Monday, May 4, 2009

Still On Rumi : The Scholar and the Prince

Shamsul [ Cheeseburgerbuddha ] ,

As I have told you earlier, I promised that 'Indian Limo driver' who drove me home from KLIA on Sunday that I would reproduce his classic 'tirade and monologue'. But after much agonising thoughts and internal deliberation I decided I would return to the more introspective and philosophical Rumi instead. Must give NTR a chance in his first hundred days of the premiership to clean up the mess or at least show some semblance of cleaning up the monumental mess he and his illustrious colleagues have put us the raayats into.. Nothing that Muthusamy said in his monologue was complimentary at all of politicians and statesmen of previous government and Barisan and I do not want to add further to 'old' injury'. He must be an 'intellectual' driver way above his class to have touched on a whole gamut of improprieties the way he did: from judicial 'clowns'; to right royal descent from the high pedestal of respect and honour to outright ignominy even the common people cannot tolerate; KT's smug arrogance in comparision to Khalid's almost peasant-like  impropriety with the 40 cows [tell me ,did he get to eat the meat at all, Muthu asked? ]; Dr M's long list of good friends from YTL [ of the IPP fame ], Ananda right up to VK Lingam [ he sounds like me , he looks like me but but he was not me! ]; the fact that no one exactly asked the right most important question  of' motive' in the Sirul - Altantanya case [ they just met in a shopping complex and Sirul did not like Mongolian face ]; right up to Madam R's usual 20 boxes of baggage after her numerous overseas trips![ Information courtesy of MAS cabin crews according to Muthu !] This chap gave me a 'migraine' for 30 minutes ,the time it take to drive between KLIA and my house in Subang Jaya! So much because of inflation nowadays driving even the 'intellectuals' to find a second job.

But for now Shamsul I would let it be . As Rumi advised that melancholic 'sultan' in your own 'sufi story',[ a 'sufi' tale by Idris Shah, in Ramblings of Cheeseburgerbuddha ], 'I will 'let it pass' . I have had a personal brush of a different kind, but a brush no doubt, with  a  very high handed, ready to please, proud 'servant' of a 'Prince' [ I doubt the Prince know about this ] recently but  in the spirit as expounded by Rumi, this ,I will also 'let it pass'. Not good for my soul to let it carry on.

I have no doubt  though that all the issues  raised by Muthusamy in his 'monologue' would  not just be 'passed' just like that. These  would be the  'carbuncles' in the present 'Princes' [ NTR , colleagues et al ] chests and conscience [ do they ever have conscience ,these people? ]  and major talking points in the coming Penanti bye- election when all and sundry will speak and amplify on the volume of 'discontent and anger' among the 'masses'. If and only if NTR decides his ego can sustain another thumping loss of course!. He may just decide to give a walkover for whatever reason and avoid a massive 'drop of water face'. [ I was not there  so theoretically I do not lose an' erection' : As if the raayat nowadays are that stupid and cannot differentiate a Malay lady from a Mongolian lass!] .I just wonder how a man like him with excess baggage going to haul the nation through thick and thin the next 3 years. Even Obama, without any baggage is beginning to find difficulty. The buck stops at their desk..........

Let us drown our sorrow instead on what Jalal al- Din Rumi wrote some 800 hundred years ago. Rumi , incidentally was originally from present day Afghanisthan  near the Persian border,[ as with most medieval Islamic scholars ], moved to Konya, somewhere in Mid Turkey, in his youth to escape Mongol invasion and carnage. He was brought up and educated by his father, Baha' al- Din, himself a noted scholar , of that time, in Sunni orthodoxy.

"Rumi : The Scholar and the Prince"

The Prophet, on whom be peace, said: The worst of scholars is he who visits princes, and the best of princes is he who visits scholars. Happy is the prince who stands at the poor man's door, and wrectched is the poor man who stands at the door of the prince.

People have taken the outward sense of these words to signify that it is not right for a scholar to visit a prince, lest he should become amongst the worst of scholars. That is not their true meaning, as they have supposed. Their meaning is rather this: that the worst of scholars is, he who accepts help from princes, and whose affair and salvation is dependent upon and stems from the fear of princes. Such a man first applies himself to the persuit of learning with the intention that princes should bestow on him present, hold him in esteem, and promote him to office. It was therefore on this account that he consented to better himself and converted from ignorance to knowledge. When he become a scholar, he was disciplined by the fear of them and was subject to their control. Willy nilly, then, he comports himself in conformity with the way which they have mapped out for him. Consequently, whether it is the prince who formally visit him or he goes to visit the prince, he is in every case the visitor and it is the prince who is visited.

When, however, the case is otherwise, when the scholar has not become qualified with learning on account of the prince but rather his learning from first to last has been for the sake of God; when his way and wont have been upon the path of rectitude because it is in his nature so to comport himself and he cannot do otherwise- just as a fish can only live in water- such a scholar is subject to the control and direction of reason. All men living in his time are held in check by the awe of him and derive succour from the reflection of his radiance, whether they are aware of the fact or no. If such a scholar goes formally to visit the prince, it is he himself who is visited and the prince is the visitor, because in every case the prince take from him and receives help from him. That scholar is independent of the prince. He is the light giving sun, whose whole function is giving and dispensing universally, converting stones into rubies and cornelians, changing mountains of earth into mines of copper and gold and iron, making earth fresh and verdant, bestowing upon the trees fruits of diverse kinds. His trade is giving: he dispenses and does not receive. The Arabs have expressed this in their proverb: " We have learned in order to give, we have not learned in order to take."

Hence it is they who are in all circumstances the visited, and the princes who are the visitors.

Humbly Yours,

Dr Nik Howk

[ Excerpt from " Discourses Of Rumi ", translated by A. J. Arberry ]


Anonymous said...

Well thought and written, Dr Nik.there is another saying but a bit coarse from my memory of my days in Egypt mixing with the ustazs and learning a bit of everything from them..Siapa berkhidmat dengan raja mendapat bala, which eventually has the same meaning as yours truly article..salam

Pearls & Gem said...

The Prince here denotes power ie could well be in present day Malaysia, the PM or the political elite that hold the purse string and decides the policy.
Scholar is ie the ulamak or in an expended version the professionals.

I read somewhere, as there are 7 degrees of heavens , there are as many degrees of hell and at the bottom most, is reserved for the ulamaks who sell their 'knowledge' and ugama to the Prince for a few fistful of ringgit.

Allahualam .

RahmatHarounHashim said...

Dear Nik,
LCCT and KLIA cab drivers are different breed. I met one KLIA cab driver who claimed he used to earn 20K a month as a director of an advestising company. He showed which bill board he had designed along the route KLIA to SJ. Another claimed he had a degree from US.
Most of these cab drivers would talk politics.
Unlike their counterparts,LCCT cab drivers mostly communicate in Malay but still talking politics.
Some LCCT cab drivers speak thick Indonesian accent.

RahmatHarounHashim said...

I like Rumi for his Poems of Love.

Pearls & Gem said...

" sold their souls and ugama to the Prince"
Being an 'ulamak' is no small matter. A double edge sword.They dispense correct advice and intellectually honest with their knowledge, they get to be in line with the Prophet. Any other way they land up in the bottom most of the pit! Not even to a Prince.
Popularity and a fistful of RM is not worth selling your souls!Not even to a Prince. Even he cant save his skin from God's wrath.

Shamsul said...

Doc, Taxi drivers in Dubai are mostly Indians or Pakistanis, theyaught to export a few of our well educated drivers there to share their thoughts and inspirations with regard our to our nation. They will great Ambassadors or PR for the country.
I learned that almost 80 to 90 percent of the population are expatriates and at present due to the slow pressures being applied towrds their social freedom etc. there is goin to be massive exodus from the city!
Well thats beyond my concern but for the sake of sharing taxi driver's point of perceptions taking it at their fares worth.
As for our political scene what can you say, the scene at the Perak DUN was needless to say pretty depressing if not scary. Depressing because we the people have elected these...@#***%!! Scary because they are the ones who are going to dictate our future and there is little we can do about it.
As for the Royal 'involvement', it is even a bigger let down, which reminded me of the story of Brear Rabbit and the Tar baby.
The short of the story is, out of curiousity Brear rabbit stumbbled upon Tar baby and started poking at it. Soon one finger led to the rabbit being all messed up with tar all over its fur. The more it struggled to free itself the more it got covered with the tar. I am sure you can figure out the implication here with the Royal intervention in perak.
And there is Persian saying, 'If the salt can turn bad what can we trun to, to preserve if not even to exist?"
If I were to let out my silent scream within me of the fate of my beloved country, friends and family, my teachers and the next Malaysian struggling to live out his life in peace, I would have very long ago joined Raja Petra K., at the 'Fallen Star Hotel'.
No Doc I am no hero, nor am I a dummy banging my head against some mad bugger's wall.
They can only read my protest in between the lines if they have the will to read my ramblings. I call it so just to discourage unwonted readers. I make it a boredom to read for those who are seeking the negative in whatever they set out to do. You and a few others have found the message in between the lines.
I am glad to have made your acquaintence even if it is on line.
Take care.