic stance which is the opposite from what I have read about Sanātana Dharma) believe the idea to be illusion.

    Hinduism’s “Maya” – I personally like the definition, ‘that which is not” – point to the transitory nature of reality.

    The “idea” becomes the foci so to speak, with William Gibson going on about “consensual hallucination” as described in this passage from his great novel “Neuromancer” : “The matrix has its roots in primitive arcade games…in early graphics programs and military experimentation with cranial jacks. Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts…A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receeding…”

    I’m a simple man, so all these things are beyond me. Conflations will arise.

    Anyway I get nervous when people feel compelled to write the “truth”. It’s like Joseph Campbell said. “Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.”

    I just wish some folks would concentrate on exploring their own myths without the need for comparing and contrasting with others. It’s not an awards show, you know. There is no best original screenplay, when it comes to religious text.

  8. /// … religion is the opium of the masses..” – K Ahmad ///

    In Malaysia’s context, NEP is the opium of the masses. And the cause of the messes.

  9. “Joseph Campbell said..” Conrad

    Yup, that’s truism. Although Hegel would argue otherwise..

    Speaking of which, the ‘narcotic’ or ‘opiate’ of the masses i.e Religion, so glibly quoted above, is the result of the Hegelian dialectic and negation of the self realization of ‘absolute’ world spirit (aka Reason; Individual’s having ‘subjective’ and communities-societies-nations having ‘objective’ spirit/Reason). Hegel was notoriously skeptical of the ‘Individual’, but his philosophy was all pervading and led to all sorts of institutional and national psychoses – among which was Fascism and Nazism.

    Marx adopted Hegelian metaphysics and historical narrative into his political-economic theory and thus the ‘atheism’ of Communism – not realizing Reason and a priori Knowledge (universally true and necessary), is not Man’s chief preoccupation – nor state of Being. This ‘error’ had humongous repercussions on the ‘proletariat’.

    So Communism will be a bye-word and footnote in Man’s history, if not for those who stubbornly cling on to it’s non-History (His-Story – Ours or God’s), until now.

    Kierkegaard’s individuation and the ‘ethical’ stage of Man’s psyche (besides the aesthetic and religious), is in many ways similar to Buddha’s teachings – because both realize the ephemeral nature of human existence. In many ways, Christianity and Buddhism are very similar, except the former can lead one to the Leap of Faith and the latter, Fulfillment of Ethics and the Now. E.F. Schumacher’s economic postulates come to mind.

    I wonder if a similar ‘existential’ dialogue can be held with a professed Islamic scholar?

  10. 1. I thank Dato’ Din for his favourable comments. As I always say, “God be praised! I am only his humble servant.”
    2. I have gone over the comments carefully. I shall respond only to the major questions.
    3. The first major question is Kilau’s assertion that religion is man-made for the sake of peace. This is the sociological explanation of religion. It is only true up to a point. It does not explain the perennial existence of religions, the reality of which is admitted by many great scientists, not to say philosophers.
    4. Shious’s interesting observation that “… the Christion-majority nations are more peaceful and stable to which refugees of Muslim nations are attracted …” can be explained by the modern West’s embrace of science. Science is an aspect of the triple aspect of truth. The other aspects are philosophy and religion. The great poet Yeats, among others, laments the West’s abandonment of religion in his poem “The Second Coming”.
    5. Shious forgets to mentiond the fact that medieval Europe sat at the feat of Muslim scholars in Baghdad for three centuries before the European renaissance. Of course, Muslims also have deviated from the teachings of their scripture, as happened to others before them.
    6. Conrad”s observation of the transitory nature of reality is correct. The world began as nothing many billions of years ago and is evolving into nothing many billions of years to come. At that time “only the face of God remains”, as the Quran prophesies.
    7. From No. 6 above, a valid question may be asked. Why then this transitory life? Answer: Man’s billions of years in the Universe has proved the invincibility of truth, Man’s search for truth is reason enough for existence, and that the truth is God.
    8. Dialogues between religions is to be encouraged, as current Pope Francis insists. I also said the Pope Francis knows better. This is an understatement pregnant with meaning. We will know what it means before long.
    — Kassim Ahmad

  11. Pak Kassim, reverting to the thread of Dr. Azmi Sharom dated 24th March 2015 , many Westerners (including Martin Lings ) , and this one by H.A.R Gibb , 1953, says ‘ let them accept the Qura’n as an outstanding miracle…. ‘

    But what I would like to emphasize here is the established fact to the effect that SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE in the last two hundred years PROVES Spirituality. More and more Scientific proofs confirm rather than detract spiritual truths.

    At the same time we cannot deny the ‘ truth ‘ that the Christian culture of dealing with our earthly matters , in our physical existence, have INDEED improved Man;s quality of life on earth,,,,, and indulging in spirituality alone have impoverished to a great deal Man’ s capacity to cope with life without Scientific upliftment, because of this world of real matter and flesh…..

    Hawking Eye (HE) was arguing with me when I brought up on the question of ‘ one hundred billion cells in the baby’s brain at birth …..’ , etc . IS THAT NOT AN OUTSTANDING MIRACLE of Creation ? , OR, is the arrogant and conceited ‘Man saying they all happened by themselves , a random happening and by chance ?

    Further on this, in a little book of Science on Man about the billion s of cells in the human brain : The spinal cord is a huge bundle of nerves running inside your backbone (like electrical wires inside the conduit ) , taking all the information to the brain , and…..taking ‘ orders’ to the muscles, and other body organs, right to the minute hairs and finger-nails , to result in this functional Man ( something like the man-made robort ? )

    AND DOES THE ARROGANT MAN KNOW this : The Medical Scientist says this : IF ANYONE WERE TO UNWIND THE BUNDLE OF NERVES AND STRETCH IT ON A STRAIGHT LINE……IT IS 150,000 Kilometers in length, which is, 3 times round the Earth…..? Not a a Miracle ? Chance happening, by itself, a ‘ coincidence ‘ ……How clever the arrogant Man is ? ?

    SCIENTIFIC FACTS PROVES (or confirms Spirituality )…..No ? No ? –

  12. Two sides of the same of the Coin. They are complimentary to each other, Science and Spirituality, they are not incompatible or contradictory but compatible, one to the other.
    The primordial Man , Adam was the Archtype , the model and the origin, but had no father, no mother….Is’nt that the greatest miracle of Creation ? Yes, Man indeed is the greatest miracle of Creation. Wherever we turn, we see miracles….miracles everywhere….

    First, if we recollect Martin Ling’s version concerning the soul (confirmed in the holy book) ‘ the soul is an Immense thing. So Man is the micro=cosmic reality mirror reflection of the Macro-cosmic reality of the Universe ( even Dallai Llama says it )…..hence the conclusion that ‘ Man is the combination of both the permanent and the impermanent at one and the same time…., how can that happen ? By itself or by coincidence ?

    Another miracle ( for musings ) – Each one of us , male and female , we are only complete by ‘ half ‘ , do’nt believe ? Why then do we call each other between the mates ‘ my better half ‘ , isn’t that we are full only by half ? Or, is it a strange language by Man himself ? Is the ‘soul’ of both the male and female same or different , OR Neutral ? Its just that we refuse to admit these are all miracles of Creation don’t we ?

    We can all go on arguing about it…..till thy kingdom come….., peace & blessings !

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