While I was surfing the internet today, I came across an article about the film '300', directed by Zack Snyder, which was published on the year 2007. I've watched the film with my friends when I was in Czech Republic. The film was about the great Spartan King Leonidas and Spartans fought to the last man against Persian 'God King' Xerxes.
Leonidas was pictured in this movie as a king, with a great strength and bravery, with a magnificient skills in fighting. As the battle rages, Spartan Queen Gorgo attempts to rally support in Sparta for her husband. The army of 7000 men were then reduced to just 300 men in the end.
Battle of Thermophylae - Symbol of Patriotism
I went to search for myself, and I found out that the battle was actually depicted from the Battle of Thermophylae during the second invasion of the Persian on the Greece. It symbolised the great patriotism of the Greek to their homeland, till their very last blood.
The site of the battle today
Reflecting to the current situation in my country today, I hardly see any patriotism among Malaysians. It's just less than one week before the nation celebrates the 52nd Independence Day, yet I hardly see any vehicle or public departments at my place waving the national flag. Well, people might argue that as a Muslim we shall not put the nation above our religion.
On one hand that sounds correct. The nationalism and patriotism was the key role in the fall of the Ottoman Empire on the year 1924. It all started since early 20th century when the Western countries increased the nationalism among the people of Turkey. On the year 1908, they managed to form the 'Young Turks', who claimed to fight for the people of Turkey using the manifesto 'Panturkism'.
At the same time, the spirit of nationalism was also injected to the people in the Arab countries. They fought and killed among themselves for their so-called 'independent country'. They forgot that Muslims are one.
Even after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Muslim all over the world were still ignorant. In fact, they celebrated their nations, which borders were designed by their enemy. Nobody stood up to fight for the right, until the year 1928, where a very young school teacher, Hassan al-Banna formed the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's largest and oldest Islamic Political group.
The series of the fall of Ottoman Empire was actually more complicated than what I've explained above. InsyaAllah, I'll come out with an entry to discuss about this topic either in October or November. Anyway, history has proven that nationalism and patriotism would lead to destruction when we put it above the religion.
If we think about it logically, there is no way that nationalism can EVER be an adequate way of organising society. It is based ENTIRELY on secularism, and the nations that were created by the UN since its inception. It isn't natural, but artificial. Man-made desires and flaws show when, despite this connection apparently being a 'strong on' (as we are constantly told), nations erupt yearly into civil wars, people within nations have no sense of REAL brotherhood and stab each other (mataphorically) over the smallest of things, and when self-interest comes first beyond all else. There is no sense of real responsibility to each other (other than at war, a lame and rare excuse for a common feeling of patriotism), and this supports the fact that you judge a connection's effectiveness when there is peace. That is when the real effectiveness of any connection will become apparent. Loose ideas of moral goodness aren't comprehensive and don't lead to unity in society. And as we all know as Muslims, we care about our brothers and sisters from other countries whether oppressed or not; we cry for them and fight for them; and the strong in us would even die for them, peacetime or not. All these point to one undeniable fact: Islam is the only suitable and strong enough creed to be used as a way to connect with others. The brotherhood and sisterhood it engenders in us is far stronger than allegiance to a lame piece of cloth. It is far stronger than the token singing of a national anthem at schools.
The Prophet said in one hadith by Abu Daud:
"He is not one of us who calls for 'asabiyah (nationalism) who fights for 'asabiyah, or who dies for 'asabiyah"
There is another hadith, the Prophet Muhammad pbuh said:
"The Muslims are like a body. If one part of the body hurts, the rest of the body will also suffer" - Muslim
Patriotism in Malaysia
On one hand, we could see that patriotism seems to be unsuitable, and that probably the answer given by those who don't show their patriotism in this country. However on the other hand, there remains questions whether do the people in our country actually fight for Islam? Well, I am not really sure about that.
Sensitivity among Malaysians
If we look back the situation in our country, we could see that the people are more 'party-oriented', especially since late 90's. They would be angry and fight for their own party's benefit, even when the truth is still unclear. This year only, we could see lots of demonstrations and rallies has been made to protect the party.
When PAS and UMNO, the two largest party in Malaysia, who claims to be Islamic political party, decided to sit down and discuss for Muslim right, the first thing that came in my mind is that there must be some political benefit on both parties. Well, that's politic. No matter whatever their intention, it sounds good that at last there is a room for discussion among the Muslims, instead of fighting. However, they finally couldn't even start the discussion. PAS has number of reasons not to proceed it. If they are really an Islam-oriented, everything that they do should give benefit for the Muslims. But I couldn't figure it out in this case. However they are willing to sit together with another party, who clearly states that they will never allow 'hudud' to be implemented in this country.
Death of Teoh Beng Hock
The death of Teoh Beng Hock is another example of so-called 'party'sm in Malaysia. The opposition parties seems to blame other people when nobody knows the truth yet. Some political leaders asked the government to authorise the baby in the pregnancy of Teoh's girlfriend, when everybody knows that the couple has not been married and not a single religion in this country allow it. Some people made small demonstrations on this matter. I generally agree with Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee's opinion regarding this matter. Don't those people know how many Muslim women in this country who has also been victimised? Why when anything that involve politicians becomes big issues, when those things has actually widely happens anywhere. Where do the people put their priority, what about our sensitivity to the Muslim community? Why do those parties who claim to be 'Islam-oriented' do not do anything when it involves a Muslim?
There are actually more points that I wanted to say about the film '300', especially on some facts in that story, but I think this is already too much. InsyaAllah, I'll post another entry regarding this film next few days.
At least in the film '300', the leader fought for the people and they united to encounter
their enemies. Unfortunately, the people today fight for their political leaders, no matter it's right or wrong. Fighting for political parties has become a new phenomenon in this country. There is no doubt that Malaysians nowadays are more sensitive to their political leaders and parties.
Nobody made a demonstration or public objection when Marwa al-Sherbini was killed.
Nobody is brave enough to seriously speak up for the Palestinians.
Nobody objects when Syeikh al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayed Tantawi met Shimon Perez several times.
I doubt they have the guts to do so for the sake of their brothers.
Tantawi claimed that he didn't know Peres at the first time, but he was later caught to meet Peres for the 2nd time
The political parties have divided the people. They fragment the people, probably more seriously than nationalism does. Afterall, I doubt if there is actually a real islamic political leader in our country.