Wednesday, 24 October 2012

In the name of God!

Tiếng Việt ở dưới @

This weekend, one billion of Muslim in the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice). Many of my Muslim friends have been sending out invitations and kind greetings. Let us remember that Eid is to honour the willingness of ʾIbrāhīm (Abraham) to sacrifice his only son Ismā'īl (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a sheep to sacrifice instead.

And thus, Eid is to remind us that Muslim, Christian, and Jewish, we all belong to one ancestor Abraham, all worship one God (Allah) and all seek to have his true words in the Bible (Quran). We are indeed siblings. We can love each other like siblings, quarrel like siblings, kill each other like siblings, and we deeply know that we will never settle down this love-hate relationship because we are forever tied to each other as siblings... 


Unless we need to seriously question the very act of Abraham and draw our own judgement. So in a dream, God commanded Abraham to slaughter his only son and so he did. According to the Islam tradition, Abraham also consulted his own son. He asked Ishmaeli if he was willing to submit himself to God. Ishmaeli was said to show no hesitation or reservation even for a moment. He said, "Father, do what you have been commanded. You will find me, Insha'Allah (God willing), to be very patient." Upon this consensus, Abraham blindfolded himself and actually carried out cutting Ishmael's throat. When he removed the blindfold, he was astonished to see that Ishmael was unharmed and instead, he found a dead ram which was slaughtered. God was convinced by his obedience and saved Ishmael.   

Dear friends,

Abraham killed his own son in the name of God, literary just made himself blind and follow God's will. That was 4000 years ago. Do we still want to kill our sibling and many others, be them innocent or not, in the name of God? 

Ishmaeli was willing to let his own father slaughter him, without knowing what he did wrong and why he should die. He wanted to die, simply just in the name of God. Do we still believe that one should let himself be destroyed by violence, without any reason but faith and faith only?

God was convinced by the dedication of Abraham and replaced Ishmael with a ram. Do we still believe that the magic is still happening now for millions of innocent who died and for many of those who killed, leaving the justification to God? 

If we do, then we are indeed only capable of carrying out punishment test such as throwing suspects into the fire and if they are innocent, then God will save them and let them be just fine. 

For this reason, I have come to doubt the original spirit of Eid al-Adha, for it seems to indicate blind dedication that results in blind violence and leaves the judgement of this violence and sacrifice completely in the will of God. 

And I know there are many different ways to understand this Biblical tale, and this is just one way to look at it. 

Nevertheless, I especially honour the new layer of meaning that my Muslim friends have beautifully attached to Eid's invitation: respect, sharing and loving. I found this picture, an Orthodox Jew is visiting a Palestinian Muslim family earlier this Eid. It does not reflect the whole situation of course, but it does imply that there is always something beautiful in any dire situations. 

Not killing or sacrificing in the name of God, but loving in the name of God.


từ hôm qua, khoảng 1 tỷ người Hồi Giáo trên thế giới sẽ liên hoan chào đón lễ Hy Sinh (Eid al-Adha). Nguồn gốc của ngày lễ này như sau:

4000 năm trước, ông tổ Abraham thấy Chúa hiện ra trong giấc mơ và yêu cầu ông cắt cổ đứa con trai duy nhất của mình là Ismail để thể hiện lòng tin tuyệt đối vào Chúa. Abraham thi hành lệnh, tự bịt mắt mình và giết con. Chúa chứng nhận lòng tin tuyệt đối của ông thay chỗ của Ismail bằng một con cừu.

Ngày lễ Hy Sinh nhắc ch
úng ta nhớ rằng Abraham là ông tổ của cả ba đạo độc thần: Do Thái, Thiên Chúa và Hôi Giáo, rằng cả ba là anh em một nhà, thờ cùng một đức Chúa (Allah) và cùng có khao khát lưu giữ lại lời dạy của người (Kinh thánh/ Koran).

Ngày lễ Hy Sinh cũng nhắc nhở chúng ta rằng cả ba tôn giáo anh em này sẽ yêu thương nhau như anh em, cãi lộn nhau như anh em, giết chết nhau như vết huynh đệ tương tàn chưa bao giờ từng thay đổi. Và vì chúng ta là anh em, những yêu ghét hận thù giữa chúng ta sẽ không bao giờ có thể hoàn toàn xóa bỏ vì chúng ta đời đời bị buộc vào nhau bằng sợ dây huynh đệ.

Cái kết thúc không mấy sáng sủa này sẽ là số phận vĩnh viễn, trừ phi chúng ta dám nhìn thẳng vào bản chất của cái ngày Lễ Hy Sinh này.

Vậy tức là Abraham nhân danh Chúa giết chết con mình. Có ai còn tin là chúng ta bây giờ cũng có thể nhân danh Chúa giết chết anh em huynh đệ của mình?

Vậy tức là Chúa cảm động rồi thay vào một con cừu. Có ai còn tin là chúng ta bây giờ giết lầm người vô tội thì Chúa sẽ phù phép cho một con gì đó chết thay?

Từ những suy nghĩ này tôi chính thức bày tỏ sự nghi ngờ đối với ngày lễ Hy Sinh. Tôi yêu quý những bạn người Hồi đã biến đổi ý nghĩa gốc của ngày này và gửi đi những lời chúc phúc. Trong ảnh là những người Do Thái đến thăm một gia đình người Hồi ở Palestine - chia sẻ, yêu thương, thay vì giết chóc lẫn nhau và mang danh Chúa.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Intellectually colonized Dubai?

This picture represents both my respect and doubt about Dubai. I admire the economic strategies of the Emirs with their visionary leadership. Lack of natural wonders and resources (oil counts for only 5% of GDP), lack of historical asset (Dubai was found in 1833 by a small tribe emigrated from Saudi), the leaders of Dubai have decided to create man-made wonders to turn this tiny Emirate in the middle of dessert into a global tourist and business hub.

However, it is tempting to say that Dubai is intellectually colonized and manual labor dependent. 95% of the population are expats. Dubai has been built by Western know-how and cheap labor from developing countries. The Emirati are spoiled with super high income for very simple jobs. Arrogant as they can easily be, local Emirati distance themselves from all the foreigners, quietly sapping the bitterness of knowing that they can-not-live without foreigners, no matter how they like or dislike these guests, be them as expensive as Western managers or as cheap as the Indian road workers.

And at the same time, Dubai's next door neighbor Oman is doing the opposite by having a grand policy called Omanization to encourage Omani participation in the economy so as to avoid dependence on foreign knowledge.

In the picture: The tallest man-made structure in the world, Burj Khalifa (829.84 m) and the people who constructed it: workers from developing countries who are reported to be badly mistreated by extremely poor working/living condition. They are said to have their passports confiscated by the employers and have to work 50 hours/week without days off for months on end, which sometimes result in death.