I wrote this aeons ago but on hearing the very sad news of the health of my Bro Haris Ibrahim, I have updated my post on him and his Jambuism, with an eulogy as presented by in the poem "A good man" by James Whitcomb Riley.
I want him to know we are all praying for him and his health, even this atheist.
Yin and yang. I get to like a bloke I didn’t before, but I am disappointed with a group I had admiration for. This post is on the first, the cheery bit.
Haris Ibrahim of The People’s Parliament blog! I have to admit I didn’t like him before … well, because of what I saw as his double standards in okaying the Bersih rally whilst condemning Hindraf’s.
But my blogging mate, hardworking civil activist Lucia Lai of the charming blog Mental Jog has frequently attempted to correct my impression of Haris Ibrahim, telling me he’s a nice bloke and in fact had apologised for his initial criticism of Hindraf.
Well, kaytee can be a wee stubborn and while not harbouring any intense dislike of Haris, didn’t look at him with the neutrality that our lack of acquaintance calls for. I believe I might even have made a couple of minor snide remarks at him in my previous posts.
But what changed my mind was a recent post by Haris which appeared in Malaysiakini corner for Top Blogs. I don’t normally visit The People’s Parliament blog but the title of that post was rather catchy – Jambuism ;-)
As a Malaysian, of course I know what ‘jambu’ and ‘ism’ are, but what the content was, at that time remained a mystery to me. As I was already on Malaysiakini home page, it was only a mere click away from reading it.
They say ‘curiosity kills a cat’ (even a creature said to have nine lives), but fortunately for me, it was ‘curiosity kills a prejudice’. Haris wrote about God and our belief in him as follows:
Take the following four as given and not calling for proof. First, that there is a God who will one day judge all of us. Second, that there is a heaven and a hell and, based on God’s judgment, all of us will either go to heaven or hell. There is no halfway house. Third, God’s law for all of us can be summed up by the following: serve Him by loving all of creation. Finally, we all believe in God.
Of course being an atheist I don’t agree with him, but that’s irrelevant because the rest of his story carries the more important message.
Yet even as we all believe, some believe in the unseen God whilst others ascribe to Him a form.
Imagine now that one Z, a bachelor with no family dependents, believes that the jambu tree in his garden is God. Every morning, Z wakes up, goes into his garden, prostrates before the jambu tree and gives thanks for the blessings he will receive and asks that he be given strength and courage to do what is good and right.
After his morning prayers, Z leaves his house and heads for his workplace of the last 30 years: an orphanage. Z teaches English to young orphans. Lunch is provided at the orphanage and in the evening, before he leaves for home, Z picks up two food packs. One for dinner that night and the other for breakfast tomorrow. That’s his wages for the day. That, in a nutshell, sums up Z’s daily life. Fast forward to judgment day.
Never mind my atheist’s lack of belief in Judgement Day, but read on …
Z’s turn is up and he is summoned into the judgment chamber. He enters with great trepidation, expecting to see his familiar jambu tree. No tree. Nothing, except the sense of a Great Presence. And then he hears judgment being handed down. “Expecting a tree were you, you silly bugger! Go on, the door to heaven’s on the left”.
Strangely (or should it be) for an atheist I find God’s judgement as presented by Haris very touching. If there is a God ;-), surely Haris’ version has to be the true one - One who is kind, just, loving, compassionate, humorous, and definitely One confidently above silly (human projected) petty nonsensical jealousy. I am reminded of a quote by one of the Hindu Trinity, Krishna (also the 8th avatar of Vishnu) who said “Whoever you pray to, it is I who will answer”.
But the story of Jambuism also tells me a little about the author, and I now look at him differently. Yes, I now like him ;-)
A Good Man
A good man never dies--
In worthy deed and prayer
And helpful hands, and honest eyes,
If smiles or tears be there:
Who lives for you and me--
Lives for the world he tries
To help--he lives eternally.
A good man never dies.
Who lives to bravely take
His share of toil and stress,
And, for his weaker fellows' sake,
Makes every burden less,--
He may, at last, seem worn--
Lie fallen--hands and eyes
Folded--yet, though we mourn and mourn,
A good man never dies.
- James Whitcomb Riley