18 June 2009

Three-nation silat tourney a big success

JOHOR BARU: Some 300 silat exponents gathered at a shopping mall in Kulai to participate in a three-nation silat tournament recently.

Silat experts from Johor, Singapore and Riau islands came together at IOI Mall in Kulai to pit their skills against each other at the Sixth Sijori Silat Tournament 2009.

The event’s organising chairman Ismail Ahmad said the tournament kicked off on May 15 and was aimed at forging better ties between the participants.

“Sijori held its first tournament in 2002 in Riau, Indonesia,” he said, adding that it had about 100 participants.Ismail said the organisation had come a long way since it was established.

“When we started, we did it as a friendly encounter between the three countries.

“Although the spirit of competition was high, everyone made friends and learned of the different cultures,” he said.

He said that nine teams took part in this year’s event with six teams from Indonesia, two from Johor and one from Singapore.

“The majority of the participants were from Indonesia and each team needed to pay a RM2,000 entry fee,” he said.

The teams were divided into the male and female categories.

Participant Raja Nazaruddin said the event gave him the opportunity to meet new people.

“I have been competing in Sijori tournaments since 2002 and it has been fun and interesting,” he said, adding that he was proud to represent his community in Bintan.

The event was launched by state Youth and Sports Committee chairman Md Jais.

Sourced from http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2009/6/4/southneast/3917530&sec=southneast

15 June 2009

Promotion Test For Pencak Silat

Bandar Seri Begawan - Some 102 youths from pencak silat scheme of Brunei Muara, Tutong, Temburong took part at the promotion test to the higher level ranking held at Menglait Sports Complex.

The promotion test was divided into four ranking: Black stripe, two black stripes, three black stripes and four black stripes.

The guest of honour, Pengiran Sabri bin Pg Hj Mohamad, Deputy Director of Youth and Sports, presented certificate to those who are promoted to higher level.

The promotion test to higher ranking for the pencak silat scheme of the Youth and Sports Department is one of the important activities to measure the level of achievement of the scheme members.

It is appropriate that the skills acquired through hard practice during training should be evaluated.

The event was organised by Youth and Sport Department, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to draw and encourage the young martial art lovers to become exponents of the game; to provide an arena for experiment and know the level of achievement of the martial art technique; to give opportunity for young martial arts participants to be active and competent; to strengthen the relationship amongst the members and increase their self-confidence so that they could follow the training system.-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sourced from http://www.brudirect.com/index.php/20090613780/Sports-News/promotion-test-for-pencak-silat.html

09 June 2009

A Martial Art Led Me to Islam

The following is an article written by Steven Krauss a.k.a. Dr Abdul Lateef Abdullah who studied Seni Silat Gayong from guru Sulaiman Shariff in the USA. I had the opportunity to interview him for the SENI BELADIRI magazine several years ago where he talked about his reversion to Islam via silat. He has since married a Malaysian and furthered his studies in a local university. In this article he wrote personally, Dr Abdul Lateef elaborates on his experiences in silat and his journey to Islam.

My experience in Islam began as a graduate student in New York City in 1998. Up to that point in my life, for 25 years, I had been a Protestant Christian, but had not been practicing my religion for quite some time. I was more interested in “spirituality” and looking for anything that didn’t have to do with organized religion. To me, Christianity was out of touch and not relevant to the times. It was hard for me to find anything in it that I could apply to my everyday life.

This disillusion with Christianity led me to shun everything that claimed to be organized religion, due to my assumption that they were all pretty much the same, or at least in terms of their lack of relevance and usefulness.

Much of my frustration with Christianity stemmed from its lack of knowledge and guidance around the nature of God, and the individual’s relationship to Him. To me, the Christian philosophy depends on this rather bizarre intermediary relationship that we are supposed to have with Jesus, who on one hand was a man, but was also divine.

For me, this difficult and very vague relationship with our Creator left me searching for something that could provide me with a better understanding of God, and our relationship to Him.

Why couldn’t I just pray directly to God? Why did I have to begin and end every prayer with “in the name of Jesus Christ?” How can an eternal, omnipotent Creator and Sustainer also take the form of a man? Why would He need to? These were just a few of the questions that I could not resolve and come to terms with. Thus, I was hungry for a more straightforward and lucid approach to religion that could provide my life with true guidance, not just dogma that was void of knowledge based in reason.

While in graduate school, I had a Jewish roommate who was a student of the martial arts. While I was living with him, he was studying an art called silat, a traditional Malaysian martial art that is based on the teachings of Islam. When my roommate would come home from his silat classes, he would tell me all about the uniqueness of silat and its rich spiritual dimension.

As I was quite interested in learning martial arts at the time, I was intrigued by what I had heard, and decided to accompany my roommate to class one Saturday morning. Although I did not realise it at the time, my experience in Islam was beginning that morning at my first silat class in New York City back on February 28th, 1998.

There, I met my teacher, Cikgu Sulaiman, the man who would first orient me to the religion of Islam. Although I thought I was beginning a career as a martial artist, that day back in 1998 actually represented my first step toward becoming Muslim.

From the very beginning, I was intrigued by silat and Islam and began spending as much time as possible with my teacher. As my roommate and I were equally passionate about silat, we would go to my teacher’s house and soak up as much knowledge as we could from him. In fact, upon our completing graduate school in the spring of 1998, upon his invitation, we spent the entire summer living with him and his wife. As my learning in silat increased, so did my learning about Islam, a religion that I had hardly any knowledge of prior to my experience in silat.

What made my orientation to Islam so powerful was that as I was learning about it, I was also living it. Because I studied at the home of my teacher, being in the presence of devout Muslims allowed me to be constantly surrounded by the sounds, sights and practices of Islam. For as Islam is an entire lifestyle, when you are in an Islamic environment, you cannot separate it out from everyday life.

Unlike Christianity, which lends toward a separation between daily life and religion, Islam requires its followers to integrate worship of Allah into everything we do. Thus, in living with my teacher, I was immersed in the Islamic deen (lifestyle) and experiencing first-hand how it can shape one’s entire way of life.

Since Islam is focused on the most healthy, positive way of conducting our lives in every setting, then it is, and always will be, the only real answer to any society’s social dilemmas.

In the beginning, Islam was very different and powerful to me. It was also very foreign in many ways and the amount of discipline it requires was difficult to understand. At the time, I was liberal in many ways, and was used to shunning anything dogmatic or imposed, regardless of where it came from!

As time went on, however, and my understanding of Islam grew, I began to slowly see that what seemed to be religious dogma was really a lifestyle put forth to us by our Creator. This lifestyle, I would later learn, is the straight path to true contentment, not just the sensual and superficial way of life that my society and culture promote. I realised that the question is quite simple actually. Who could possibly know better what the best way of life is for human beings than the all-wise Creator?

From that first silat class in New York City to the day I took my shahadah, July 30, 1999, I had undergone a thorough self-examination that was comprised of two major processes. One was to question the culture of the society I was brought up in, and the second was to question the role I wanted religion to play in my everyday life. As for my culture, this one was not as difficult as most people would think.

American culture is highly influential on how we see life because it constantly bombards us with sensual gratification aimed at appealing to our worldly desires. In America, happiness is defined by what we have and consume, thus, the entire culture is geared toward the marketplace.

Unless we are removed from this type environment, it is difficult to see its drawbacks, which are based on worshipping and putting faith in everything but God, the only One that can provide us with real, lasting contentment in our lives.

Being a social scientist by trade, much of my professional time is spent trying to address the social ills of our society. As I learned more about Islam, I came to the conclusion that many societal ills are based on unhealthy social behavior. Since Islam is a lifestyle focused totally on the most healthy, positive way of conducting our lives in every setting, then it is, and will always be, the only real answer to any society’s social dilemmas.

With this realisation, not only did I decide that Islam was relevant to my everyday life, but I began to understand why it is so different from other religions. Only Islam provides knowledge and guidance for every aspect of life.

Only Islam provides a way to achieve health and happiness in every dimension of life—physical, spiritual, mental, financial, etc. Only Islam provides us with a clear life goal and purpose. And only Islam shows us the proper way to live in and contribute to a community. Islam is what everyone needs, and what so many who have not found it yet, are searching for. It is the path to purpose, meaning, health and happiness. This is because it is the straight path to the source of truth and real power—Allah.

It was only until I actually became Muslim that I realised just how encompassing the Islamic lifestyle is. Literally everything we do has one underlying purpose – to remember Allah. The lifestyle provides us with the way—not just the understanding—but an actual method of constantly remembering our Creator in as simple an act as greeting someone, or getting dressed in the morning, or waking up from sleep.

Islam shows us that by remembering Allah, everything we do becomes focused on Him, and thus becomes an act of worship. From this, our energy, our thoughts, and our actions all become redirected away from unhealthy and useless causes and focused on the source of all goodness.

Thus, we are continuously tapping into His divine strength, mercy and grace. So, by remembering Allah constantly, we become stronger and healthier in every aspect of our lives and not distracted by self-defeating thoughts and behaviors.

There still remain some minor aspects of Islam that have proven to be somewhat difficult adjustments for me. Nevertheless, I thank Allah everyday for the ease to which he has allowed me to make the necessary changes in my life so that I can continue to live in America and still be, Insha-Allah, a good Muslim. As a white, middle-class American, many cultural aspects of Islam are quite different from the way in which I grew up.

In fact, when I finally broke the news to my family that I had become Muslim, almost all of their questions and concerns were related to cultural differences—marriage, social life, family, etc. They were much less concerned about my general beliefs about God and religious practice. For my family, friends, and co-workers, becoming Muslim was not seen necessarily as a negative change, but it has required a great deal of education about Islam.

Because acquiring knowledge is a critical component to a Muslim’s development, having a teacher who has taught me how to apply Islam in everyday life has made all the difference in managing whatever difficulties I have experienced from my reversion. Having someone knowledgeable you can turn to whenever you have questions is a wonderful support that every new revert should go out of their way to find. Islam is not a religion that can be rationalized, in the way that Christianity and Judaism are. It is a clear path that must be followed just as Allah has laid out for us through the Qur’an and the lives of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW), his companions, and the saints of Islam.

In this day and age, in this society, discerning the path can often be difficult, especially when we are constantly faced with questions and doubts from people who on the surface may not be hostile to Islam, but whose general lack of faith can have a harmful effect on someone who bases everything they do on their love for Allah. It is also not easy being in an environment where we are constantly bombarded with sensual temptations that are seen as ordinary, common aspects of everyday life.

But when we have the support of a knowledgeable, experienced teacher, who is able to apply the universal teachings of Islam to his life, then the truth becomes clear from error, exactly how Allah (SWT) describes in the Qur’an. From this, we are able to understand how to apply Islam correctly to our own lives, and Insha-Allah, receive Allah’s many blessings. The ultimate test, however, of anyone who claims to have true and right knowledge, is to look at how they apply it in their own lives. If their actions support their teachings, then and only then should we look to them for guidance.

My journey to Islam has been a life-altering experience. It is one that with every passing day makes me more and more appreciative and thankful to Almighty Allah. The extent of His mercy can only fully be understood from the perspective of a Muslim—one who prostrates regularly and submits their will to that of the Creator.

I look back at my life prior to Islam and reflect on the different ways I sought guidance. I think back to all the different ideas I once had of who God really is, and how we can become close to Him. I look back now with a smile and perhaps even a tear because now I know the truth.

Through Islam, I know why so many people who do not believe have so much fear inside them. Life can be very scary without God. I know, because I once harbored that same level of fear. Now, however, I have the ultimate “self-help” program. It’s the self-help program without the self. It’s the path that puts everything is in its proper place. Now, life makes sense. Now, life is order. Now, I know why I am here, where I want to go, what I want my life to be, how I want to live, and what is most important not just to me, but to everyone. I only hope and pray that others who have not found the path yet, can feel the same that I do.

Sourced from http://www.islamonline.net/english/journey/2004/07/jour01.shtml

04 June 2009

Selayang Council Reviewing Plan To Demolish Activity Centre

KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 (Bernama) -- The Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) will review the plan to demolish the activity centre and silat court in Pinggiran Batu Caves following a protest by the residents' association.

Councillor Abdul Rahim Ahmad Kasdi said further discussions would be held to resolve problems that arose soon.

"We act based on complaints by some people and MPS was made to understand that a privatised project will be carried out in the area."

However after a discussion, there was a slight misunderstanding and MPS found that the purpose of having the activity centre was more of having a place for the youths to gather and carry out recreational activities," he said when met here Thursday.

MPS, he said, would find a solution by not setting aside the intention of the silat association and local residents with regard to the activity centre.

Rahim said he, together with the enforcement officers, and members of the silat association would meet the MPS president to resolve the problem in the near term.

Majlis Permuafakatan Ummah (Pewaris) director Dr Izham Nayan said the protest involving nearly 500 people including local residents and members of the Seni Silat Sukmaraga organisation was to defend the activity centre that was built in January.

The issue arose after the silat court was set up.

"We hope MPS will allow us time to discuss the matter so that the activity centre can continue to be developed to train the youths for the better and that they are not involved in unbeneficial activities," Izham said.

Sourced from http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=415889

01 June 2009

MPSJ tears down illegal silat fighting ring

The Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) demolished the illegal silat fighting ring at USJ 1/4 on Friday.

A team of 30 enforcement officers, led by building department director Nor Azmi Mohd Rosli and assistant enforcement officer Tarmidi Kadri, took down the hoardings that were used to cordon off the area.

Armed with electrical saws, the officers also removed a hut which was standing at a corner of the fenced-up land located at Jalan USJ 1/4L.

An electrical wire connecting to the kindergarten next to the land was also cut off.

On May 11, StarMetro highlighted this case after being alerted by the residents who were unhappy that this structure had deprived them of the land for recreation.

A spokesperson from the building department said notice was issued to the culprit on May 22, notifying that the structure is illegal and should be removed.

Then, a notice to demolish the structure was issued on May 25 and the culprits were given three days to take down the structure.

“They promised to remove the structure on Friday morning but failed to do so.

“Hence, MPSJ president Datuk Adnan Md Ikshan instructed us to demolish the structure in the afternoon,” the spokesperson said.

Residents’ association chairman Jessica Teh said she was thankful to the MPSJ for acting on the residents’ complaint.

“It shows that they care for the residents. I am happy that our children can play at this site again in the evening,” she said.

Sourced from http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2009/6/1/central/4012918&sec=central