NASHIZA SPEAKS: Mad scientist

Mad Scientist

Surah Al Qalam (The Pen)

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

NUN. By the pen and by the Record which (men) write

Thou art not, by the grace of thy Lord, mad or possessed.

Nay, verily for thee is a reward unfailing.

And thou  (standest) on an exalted standard of character.

Soon will thou see and they will see

Which of you is afflicted with madness.

-from: The meaning of the Glorious Qur’an S. LXVIII: 1-6 (Translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali)-

Mad is what people usually call one whose standards are different from their own.

Sayantis dupang or mad scientist. This is what my (Sama) people would call s/he who digresses from the norm, like an educated who does not listen to the lure of petro-dollar and the States, instead chooses the road less traveled and work in the slums or the provinces. My folk called me Sayantis dupang when I decided to quit techie-course in Chemistry and majored in street-education. But the sayantis dupang is precisely what the verse above is addressing itself to. The mad scientist and his project of educating the ignorant, was the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) himself. This verse, being one of the early Meccan surahs, was revealed at a time when the Prophet of Islam was most unpopular and detested by the powers-that- be and attacked by the mainstream thinkers – including those from his own Qurayish clan – whose status of power and control drew strength from peoples’ blind obedience and ignorance. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) talked about the oneness of God, raised the dignity of the oppressed and  taught of equality and social justice. He was branded a madman. Why, the madman dignified the slaves (i.e. he appointed a Bilal ‘one who calls to prayer’ from amongst the black Afrikaan slaves)! He gave equal status to men and women when he endorsed the Ummu’l Kitab – Mother of the Books – of what is believed to be the original manuscript of the Holy Qur’an, to Ummu Salama, one of his widowed wives, a significant gesture and symbol of what is to be the role of Muslim women and mothers, and how they should be known in history — in an ideal society, that is — as educators and formators of the young! Such was unthinkable, even anarchic or ‘terroristic’ (to borrow the more contemporary term), in that era of the empires and slave-hoarders, when female offsprings were buried alive. But the sayantis dupang won’t be contented ‘to practice’ within the comfort zones

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About Mucha Q. Arquiza
Supports the preservation and promotion of indigenous knowledge systems

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