Archive for September, 2006

A Preacher For Traders

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

For the past few weeks, every Saturday morning, I joined in a gathering in friend`s house. Called “pengajian”, or muslims gathering, usually there`s a preacher (ustadz) speaking, and the others are listening. The topic is strictly religion-related. This one is a bit different though.

First, almost all of the audience are traders; all from west sumatera region. Second, the preacher is a trader too. A millionaire in fact. Third, questions and discussions are most welcome at any time, even if it will interrupt the speech.

Needless to say, every meeting is a heated and lively one. Religious dogma got interconnected with real-life cases seamlessly. The preacher happened to be an expert in Qur’an, instantly citing the related verses for each cases. He also happened to be a senior trader among us, definitely the richest. His responses are very much based on his Quranic expertise as much as on his trading experiences. The audience however doesn’t always accept everything willingly, questioning everything critically. The speaker responded in clarity, satisfying everyone.
There are cases sometimes when he doesn’t know the answer, and he’s willing to admit it. To which of course we have no problem.

Some of the interesting discussions :

  1. Bribery / commission : The slippery slope. A trader complained that many of his corporate customers are asking for commission. Otherwise, they’ll buy from other supplier, causing him great loss for each customer.

    The speaker responded that he definitely avoid marking-up practice; where you inflate the price on the corporate invoice, and give the difference to the person.

    However the trader raised another issue, where he didn’t do that, and he actually lowered the price so the company is getting the best deal - and on top of that he still had to give the person some money (out of his own pocket).

    Everyone agreed that this is kind of a grey area. First, this can be categorized as bribery, since he won’t give the money if that person is not the company’s staff (this is among the definition of bribe). However, on the other hand, if he doesn’t give the money, that company’s employee will buy from other supplier; which actually sells at higher price with lower customer service quality.

    A trader then told his experience as a supplier to a foreign company; he gave gift to the contact as usual; but the contact declined. But the surprise doesn’t end there, a few days later another company’s official showed up on his shop and asked him for name of employees who has received gift from him. To which he said none (which is the case).
    He was then told that if there are any of the company’s staff dared asking for gift (bribe) from him, just report them, and they’ll be sacked immediately.

    We wished if only all companies, especially local ones, are like this. It will make life much simpler for us.

  2. Government siding with conglomerates, and killing traders in the process. Especially with the rise of multi-story malls, while ignoring various planning regulations; killing traditional markets in the process.

    One of the solution is to move into “modern” market, aka the malls. But this is not always easy, and definitely is not cheap. A shop in traditional market can cost only about 20% of a shop in a mall — and generate more money. In malls, the traditional traders will have to compete with well-known, international brands. It’s as if we’ve gone to the war againts giants.

    People will need to go to the malls less often, and to the traditional markets more. And planning regulations (eg; no hypermarket in town, etc) needs to be executed properly.

  3. Business in the remote areas : surprisingly, this can be very profitable. Reason being no one else is looking to do business there. So when you come, there’s usually no competition. The speaker have even traded in East Timor, during the war time. He made serious amount of money back then, because everyone else was too scared to trade in a war zone.

    He noted that other traders have commented that the more dangerous the area, the easier to trade, because “you can make your own laws”. Needless to say, he doesn’t recommend this.

I’m currently looking forward for the next gathering.

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

WARNING: Do NOT, I repeat, do not visit this website when you don’t have time to spare. Also make sure that no one is around when you browse it, to save you from embarrassment of witnessed while laughing like madman to your computer.

Joke about inter-family marriage is a satire website; created by a muslim (goes by name of Hamzah Moin) that discusses about various silly things muslims does. The best thing is it’s really funny, so instead of making people angry, some people can only smile and thought “oh well, he’s right about it”. Most people will succumb to uncontrollable laughter though. :)

For example; the Darth Vader picture is in an article (among others) criticizing inter-family marriage. In some muslim countries, there’s tendencies to marry with close family, such as cousins. This is permitted in Islam, but not encouraged - however some muslims are going overboard with it. The article criticize it in a strikingly funny way.

More surprises are in this article, about Facebook and its adoption by some Muslims. I’ve already witnessed myself one of the incident (a sister with hijab showed her photos without hijab on Friendster, to our surprise), so I think this article is not pure satire; but mostly based on real events. Sad, but true.

Some muslims are overzealous in their dawa (call to Islam). This article remind us of the potential pitfall of extremism. Made me cringe. On the other hand, this website has the best coverage of the Danish incident. Poor Kinder Surprise never even saw it coming, LOL.

There’s the classic ones as well, such as the Online Nikah (OMG, ROFLMAO). If you’re having problems understanding some of the lingo used there, please feel free to refer to this short guide.

Despite making all kind of fun on (silly) Muslims, Hamzah is actually promoting a conservative & rational Islam. In this article for example, he encouraged people to do Nikah procession like the Prophet did :

Batman beaten by Riddleress

This is the #1 justification for every Muslim male on the planet to get chummy with girls. Well more than chummy actually. E-dating… where you first exchange your life stories and pics then move onto feelings and thoughts about one another and become almost lovers when all of a sudden the guy backs off and says “no sister we are just brothers and sisters in Islam… nothing more… teehee.”

I’m sorry brothers but let’s face it… you can talk to 100 women before marriage and think you “mastered the girl situation” but as soon as that Nikkah contract is signed, you’ll soon realize that the “experience” you received from e-dating those 100 Muslim girls in the past was useless. Why? Because girls are unsolvable. Period. Ever stop and wonder why they made the Riddler from the Batman comics to be a male? It’s because if the Riddler was a female then Batman would NEVER be able to solve any of her riddles. The Riddleress would be victorious and that would be the end of Batman forever.

The islamic nikah process is simple, and there’s no need to make it complex :

The whole marriage process done the Islamic way is ample enough time to get to know your potential spouse. No need to instant message each other 4 years before the big day to “get acquainted”. I’d get bored if I already knew everything about my wife after (or before) the Nikkah, wouldn’t you?

Almost consistently in his articles, Hamzah promotes logic instead of emotion, conservatism instead of extremism, humbleness instead of arrogance.

Superior logic, excellent grammar and spelling, and great sense of humor. Even has an article with Batman in it. What more could you ask ?

Highly recommended !

Respons untuk Respons terhadap pidato Paus

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Dari milis is-lam :

Ada berbagai disinformasi yang disebarkan oleh berbagai pihak untuk membela Paus pada saat ini :

  1. Paus telah dikutip secara serampangan oleh media massa, dengan tujuan untuk meningkatkan oplah koran ybs :

    Tidak benar. Saya sudah membaca langsung naskah pidato aslinya, dan memang ada berbagai kesalahan di situ.

    Detilnya bisa dibaca misalnya disini.

  2. Paus telah dikutip di luar konteks, sebetulnya inti dari pidato Paus adalah mengajak dialog antar agama agar bisa tercipta kedamaian :

    Tidak benar, saya sudah membaca teks pidato lengkapnya, dan inti dari pidato Paus adalah mengajak rekonsiliasi antara sains dan agama. Dan dalam pidato tersebut, Islam dijadikan contoh mengenai agama yang tidak “reasonable” / tidak menggunakan akal pikiran; dan bahwa agama Kristen tidaklah seperti itu.

    Jadi sebetulnya isi pidato Paus yang selengkapnya malah mungkin lebih parah daripada yang dikutip oleh berbagai media massa.

  3. Paus mengatakan Muslim barbar, dan lihat bagaimana respon mereka (Muslim) terhadap ini (2 gereja di bom, dll), memang barbar kan ?

    Ini sama seperti jika saya melihat beberapa orang Padang pelit, dan lalu berkomentar bahwa SEMUA orang Padang itu pelit. Hal ini disebut generalisasi - ketika ada sebagian yang bertindak namun kemudian kita menuduh bahwa semuanya sama.

    Ada banyak komunitas muslim yang merespons pidato Paus ini dengan rasional dan bijaksana.

  4. Umat Islam baru ribut kalau agamanya dihina, tapi diam saja jika ada muslim yang melakukan terorisme:

    Ini hanya sok tahu, memangnya ybs bisa memonitor seluruh media massa yang ada di seluruh dunia ?

    Komunitas muslim di inggris sering memprotes berbagai kegiatan terorisme yang mengatasnamakan Islam, namun seringkali tidak dimuat oleh media.

  5. Paus hanya mengutip saja, dan tidak lantas berarti bahwa Paus setuju dengan tuduhan (Nabi saw memerintahkan untuk menyebarkan Islam dengan kekerasan) tersebut.

    Tetap ada kesalahan Paus, yaitu tidak menuliskan pendapatnya sendiri atas kutipan tersebut. Karena tidak ada, maka wajar jika kemudian ada orang yang mengira bahwa Paus setuju dengan tuduhan tersebut.

Silahkan disebarluaskan agar kasus ini menjadi lebih jelas.