Thursday, November 29, 2012

Disclosing ethnic data won't solve problems either

I refer to the article written by Zuraidah Ibrahim titled "Hiding Ethnic Data Won't Solve Problems" ( In this article, Zuraidah claimed of several advantages that are gained from breaking down problems and classifying them according to race. Among them is that such public disclosure of data "..prompts them (Malay Muslim Organizations) to act, and allows them to track progress or the lack thereof in national policies as well as in the work of self-help organisations."

We live in the Information Age where information is erroneously regarded as knowledge. Since information is wrongly assumed as knowledge, it therefore follows that having more information about a certain problem is assumed to give one the means or powers to solve it. This prevailing assumption is embedded in Zuraidah's statement "The answer to that is again more data, not less."

Does having more information about a certain problem necessarily lead to the means to solve it? This statement can only be true if we are talking about meaningful information, because useless data and information would lead us nowhere.

The eminent Malaysian philosopher, Tan Sri Prof Dr Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas, has clarified the difference between knowledge and information. Knowledge is related to meaning, whereas information is what he defines as the 'object of knowledge'. As the object of knowledge, information therefore needs interpretation by the mind before it is considered to be meaningful. As such, knowledge and information are not one and the same. Additionally, information is only made useful in minds prepared to receive it and render it meaningful. Which is why Prof. Al-Attas defines knowledge as the arrival of meaning to the soul, and the soul's arrival at meaning. If the soul is unprepared to arrive at meaning, it would not be able to attain knowledge.

To illustrate this point on information, perhaps we can imagine a bed-ridden patient stricken with some unknown disease. Having information about the number of friends he has or the type of clothes he wears at home would not be meaningful at all if our objective is to know more about the nature of the unknown disease. At the same time, even if we do furnish information that we assume to be meaningful or useful to us, it does not necessarily mean that it is also useful to others. In other cases, it may also be detrimental as well. For instance, the information that integrating 2would yield the square of x may be meaningful to a student who is trained in Calculus, yet it is useless and meaningless to a three year old, simply because the mind of a three year old is unprepared to interpret such information.

To elucidate this point further, we have the following example taken from a secondary school mathematics question under the category 'Statistical Misconceptions':

With the data above, can we conclude that the safest drivers are those between 16 to 19 years old? We call this type of data misleading at best; it assumes that the extent of one's age is a cause of fatal accidents. From this example, we can understand that disclosing the age of drivers in this case does not help us to understand the nature of safety or safe drivers. Additionally, only trained and discerning minds are able to avoid such logical pitfalls; can we say the same about the general public? 

Similarly, breaking down a problem and classifying it according to ethnicity would not be meaningful in helping us understand the nature of the problem, unless we assume that it is ethnicity that is the cause of the problem. Does being Malay have anything to do with some problems we have at hand like substance abuse or divorces? Even if Zuraidah were right on the fact that such information is useful to the Malay Muslim Organizations because it provides them with the impetus to resolve problems, would such information be useful to the general public? Why cannot it be kept only within the circles of such organization if such information would be useful only to them, especially when we already know of some consequences of disclosing such information to the unprepared minds of the public?

When statistics which indicate that Malays are not as academically successful as their Indian and Chinese counterparts are released to the public, the public would not have the intellectual ability to interpret them in the sense that there exists some underlying socio-economic factors unique to the Malay community which lead to such results. Instead, the public, being the public, would come to the simplistic conclusion that 'Malays are stupider than the Indian and the Chinese'. Therefore, in this case, more data would introduce and reinforce stereotypes; they create more problems instead of solving them.

In any scientific endeavor  we present data not for the sake of presenting. We actually have an aim in mind, that is, to see some useful and meaningful correlations between variables. In the case of societal problems, there are other more useful indicators such as household income and types of families. Such indicators are more clearer and palatable for public consumption.

In conclusion, information is not value-free. It is laden with certain assumptions that the general public would not be capable of discerning and interpreting correctly.

Which brings to mind what the celebrated French philosopher, Jean Braudrillard has to say regarding the condition of our society:

“..we lived in the world where there is more and more information but less and less meaning." It is high time that we start thinking about problems using more meaningful data and disclose data that can be easily and meaningfully consumed by the general public.

There is a fundamental difference between disclosing useful information, and washing dirty linen publicly.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Yayasan Mendaki and the Malay Identity Conundrum

As Yayasan Mendaki commemorates its 30th year since its establishment, it still has to grapple with some disgruntled voices from within the community. These voices are from those whose identity cards indicate their racial identity to be Indian. As such, from a legislative perspective, since these people are not classified as Malays, they are not recognized as the indigenous people of Singapore by the Singapore Constitution, as mentioned in Part XIII, General Provisions, Minorities and special position of Malays, section 152:

The Government shall exercise its functions in such manner as to recognise the special position of the Malays, who are the indigenous people of Singapore, and accordingly it shall be the responsibility of the Government to protect, safeguard, support, foster and promote their political, educational, religious, economic, social and cultural interests and the Malay language. 

Therefore, they do not qualify for some of the schemes offered by Mendaki such as the Tertiary Tuition Fee Subsidy (TTFS) and the Special Malay Bursary (SMB) whose funding comes from the Singapore Government, despite their CPF monthly contributions through the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund (MBMF) which underlines their dedication and commitment towards the socio-economic progress of the Singapore Malay community.

Yet, culturally these section of the community is far from being Indian-like; they neither speak an Indian mother tongue nor profess traditional Indian beliefs.  In reality, they are closer to the Malay community than anything else, if not to be considered as Malays themselves; their mother tongue is Malay, they take Islam as their religion, they practice some Malay customs and traditions and have no problems intermingling and marrying into the rest of the Malay community.

Consequently, from an academic standpoint, they would be classified as a marginal society; they are neither Indian nor Malay! How is that despite their dedication and commitment towards the socio-economic progress of the Singapore Malay community, they are facing such a reality?

The Malaysian Case Study
Such a reality faced by these 'Indian' Muslims stem from the absence of a proper definition of the term 'Malay' in the Singapore Constitution. This is very much unlike the situation in Malaysia where the term 'Malay' is properly defined under Article 160(2) of the Constitution of Malaysia, where a Malay is defined as a person who satisfies two sets of criteria.

First, the person must be one who professes to be a Muslim, habitually speaks the Malay language, and adheres to Malay customs.
Second, the person must have been:
(i) (a) domiciled in the Federation or Singapore on Merdeka Day, (b) born in the Federation or Singapore before Merdeka Day, or (c) born before Merdeka Day of parents one of whom was born in the Federation or Singapore, (collectively, the "Merdeka Day population") or
(ii) is a descendent of a member of the Merdeka Day population.

As being a Muslim is one of the components of the definition, Malay citizens of Malaysia who convert out of Islam are no longer considered Malay under the Constitution. Hence, the Bumiputra privileges afforded to Malays are forfeited. Likewise, a non-Malay Malaysian who converts to Islam can lay claim to Bumiputra privileges, provided he meets the other conditions. A higher education textbook conforming to the government Malaysian studies syllabus states: "This explains the fact that when a non-Malay embraces Islam, he is said to masuk Melayu (become a Malay). That person is automatically assumed to be fluent in the Malay language and to be living like a Malay as a result of his close association with the Malays."

As such, if we were to apply the Malaysian definition to the Singaporean context, then these marginalised 'Indians' would automatically qualify as Malay, due to the religion they profess as well as their practising of Malay as their mother tongue and of Malay customs and traditions.

Solving the conundrum of the Malay identity
While some academics contest such a definition of the term 'Malay', citing political motivations for such a definition and as such is merely arbitrary, I strongly believe that this definition is correct from a scientific perspective. Here are my reasons as to why this Malaysian Constitution definition is correct to be applied as the name of the heterogeneous people living in this region:

1) The earliest usage of the term 'Malay' or 'Malayu' comes from a Chinese traveller's account called I Ching. As such, 'Malay' or 'Malayu' (Ma-Li-Yu-Er according to the Chinese tongue) in this context refers to the name of the people who inhabited an ancient state in Jambi, north of Sriwijaya. This state was conquered by Sriwiya in the 7th Century.

If the anthropologists argue that the term 'Malay' refers to a specific race outined by genealogical considerations, then such an assertion demands proof that all of the people that are considered as Malays must necessarily descend from this Northern and Central Sumatra part of the world. Since such a proof cannot be furnished due to its impossibility to consider over 100 million people of different ethnicities descending from only that part of the world, then the term 'Malay' cannot be understood from a genealogical perspective.

2) Some academics argue that the Malaysian definition of Malay originates from Raffles (1816):

"I cannot but consider the Malayu nation as one people, speaking one language, though spread over so wide a space preserving their character and customs, in all the maritime states lying between the Sulu Seas and the Southern Oceans."

Since Raffles came over this part of the world with the intent of colonizing and of establishing control over the multiplicity of people here, such a definition, according to these academics, must be politically motivated because of its simplicity from an administrative viewpoint (which is a habit for the British as seen in the case of India), and is therefore incorrect. But such a refutation is, from the perspective of logic, the committing of an ad hominem fallacy. It shifts the argument towards Raffles (or the British) instead of the statement itself.

3) An authoritative figure of Malay history, Al-Attas (2011) states:
"The force that moved the genius of the Malay being to create their own new language (as opposed to the primitive Old Malay) by taking the best words from all the languages of the neighbourhood was the emergence of Islam from within that being. It was due to Islam also that the knowledge and use of this new Malay Language, not only as a lingua franca for international trade and commerce, but more importantly as a literary and scientific language, spread to all parts of the Archipelago and gave this heterogeneous region not merely an outward aspect of unity, but more profoundly an inward unity of souls bound together in religion."

He further adds that:
"The spread of the new and vibrant Malay Language and literature as a vehicle of Islam and knowledge presently used by more than two hundred million people in he Malay Archipelago is one of the most important factors in the creation of nationhood, the other factor being the religion of Islam itself."

I am not merely quoting his words here to substantiate my view. Rather I find his argument to be self-evident. We have to honestly admit that if not for Islam or the widespread usage of the Malay Language as its vehicle, we would probably be classified according to the different tribes with names ascribed to the different geographical locations we live in, as in the case of the indigenous people of Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos, speaking different tongues and having different animistic beliefs. There would be no concept of nationhood arising in our minds then!

4) If we use an anthropological-genealogical definition of Malay, we would then be unable to classify some, if not most, of our personalities to be Malay. A brief list of some personalities of Tamil descent are as follows:

a) (Munshi) Abdullah, heralded (erroneously) by some academics as the father of modern Malay Literature, is of Tamil descent.

b) Nuruddin of Ranir, the celebrated 'Malay' scholar of Islam and who wrote many intellectual works in the Malay Language, is also of Tamil descent.

c) Most of the Bendaharas (Prime Ministers) of the Malay empire of Melaka are of Tamil descent too.

d) Some, if not most, of the personalities paraded by Mendaki as their 'achievements' are of Tamil descent too. Take, for instance, Aaron Yusoff Maniam. His last name is a give-away.

5) Interestingly, some alternative accounts of what it means to be Malay, for instance, in Sir Frank Swettenham's description of 'the real Malay', also points in the direction of the 'Muhammedan religion'. This signifies that even foreigners consider Islam to be central to the Malay identity.


Concluding remarks
 I have shown in this brief article that the failure of our predecessors to properly define the term 'Malay' in the Singapore Constitution, has resulted in the creation of a marginal society of Indian Muslims who should be classified as Malay, due to their religion, mother tongue, and some Malay customs and traditions they have practised.

I have also argued why the Malaysian Constitution's definition of Malay is correct and have furnished some brief refutations of alternative viewpoints pertaining to the issue.

It is high time that the dedication and commitment of our Muslim brothers be recognized properly both by our own community and by the State.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Spiritual Interpretation of Physical Quantities, Units and Measurement: Part 4

When we measure physical quantities like length, we do so for a bigger purpose. For instance, when we measure the length of a pen, we do so to find out whether it can fit snugly into our hands when we write. When we measure the length of cells, we use it as an indicator for disease; if cells are found to grow beyond a certain natural length, we may consider it to be diseased or cancerous. Therefore, measurements are not an ends in itself. It is a means to an end, and this end is what we universally know and understand as Justice. When we say Justice, we mean it as the condition where things are in its proper place. For example, we measure the length of cells, so that we can find out whether that cell is within a certain proper length, and subsequently act accordingly; if they are within the normal range then we can advice the patient to maintain his health; if they are not within the normal range then we can prescribe some medicine or treatment to remedy the situation.

Likewise, when we measure spiritual qualities within ourselves, we do so for the purpose of creating Justice within ourselves. This means that there is always a proper way of thinking and acting and behaving; beyond this proper range of thinking and acting and behaving, we would consider this situation or circumstance as an absence of justice. In other words, this person is being unjust to himself.

Authoritative scholars of philosophy and psychology in the Islamic World have argued that the ways in which a human being thinks, acts and behaves are mediated by three things found in the human soul; desire, anger and intellect. The intellect guides the thinking and reflective processes that occur in a human being. Since the intellect is also capable of imagining wrong things as well as thinking in a false way or arriving at erroneous conclusions, in order for us to be just to the intellect and put things in the proper places in our own minds, we need the knowledge of the proper places of things. This knowledge is known as Wisdom. Wisdom is therefore required to do justice to our intellect. For example, one can have knowledge of financial mathematics, but if one uses this knowledge to cheat people, then one does not have wisdom pertaining to how to use that knowledge properly.

As for Desire, it is required for the survival of our biological selves; we desire food, sex and other things that we can also find in animal species. If our desires are not limited within a proper limit, they would be detrimental and unjust to the human being. For instance, if one does not measure and regulate his own desire to eat unhealthy food, he would expose himself to the risk of getting a heart attack and all other obesity-related diseases; this is injustice to his own soul. Therefore, to do justice to one’s desire, one needs Temperance. Temperance, also known to others as Moderation, is therefore another virtue required when we are talking about justice in the context of Desire.

Finally, our ways of thinking, acting and behaving are also mediated by Anger. With anger, we can either stand up to defend our loved ones and our own self-worth, or we can also use Anger to destroy our loved ones too. Anger therefore needs to be regulated and placed within its own proper limits, and doing the condition in which Anger is properly placed and regulated is known as Courage.

In conclusion, we realize that measurements are not an ends in themselves; it is a means to establish a condition known as justice. Just like how we measure the length of cells so that we can know whether they are cancerous or not and then act accordingly, our measurement of our own spiritual qualities serve to establish justice within our own souls. We need to measure and subsequently regulate our faculties of Anger, Desire and Intellect, so as to bring out Courage, Temperance and Wisdom, with the final objective of establishing Justice within ourselves. This is what is known as the Cardinal Virtues, and this is what proper education should address.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Spiritual Interpretation of Physical Quantities, Units and Measurement: Part 3

The allegory of the SI unit

We now know that from our previous discussions, we have different units of measuring a thing. For example, when we are measuring length, we have different units used like the centimetre, metre and kilometre. But at least in this respect we are simply adding a prefix to the word 'metre' to indicate the scale at which we are measuring, so in some ways we are consistent in our measurements.

Yet, do we actually notice that for the measurement of length itself, there exists other systems of measurement like yards, feet and inches; systems of measurements other than the metre? Yet why is that we prefer to use the metre instead of the yard or the inch?

The reason for this is that the preference or the inclination to use the metre over other systems of measurement is an arbitrary or random decision made by a community of scientists to impose a certain type of standard scientific language to enable better communication of scientific ideas across different nations. These units that are to be used in this new scientific language is thus known as the SI units.

In other words, we could have used yards or feets or inches to perform our measurements, but we have somewhat chosen to use the metre just because it is preferred to be used as a standard, without any rational basis for it. So if we ask the question "why metre as the standard?, we don't really have a proper answer for that except "because society thinks it is." This actually translates to "Actually I don't really know why." And reflecting on this make us realize that our choice for preferring the metre over the other systems of measurements, being a preference that is arbitrary or random, is not really a free choice, because it is choice that is not made with full knowledge or understanding of why metre should be preferred over yards, feets or inches. Therefore, without knowledge, we cannot make a free choice. And a random choice or a choice made out of ignorance is not a free choice.

Let us contemplate our own lives over this matter. Imagine we are at a supermarket and we want to purchase some washing detergent. We are then presented with different brands. If we just select one out of the many brands arbitrarily without knowing why we select that one instead of others, we might just end up being short-changed at the end of our transaction. Because once we return home, only then would we realize that the brand we have chosen for ourselves is actually more expensive in terms of price or inferior in terms of quality. If we had known, we would not have chosen to purchase this particular brand!

Like our arbitrary preference for metre over yards, feet and inches as the standard for measuring length decided and imposed by the scientific community, most of our choices and preferences of certain spiritual matters over others, certain system of spiritual measures over others like our measure of what is good and bad, is actually decided and imposed by society without knowledge as to why this system of measure is preferred over others. This phenomenon we face is what is known to us as moral relativism. And as we have argued before this, moral relativism is therefore not exercise of free choice, because in order for a choice to be exercised freely, we must have knowledge that would compel us to prefer one over the other.

There are some who go to the extreme to justify relativism by saying that knowledge is actually not possible because every system of measurement is right and true on its own. If such were the case, then how did they arrive at this conclusion that 'every system of measurement is right and true on its own'? Is it by knowledge or by arbitrary considerations? We then realize that relativism is an absurd belief.

Eventually we have to accept that we need a type of knowledge whose source transcends ourselves, and because it transcends us, we must necessarily accept it as our guide to preferring one thing over the other. It is only with this knowledge that we can make choices that are truly free.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Spiritual Interpretation of Physical Quantities, Units and Measurement: Part 2

The wisdom behind different units of measurements for the same and for different quantities, and the different instruments used to measure them

We use different scales and units of measurements to measure different quantities, and as such we also use different instruments in measuring these different quantities. For example, the length of a book is measured in centimetres or metres, and the instrument used to measure it is the metre rule. The thickness of a few pieces of paper is measured in micrometers, and we use a micrometer screw gauge to measure this. We do not measure the length of a book using a micrometer screw gauge because the anvils and spindels would not fit the entire length of a book; we say that the length of the book is beyond the limits of the micrometer screw gauge. Likewise, it seems absurd for us to measure the thickness of pieces of paper using a metre rule too. Similarly, when we measure length, we use either a micrometer screw gauge or a metre rule, depending on the scale of the measurement. We do not use a beam balance or a stopwatch to measure length; that would be the most absurd thing to do; an instrument that is totally out of context.

By contemplating on this, we realise that in order for us to measure and evaluate a thing, we need to use the correct scale and the correct instrument, or else we would find our measurements absurd to perform. We can apply the same rule when we measure the intellectual and spiritual worth of a person and his works; we need to use the correct scale and correct instrument to determine the rank and place of this particular person.

Unfortunately, today we see a lot of people with limited abilities and experiences trying to measure and evaluate something that is beyond their minds and knowledge to comprehend. Under this absurd notion of humanism, intellectual 'freedom' and critical inquiry, they measure the intellectual worth of  people beyond their limited capabilities and find them unsatisfactory to their standards. Their minds operate within a micrometer scale and their knowledge of things are like micrometer screw gauges, yet they are measuring things beyond this 'scale'. Even more absurd would be those who measure things using instruments that are totally out of context. Some of the ridiculous examples we would find would be attempts by some to measure religion and spirituality using the instruments of anthropology and sociology, when the former is concerned about how to prepare for the Hereafter and the latter concerns itself about this worldly existence. Another example would be the discussion of happiness from a neurological perspective, when happiness is meant to be discussed within the context of ethics and morality. The former deals with molecules and particles in the brain, while the latter deals with Man's ultimate purpose in life!

We need to understand, that everything has a scale of measurement, and as such must be measured using the correct instruments. It would be unjust for the intellectual ability of a moron to be evaluated and tested against post-graduate university standards. Likewise, when we approach honourable men of knowledge, it would be unjust to evaluate them with our 'micrometer scale' minds; we need to increase the 'scale' of our own minds first before we evaluate their intellectual worth, using the correct instruments of measure. Men of knowledge require our utmost respect; this is justice.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Spiritual Interpretation of Physical Quantities, Units and Measurement: Clarification

Allow me to post a caveat on some people who dismiss my writings as coming from an unqualified person, and that what I am writing about are simply 'unbeneficial philosophical speculation' that is not classified under the category of Fardhu Ain knowledge. These people are not in any position to evaluate my qualifications in the first place, and when asked to show proof for such accusations, they offer none.

My clarification of the matter is that if they had read carefully what I have written in the first place, they would not have hurled such accusations. What I have written are rational proofs for the existence of God, and a rational demonstration of Al-Qadar, the concept of adab and the concept of freedom in Islam; all these are fundamental components of the worldview of Islam and thus can be classified as Fardhu Ain knowledge. It may seem like a philosophical speculation because there is no traditional proof (dalil naqli) from the Qur'an or the Sunnah furnished throughout my writings, but readers must understand that I am writing with the view that these things can be taught in our national schools. And with such a context in mind, educators in secular national schools cannot be overtly religious about these things, but they can offer rational proofs which guide students to contemplate on such matters further. Therefore I am writing from the view of a Muslim science educator trying to teach spiritual matters without being obviously religious about it. The essence of my writings are fardhu ain, yet the form may not seem apparently fardhu ain-ish. I derive this from the wisdom of our predecessors like Imam Al-Ghazali and Ibn Sina, who used the sciences of their day as an instrument to discuss spiritual and metaphysical issues. For instance, Imam Al-Ghazali packaged his work on Tasawwuf as if it is a branch of Alchemy in Kimiyat As-Sa'adah (Alchemy of Happiness). Ibn Sina, popularly known as a skilled doctor, published his book on Metaphysics in the form of a book on Medicine; it was thus known as As-Syifa' (The Medicine).

If it is apparent to others that what I have written is wrong, I would like to apologize and would suggest a proper discourse on it, without having to commit personal attacks and sophistry. Knowledge without practice is useless and unbeneficial, and this is how to my mind and in my role as an educator to address the problem of the loss of adab. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can parrot that the solution is to 'instill adab', yet when asked the question 'how to', they stumble, because they have not understood the concept properly in the first place, nor have they attempted to practise them in their professions and in their personal lives.

It is my desire to clarify that there is a difference between unaided philosophical speculation and aided philosophical speculation. In the first, a conclusion on spiritual and metaphysical proofs are arrived at solely using the faculty of imagination of the soul (Mutakhayyilah). In the second, a conclusion of spiritual and metaphysical proofs are arrived at using the same faculty, but with guidance from Revelation and from those who are in close contact with the spiritual realm. There is a third category of people though; those who reject both methods and claim that metaphysical and spiritual truths are not things that can be discussed rationally; these are the Literalists.

My teacher once told me, that Revelation is like the light from the Sun, and reason is like our eyes. If we close our eyes, we would not be able to benefit from the light of the Sun. Likewise, if we reject a rational approach, we would not be able to benefit from Revelation too. Which is why in most books on Kalam, our scholars usually start by reminding their readers of the importance in using our intellect. As mentioned by Imam Al-Haramayn Al-Juwayni (teacher of the eminent Imam Al-Ghazali) in his Kitab Al-Irshad Ila Qawati Al-Adilla Fi Usul Al-I'tiqad (A Guide to Conclusive Proofs for the Principles of Belief):

Reasoning that confers proper understanding [in religion] is obligatory and perceiving its obligatoriness is part of the law itself and the aggregate of rules concerning these legal obligations come either from proofs derived from tradition or from premises behind the legal cases.

Wallahu 'Alam

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Spiritual Interpretation of Physical Quantities, Units and Measurement: Part 1

The very first chapter in our Cambridge Ordinary Level syllabus for Physics is Physical Quantities, Units and Measurement, where students are required to show understanding that physical quantities consists of a numerical magnitude and unit, that different quantities have different units of measurement, that even when measuring the same quantity, different units of measurements and instruments are used, and lastly, to recall the SI units of different quantities; a unified system of measures established by consensus of the scientific community.

From these learning objectives, we can derive several major themes that we can discuss further in a spiritual context, and they are:

1) The wisdom behind measurements
2) The wisdom behind different units of measurements for the same and for different quantities, and the different instruments used to measure them.
3) The allegory of the SI unit
4) Between physical quantities and spiritual qualities

The wisdom behind measurements

If we look deeper into what 'measure' actually mean, do we notice that when we say that something it measurable, we also mean that the object of our analysis and contemplation is something that has a numerical limit? This is because measuring an infinite object is an absurd thing to do. Suppose we want to measure the length of an infinite line. Whether we add 10 cm to it, or subtract 100 km from it, it is still an infinite line; it does not make any difference whether we add or subtract numerical values to this limitless line. Therefore it follows that when something is measurable, we mean that it is something that is limited in some ways.

We impose limits on our own inventions and gadgets, so that they become beneficial to us. When we design a pen, we impose some limits to the physical dimension of the pen so that it can fit in between our fingers. Suppose we do not set a limit in our design; we transgress the limits that the pen should fall within such that the pen's dimensions are now in km instead of cm, we would have an absurd pen that is no longer useful and beneficial to us. In fact, we do not call this thing a pen anymore, although it may look like one.

When we observe some physical phenomena around us, do we notice that everything is bound by a certain limit? This demonstrates two things; that the things around us have a certain Designer, and that any object in nature is bound by a certain proper limit such that if these limits are transgressed, it no longer becomes true. In fact, it becomes absurd for the thing to exist.

The proof of my first point is that our intellect simply cannot conceive that the pen in our hands existed by itself; imagining that the ink, the plastic and metal components self-assembling is an absurd idea that only exists in Harry Potter stories. Similarly, it is absurd to think of the world as a self-assembly of parts. Those who speak of such things are denying their own human nature to reason properly; they are lying to their own selves.

On my second point, limits are either natural or artificial. Natural limits are limits that reflect harmony and wisdom, attempting to mimic the limits imposed by the Designer of this world. Artificial limits, on the other hand, are limits that we imagine in our minds, without reference to the Designer of this world, often causing chaos and imbalance. Why I am saying this is because if we look at the composition of blood, there is some form of natural limits. However, we can also imagine blood having a different set of limits, yet if we put this artificial blood in operation, it does not seem to work as harmoniously as natural blood!

In Arabic, natural limits is called Qadar. We use the same word in the Malay Language as well; 'kadar lemak' refers to natural limits of cholesterol such that if it is trangressed, it would result in a host of medical problems like blocked arteries and so on. In reference to our own actions towards ourselves and towards others, there are also natural limits such that if it is transgressed, it no longer becomes a true; we do not consider it as a good or moral-ethical act.

We know that a student is defined as a person who is learning. Suppose we have a student who is rude and insolent to his teacher; that would mean that he has transgressed the natural limits of a student, and because of his insolence  proper learning can no longer take place. And because proper learning cannot take place, the very idea of him being a student becomes an absurd idea. We would then have an absurd student, or a person who is no longer a student, although outwardly he may still be dressed like one. Similarly, the essence of a human being is his spirit. If this human being does not act in accordance to the nature of his spirit designed by his designer, or that he has transgressed the natural limits of his spirit, behaving more like an animal, then we would not have a human being, although outwardly he may look like one.

Contemplating on the wisdom behind measurements brings us to one definitive conclusion; that absolute freedom is absurd. Even the 'free' sparrow knows that if it did not limit its altitude of flight, it would die of a lack of oxygen, or would be blown violently by the winds of the higher altitudes. Freedom only makes sense if we limit our choices to what is good and beneficial to us; what is within our limits to live a harmonious life as proper human beings. Imagine what 'freedom in eating' would do to our weight and health; recently we have encountered in the news of a girl from the United States who died of overconsumption of coca-cola. She was practising her freedom to consume coca-cola freely, yet is this truly a free choice as what we have discussed earlier? It is a choice for absurdity, because it is a choice that is not made within some natural limits, and therefore not a free choice.