Materialism

I think one of the central questions to be answered in addressing our problems nowadays is: are we worshiping money or worshiping God? Muslim is and should worshiping God. Indeed, materialism is the fundamental problem of our time. This was the case of people before us, such as Fir’aun, ‘Ad, Tsamud, etc., as explained in the Qur’an, unfortunately, it is still our problem right now. We are still repeating the same mistake. Why is this so? Is it just too tempting that we can’t control ourselves? Or should we just blame syaithan for their continuous effort in misleading us? Or maybe both? we (human) and syaithan worth the blame.

Allah said in Qur’an Surah Al-Imran ayah (verse) 14, Which means “Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.”

So those are several materialistic things which are beautified in our eye as a test from Allah. Allah mentioned that what besides Allah are much much more better than this temporary-unsatisfactory things. Regarding syaithan’s role, Allah had also mentioned this in the Qur’an, when there was conversation between Allah and Syaithan. Qur’an surat Al-Hijr ayah 32-42 of which the translation is the following:

32: [ Allah ] said, O Iblees, what is [the matter] with you that you are not with those who prostrate?”

33: He said, “Never would I prostrate to a human whom You created out of clay from an altered black mud.”

34: [ Allah ] said, “Then get out of it, for indeed, you are expelled.

35: And indeed, upon you is the curse until the Day of Recompense.”

36: He said,”My Lord, then reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.”

37: [ Allah ] said, “So indeed, you are of those reprieved

38: Until the Day of the time well-known.”

39: [Iblees] said, “My Lord, because You have put me in error, I will surely make [disobedience] attractive to them on earth, and I will mislead them all

40: Except, among them, Your chosen servants.”

41: [ Allah ] said, “This is a path [of return] to Me [that is] straight.

42: Indeed, My servants – no authority will you have over them, except those who follow you of the deviators.

I think from ayah (verses) above, we can clearly see that the one which can survive syaithan’s misguidance is the one that is chosen by Allah to be sincere (mukhlashin). It seems that then we are passive; because it is the chosen one. Nonetheless, the way I understand it is we have to work or move towards the guidance itself. In worldly life, when we want to get a pay rise or promotion from our boss, I believe we should show him that we’re worth of the bounty. Similar thing also applies here, I think. May we are among the mukhlashin and may Allah forgives all of our mistakes.

Economic Series (2): Economic Crisis and Crisis in Economics

Economics cannot stand alone. The decision should neither be based solely on econometric analysis nor any economics modelling. As a social science, economics need to understand the social behavior   The strong held believe assumptions in economics, i.e. efficiency of the market and participants rational behavior, are very often not true.

The side effects of current/mainstream economics, i.e. income inequality, climate change, financial crisis, are more than enough to prove that we need a new economic thinking.

Economics as part of social science is different from natural science. Evidence in natural science is objective, while in social science it is not. In social science there thinking participants while at the same time several events influence the thinking. So there is an absence of independent criteria in economics thinking. This hinders social science in producing a fixed law. Reality is contingent upon participants’ decision; while participants try to make decision based on reality (feedback reflexivity as called by George Soros).

Financial crisis has happened very often due to bubble. Thus it followed by regulatory response.  This will happen continuously without an end due to lack of bold move. The foundation of our economics and financial which is based on interest (unreal economic activity) is inherently unstable.

In addition, It becomes a never ending debate whether government or the market is the source of the problem. I think both. World is complex and change very fast. That is why I think we need a firm guidance-an objective one, which is Allah’s guidance, Qur’an.

Another flash thought

Life is on and on. Different people get motivated by different reasons. Some are very driven by power-to be respected by people; some are driven by money; and some by love to others.

Apart from glamorous life, there are some people who live in a deprived condition. what an ironic life isn’t it? Some are just extravagantly live and spend their wealth, whilst some are trapped in poverty. And then the greed exacerbate the situation. The wealthiest are just never feel satisfied. Exactly as Allah said in the Qur’an, this worldly life is only mata’. In one of his lectures, Ustadz Nouman Ali  explain mata’ as something that we use, but we’ll never be satisfied with it.

I don’t care whether it sounds cliche or not. I really think that Islam is the only way of life. I’ve seen and interacted with people who are very smart, yet, live with no guidance and are only motivated by power and respect from others. I just thought, what a difficult life would that be, being dependent on people’s perception. But I guess that is the very thing that is exploited by many corporations, human’s tendency to conform with others. In economics, I think we called as bandwagon effect, increase in total demand due to conformity.

No body can do the reform alone. Either he/she will be tired by him/her self and then give up or he/she is ‘contaminated’ with the challenge. Being part of reformist movement, I think is a good start. Yet, just joining a group won’t solve the problem by itself. One also needs to continuously improve personal capacity. Closeness to Allah and knowledge I think is the two important personal homework.

Speaking about closeness to Allah, I think it can be achieved by improving our relationship with Qur’an. I firmly believe, the more we interact with Qur’an, which means we spend more time together with Qur’an, is the closer we will be with Allah. On knowledge, I believe there is nothing more important than reading and thinking. These are two things which are repeated often by Allah. The first ayat (verse) revealed was the instruction to read and in many occasion in Qur’an, Allah always say “Afala ta’qilun or Afala tatafakkarun” which means don’t they think? or don’t they use their ‘aqal?

In short, in personal basis, whatever our position or role is, reading Qur’an and reading book + thinking are the very stepping stone for success, insyaallah.

Turning 23

Alhamdulillah,, all thanks to Allah, the most loving and forgiving one.

Yesterday I turned 23. At that time, I was wondering what should be the main target in the year ahead; what would be the big thing that I’ll do next.

Alhamdulillah, now I know the answer, I want to memorize Qur’an more; I want to interact more with Qur’an. Allah has given me the chance to get education from the very best source at the very best program. I have believed and committed to continue this process as I hope I can be policy maker in public finance area by the end of this decade. But now, after watching this great documentary: http://vimeo.com/30779573, I know that I want to make it more meaningful. I want to memorize and interact more with Qur’an. I hope Allah will give me more time in this world to get closer with Qur’an.

Definitely, we should never be away for the guidance. Allahummarhamna bil qur’an; waj’alhulana imaamaw wa nuraw; wa hudaw wa rahmah,,