Isnin, 24 Oktober 2016

Metaphysics and Death: A Reflection


Last Saturday (15/10/16) my beloved Uncle has departed this world to meet our Maker. I was not that close to him but my built closely resembles his.

As usual like in any other funeral, the air is full of grief and solemnness.

Throughout the event suddenly I felt a rush of recollection of what I’ve learned about Islām and metaphysics at CASIS and others.

Sadness has always been a definitive character of a funeral. But there are other exceptions in the history of Islām.

The Companions (may Allāh be pleased with them all) of our Beloved Prophet (sallalahu ʿalayhi wassalam) were very much eager to face death and rejoin the Beloved Prophet (sallalahu ʿayahi wassalam). Same goes to Imām Al-Ghazālī as recorded in his beautiful poem about death in which he told his families and friends not to be mourned about him leaving this earth.

Why were they behaving that way? Instead of being sad, they were yearning to face death and meet our Creator – God Almighty?

I think the answers could be found in abundant in the Holy Qurʾān. Just open the second chapter, verse number three when Allāh SWT made clear that those who have utmost certainty in the unseen – which of course includes the metaphysics of death and eschatology – would surely attain happiness and success here and in the hereafter (mufliḥūn).

But preceding that verse on assenting on the truth of the unseen (this is ʿAqīdah matter cannot taqlīd[blind imitation]), Allāh SWT mentioned clearly the a very important ontological property of the Holy Qurʾān as a book which does not contained any doubt whatsoever (lā rayba fīhi).

In other words if human were to assent to the truth of lā rayba fīhi, he or she must attain a high degree of certitude (al-yaqīn) with the attributed matter in this case the whole content of Holy Qurʾān.

I was reminded by Dr Syamsuddin Arif’s lecture in our Arabic class at CASIS when we digressed a bit to discuss the real meaning of the verse “waʿbud rabbaka hattā yaʾtiyaka’l-yaqīn” (worship your Lord until you arrived at the level of certainty). Many commentators of the Qurʾān interpret the word “al-yaqīn” here to mean death as we all know death is certain for everyone and any creature except God the Almighty (kullu nafsin dhāiqat’l-mawt).

But Dr Syamsuddin opined that why don’t we just take the word “al-yaqīn” as “al-yaqīn”. Meaning to say, as how I understood back then when we were discussing this in class, when Allāh SWT commanded us to worship him until we arrive at the level of certainty, He really wants us to strive with our utmost mortal ability in progressive manner until we feel so certain of His Existence (I’m referring to the metaphysical attribute as how the Ṣūfī discussed): metaphysically speaking, nothing Exist but Him as we all know our existence is contingent on His Existence.

This is where I believe Prof. Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas very often emphasized the importance of ontological quality of “al-yaqīn” in his metaphysical system. From there he builds his other metaphysical concepts that have bearings on our worldview as Muslīm, notably on the real meaning of Happiness in Islām.

I remember when I occasionally do lunch suḥbah with brother Asham (Jong Kong) where he would disclose to me the firmness and certitude of Prof. Al-Attas’ character in defending his ground on many things especially his intellecto-spiritual work. Prof. Al-Attas once said throughout his life he has bear witness to what he believes without an iota of doubt and he is ready with the Grace of Allāh to bear witness for mankind (as how described in the Qurʾān: litakūnū shuhadāʾ ʿalā’l-nāss) on the truth of Islām like how many great scholars of Islām in the past and present have done so.

That is why the greatest karamah of scholar like Prof. Al-Attas who has attained high degree of certainty as a believer is to be istiqamah. Never waver no matter what. Never simulated and lower his ‘maruah’ as a scholar in front of anyone. We all know that aren’t we? He suffered greatly throughout his career because he refused to kowtow with the political leaders be it UMNO or the Sultan (he once gave nasihah to the late Sultan Johor).

Why can’t we be like Prof. Al-Attas? After all we claim to benefit from his lectures and works? Why we be timid in front of great oppression?

But this character of being certain and happy in embracing death is of course only evident among the elites. Lay people like us we are mere mortals so do not be upset if we were to feel sad with the death of our loved ones.

But why exactly do we feel sad? I recalled how Dr. Zaidi Ismail explained in WISE that the “sakara’l-mawt” is painful not in physical terms rather it is very much depends on the emotional and spiritual state of oneself in facing the pang of death.

The pang is due to the soul of not able to release itself from the surrogated physical and animal body. It yearns to remain in that mortal body and resisting to depart because of how we mere mortals have accustomed to live in this ephemeral dunyā (linguistically dunyā means what is close hence we are close and very much attached to it in contrast to akhirah the ghayb which we always think to be so distant) by forgetting our true home: the hereafter (Prof. Al-Attas once commented the hadith “ḥubb al-waṭan min’l-imān” means actually love of nation is part of faith. The “watan” here refers to hereafter, our eternal abode not so much of this world or country or Malaysia or Khilafah).

When we read surah Ya-Sīn, read tahlīl or talqīn for the deceased of course we do acknowledge the benefits will be received by the arwah (spirits who resided in the barzakh) but we too must know we the living ones are the one should take heed on the messages behind those rituals.

We read Qurʾān to live not read Qurʾān to the dead. Qurʾān is meant to be used, practiced for the living more than the dead! But sadly most often than not we think other way round.

Do not worry for the dead. As I attended the tahlīl for Dr Afifi Al-Akiti’s father before, he made a clear remark based on the commentary of Imām al-Nawāwī on the hadith of three types of practices that will continuously benefit the deceased where one of them is “pious children”. The word “children” here says Dr Afifi as commentated by Imām al-Nawāwī does not mean biological children only. It also refers to the whole Muslīm who share our biological and spiritual lineage back to Prophet Adam and all other Prophets especially our beloved Prophet Muḥammad sallalahu ʿalayhi wassalam.

So as long as Muslim continue to pray and seek forgiveness for all mankind from God Almighty, all arwah will obtain the same reward from God Almighty.

As for us who still living, our task is to attain that al-yaqīn which bears the fruit of happiness as explained majestically by Prof. Al-Attas in his monumental metaphysical work “Prolegomena”.

Just a reflection.

Al-Fatihah to my uncle, Haji Jamaluddin Abu Hassan.


God knows best.

Siapa ahli dalam Metafizik



Melihat beberapa komentar daripada pembaca budiman, isteri saya menyarankan saya sekali lagi untuk jelaskan secara santai apa itu metafizik. Ini kerana saya yakin ramai rakan-rakan dan pembaca budiman Facebook saya yang baru berkawan secara maya hanya kenali saya kerana kelantangan saya terhadap 1MDB tapi tidak mengenali sisi saya yang lebih “dalam”.

Rata-rata ramai yang faham metafizik seperti satu genre penulisan yang mirip apa yang terdapat pada rak-rak kedai buku yang tertera padanya “New Age” yakni satu fahaman, kepercayaan yang diluar agama tradisional atau “organized religion” yang berbau mistik seperti Kabbalah, Vedanta dan macam-macam lagi.

Selalunya hal-hal “New Age” ini menyentuh berkenaan “law of attraction”, cara berfikir positif, mencari rahsia diri dan pelbagai lagi. Yang pasti banyak tulisan genre ini amat kabur dalam bab ketuhanan tapi cara diolah perbahasannya menggambarkan sifat-sifat ketuhanan.

Adakah semua itu metafizik? Secara formal-nya tidak tapi tema-tema sedemikian ada kaitan di peringkat cabang.

Selama saya bergelumang dalam dunia falsafah dan pemikiran Islam, saya lupa yang golongan kami ini adalah golongan elit. Kami lupa yang orang awam di luar sana telah dijaja oleh pemegang ilmu palsu dengan menukar takrif dan isi bicara ilmu metafizik menurut hawa nafsu mereka sendiri. Hal ini tidaklah pelik kerana sifat ilmu metafizik itu sendiri yang luhur menyebabkan orang awam yang tiada terlatih jiwa dan aqal-nya yang dibatasi dengan hal-hal mahsusat (sensational) tiada mampu membezakan yang mana intan dan yang mana kaca.

Memang tradisi falsafah adalah elitis dan eksklusif dalam erti kata yang positif kerana disiplin ilmu-nya menuntut kepada banyak pra-syarat seperti yang digariskan oleh Aristotle dalam Organon­-nya – yakni gugusan ilmu-ilmu alat yang mempersiapkan diri insan untuk membicarakan hal-hal yang luhur seperti metafizik.

Contoh, masakan kita mampu memahami metafizik tanpa memahami asas-asas epistemologi dalam karya Aristotle seperti Posterior Analytics atau dalam bahasa moden-nya “falsafah sains”? Macam mana nak berhujah metafizik kalau nak bezakan konsep asas manṭīq apa itu taṣdīq dan taṣawwūr pun tak jelas?

Kita bertuah kerana di Malaysia kita mempunyai seorang ahli metafizik yang masih hidup. Beliau adalah Tan Sri Prof Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas.

Karya agung beliau Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam: an Exposition of the Fundamental Elements of the World View (Muqaddimah kepada Metafizik Islam: satu penjelasan berkenaan unsur-unsur asas yang membentuk Pandangan Alam Islam) adalah satu pembuktian ilmiah yang agung berhubung metafizik Islam.

Saya sempat berguru dengan anak-anak murid beliau kira-kira hampir 8 tahun lamanya secara informal sejak zaman siswa, dan secara formal ketika saya jadi pelajar sarjana di Center for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilization (CASIS), UTM KL.  Malah tesis sarjana saya juga ada kaitan dengan metafizik yang mana diselia oleh Prof Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud, guru besar CASIS sendiri. Tapi takdir Allah saya tidak dapat selesaikan-nya. Walaubagaimanapun saya amat bersyukur kerana dapat belajar banyak daripada tradisi ilmu yang makmur di CASIS.

Karya metafizik yang ditulis oleh Prof. Al-Attas ini seperti diperkatakan ramai tokoh dan ulama’ adalah yang terbaik pernah ditulis ilmuan Islam abad ke-20.

Bagi saya karya besar ini menghurai secara tuntas kata hikmah Saydina ʿAlī “man ʿarafa nafsahu faqad ʿarafa rabbahu (barangsiapa mengenali diri-nya akan mengenali Tuhan-nya). Tema asas metafizik ini muncul dalam banyak tradisi agama dan ilmu seperti dalam tradisi Yunani kuno “Knew Thyself” oleh Oracle dari Delphi dan juga tradisi dalam Hindu, Buddha dan juga pengajian klasik China dan ianya dikatakan oleh sestengah sarjana sebagai tradisi hikmah yang abadi (perennial wisdom) yang berkongsi wacana walaupun berbeza bahasa dan budaya.

Ianya membicarakan ilmu jiwa berhubung insan – luar dan dalam; ilmu tentang ilmu (epistemologi) yang bahaskan bagaimana kita tahu yang kita tahu?; yang mana semua ini diadunkan secara sistematik agar tertayang pada pandangan batin kita akan hakikat-hakikat kewujudan sesuatu dan tempatnya yang benar (ontologi) yang mana persoalan “what-ness” (mā hiya) dijadikan pembuka wacana. Contoh apa itu kebahagian? Apa itu kemajuan? Apa itu insan? Apa itu Tuhan? Apa itu masa? Apa itu ruang? Apa itu sebab? dan banyak lagi. Ianya melangkaui perbahasan yang selalu kita belajar dalam subjek sains tabi’i (natural science) di sekolah seperti fizik dan kimia

Kalau kita baca dan faham sedikit daripada inti buku ini khusus bab pembukaan-nya, nescaya kita akan insaf bahawa metafizik bukanlah boleh dibatasi dengan kelulusan PhD. Ianya lebih daripada itu dan ianya bersifat pembelajaran sepanjang hayat. Bukan untuk kegunaan duniawi tapi punya kekuatan untuk mempengaruhi banyak hal duniawi (matinya metafizik di universiti telah diganti oleh kegilaan saintisme yang membataskan kekayaan jiwa kita pada satu cara ilmiah yang sempit sehingga menatijahkan krisis jiwa dan alami).

Pada waktu kini, metafizik diserang dari luar oleh saintisme dan dari dalam oleh kejumudan Wahahbi yang menyerang ilmu kalam, falsafah sebagai satu bid’ah.  Sebab itu di dunia Islam amat jarang ketemui tradisi metafizik yang dinamik (kecuali di pengajian tinggi lama seperti Al-Azhar, Zaytuna, Qarawiyyin). Pengecualian kepada ulama’ Syiah yang masih terus-menerus mengajar dan mengembangkan ilmu metafizik Islam dalam tradisi keilmuan mereka.

Bagi yang berminat, silalah hadir ke CASIS, UTM KL untuk berbincang dan belajar dengan guru-guru falsafah Islam di sana. Boleh juga dapatkan buku tersebut di sana.