Friday, May 13, 2005

posts, titles and evolution of terms

I read with interest a recent article in Malaysiakini – ‘Bekas imam saman Masjid Darul Ehsan Subang Jaya’. I do not wish to touch on the litigation issue. I am far from qualified to do so. I only want to touch on a small part of the article.

‘….memperkenalkan pengurusan moden… …. jawatan imam kini dikenali sebagai pengurus masjid, bilal sebagai timbalan pengurus masjid dan siak sebagai penolong pengurus masjid’

I remember writing a blog titled ‘thinking of old suraus’. In it I touched on the old suraus independence and contributions of private individuals to the religious need of the society. That was in the yesteryears. Suraus and masjids these days became a prize in middle of a tug of war between people of different ideology. The irony was that both preach on the same Islam and for the love of the same Allah. Love yet fight over it! How appropriate it was when M.Nasir put it in a song ‘Kerana cinta duniamu berperang’ (over love your world’s at war).

I accept that most of our masjids were not best managed and new approach was needed. But must we change the title of imam to manager (pengurus masjid), bilal to deputy mosque manager (timbalan pengurus masjid) and siak to assistant mosque manager (penolong pengurus masjid)? I thought imam was the term for the one who lead the prayer, bilal the one who intone the call to prayer (after Bilal bin Rabah the first man appointed by Rasulullah to call out the azan) and the siak look after the keeping of the masjid. Is not siak more appropriately called manager? But then the siak is lower in rank to the imam so he can only be an assistant. Perhaps they are now to be paid as managers in the government salary scale. That would be good for them and it has my support.

It was thought provoking that we must start anew with a new name, a new term or a new title whenever we try to improve something. When the nation gained independence, we change all our road names. When a non Muslim embraced Islam, he’s expected to take a new name with ‘bin Abdullah (so much so that to convert to Islam was popularly termed ‘masuk Melayu). When a village lad went to town, Samad became Sam, Salmah became Sally and Fatimah became Fatty for overdose of McD and KFC.

So to improve mosques management, the thousand over years old term must be changed. Have we no love for history? Can’t we keep something sacred?

Interestingly, terms now used in our daily life may have had a different meaning previously. The term ‘entrepreneur’ was once meant a person who runs pleasure business – whore house, brothels et al. Then it was used for people who organize entertainments business – music, theatre, concerts etc. Now it was meant for what we all now understand – a person who own, starts and run a business or many businesses. The term ‘khalwat’ used to mean ‘going into seclusion to seek Allah’s company and pleasure alone.’ Now it was meant as ‘going into seclusion to seek pleasure with the other (or maybe the same) sex.’

If used often and repeatedly the new terms may be acceptable. Lies when told often and repeatedly would be accepted as truth. Mussolini and Hitler believed so and played that to the hilt. They almost own the world.

Maybe in the future, when two of us set out to do a solat berjemaah, one will say, ‘Please, I’ll be the ‘makmum’.

‘You be the ‘Pengurus Masjid’

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