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Friday, April 25, 2008

Why Hate the Bees?

Article written by Ustaz Zhulkeflee Hj Ismail in response to careless remarks and wild accusation made by certain quarters that "Madrasah are breeding grounds for terrorism" and Asaatizah are liken as "the Queen bees"


(response to this:)
Lee Kuan Yew
"We need to get the Queen bees"
'When America and Europe are divided, when Japan is hesitant,' Lee cautions, 'the extremists are emboldened'. Newsweek (Dec 1 edition)
Nov 29, 2003

"The Americans, however, make the mistake of seeking largely a military solution. You must use force. But force will only deal with the tip of the problem.
"In killing the terrorists, you will only kill the worker bees. The queen bees are the preachers, who teach a deviant form of Islam in schools and Islamic centers, who capture and twist the minds of the young."

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

Why Hate the Bees?

In the creations made by Allah swt, there is much wisdom and secrets to be found in them. Only those who would care to ponder with sincerity and humilty, while appreciating through the glorification of the Essence of the Most Wise Creator, can understand this truth. They would realise how insignificant is the knowledge that they possess in comparison with the knowledge that is with Allah and that they should be wary of coming to hasty conclusions with the superficial understanding that they have. This even more so when they maliciously cast aspersions on His creations by trying to rouse man's anger towards some of these creatures which can lead to the latter's destruction. We, the followers of Islam, have been enjoined to follow the example of the Angels who when made aware of the the dangers of of unwarranted questioning of things beyond their comprehension, they would glorify Allah by uttering:

سُبۡحَـٰنَكَ لَا عِلۡمَ لَنَآ إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمۡتَنَآ‌ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ ٱلۡحَكِيمُ

"Sub-haa-naka Laa-‘ilma-lanaa il-laa maa-‘al-lam-tanaa, in-naka antal-‘alee-mul-Hakeem"

(Glory be to You (O Allah!) We possess of no knowledge except what You have taught us. Verily You are the All-Knowing, Most Wise!).

What is the fault of the species known as the "bee", which afterall is created by Allah to be a "bee"? Doesn't the bee have the basic right to existence as a "bee"? What wrong has the bee (as a specie) done, just because some men may have been stung by some bees? If a bee attacks someone and by doing so causes its own death, should we say that it has "committed suicide"? Why did it do such a thing? What is the cause of its action? And is it true that those who had stung them are really bees? This we should verify as there are many insects which can sting. Is it true that bees are by nature aggressive and dangerous? Do bees live only to sting people and that they pose a danger to all other creation? We have now come to the point that there are people who clamour for revenge against the "bees" and advocates that the "Queen Bee" be the target for destruction. Is it the fault of the "Queen Bee" to bear and reproduce "bees"? Is it the fault of the bee that it be brought up as, and advised to be, a bee? Is it wrong to be a bee?

Why they choose to forget..........

وَأَوۡحَىٰ رَبُّكَ إِلَى ٱلنَّحۡلِ أَنِ ٱتَّخِذِى مِنَ ٱلۡجِبَالِ بُيُوتً۬ا وَمِنَ ٱلشَّجَرِ وَمِمَّا يَعۡرِشُونَ ثُمَّ كُلِى مِن كُلِّ ٱلثَّمَرَٲتِ فَٱسۡلُكِى سُبُلَ رَبِّكِ ذُلُلاً۬‌ۚ يَخۡرُجُ مِنۢ بُطُونِهَا شَرَابٌ۬ مُّخۡتَلِفٌ ذَٲلِكَ لَأَيَةً۬ لِّقَوۡمٍ۬ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And [consider how] thy Sustainer has inspired the bee: "Prepare for thyself dwellings in mountains and in trees, and in what [men] may build [for thee by way of hives]; and then eat of all manner of fruit, and follow humbly the paths ordained for thee by thy Sustainer." [And lo!] there issues from within these [bees] a fluid of many hues, wherein there is healing for man. In all this, behold, there is a message indeed for people who think!"

(Qur’an: al-Nahl: 16: 68-69)

Glory be to Allah for His Guidance. As a point for deep reflection on this analogy, the Messenger (saw) once urged Muslims to follow the attitude and the life of the bee:

“In-na mathalal-mu’-minee-na ka-mathalin-nahlati.”
Verily the analogy (likeness) of a believer is that of the bee.(al-Hadith).

And if we reflect and ponder on the history of the Muslims since the period in the lifetime of the Messenger (saw) up until today, we will be able to discern a close resemblance between the Muslims and the bee.

Inspiration/ Revelation as Guidance to Life
The bee depends on the inspiration (Guidance) from its Creator to guide its life. The same is also true of the life of a Muslim as he too depends on Guidance (Revelations of Allah in the Qur'an and the teachings of His Messenger as inspired by Allah to him) from the same Creator, Allahu Rob-al-‘Aalameen (Allah, the Master of all Creation). It does not matter where they live or exist, everyone of their member knows the role that he has to fulfill and will strive with all his ability to carry out the responsibilities that have been entrusted on him. They are industrious when carrying out their responsibilities and diligently earnest in fulfilling their tasks in life. They are loyal to the demands placed on them and socially responsible in the community that they exists in.

When seeking sustenance, they have been ejoined (through revelation and inspiration) to seek what is "lawful and good" (halaa-lan-toy-yiban : Qur’an: al-Baqarah: ). They would go to places which are clean, sweet-smelling and beautiful. They have been forewarned to stay far from things and places which are filthy and foul-smelling. They have been commanded to "not wreak havoc on the earth" (wa-laa tufsidu fi-al-ardh : Qur’an: al-Baqarah: ), consistent with the bee that has never defiled any flower nor broken any branch. As a result, they have multiplied on the earth in peace and have contributed to the prosperity and well-being of other life forms.
In the life of a bee, it plays a very important role in the life of plants through its role in cross-pollination. This similarity is seen from the life and the civilization that has been promoted by Islam. History records that much of the knowledge, sciences and wisdom from various nations and past civilizations were rediscovered, reassessed and reintroduced to all other nations by these Muslims. It is the existence of the Islamic civilization that led to the rise of Western Civilization after Europe has long been in the Dark Ages.

If we analyse with sincerity, the civilization that has been advanced by Islam and the Muslims is truly a cosmopolitan one, that we saw how it genuinely and purposefully forged co-existence of various races and religious groups. In fact, the civilzation that has been advanced by Islam encourages the sharing of knowledge and deeds that are beneficial and good from all races. The concept of "ummah" that every Muslim understands, if analyse carefully, is similar to the global community that is currently on everyone's lips. This has long before been introduced by Muhammad (saw), Allah's Last Messnger and the Seal of the Prophets.


The product of the effort of the bee is honey of various types and shades of colour which is from a source so pristine and it contains the elixir for man. The good and benefit that comes from honey is well-known, such that man has strived to encourage the existence of bee colonies in their orchards and plantations. This is not only for the honey that the bee produces but also because he knows that with bees, their agricultural output will be multiplied. The similarity with Islam and Muslims can be seen from the point of view of several of Islam's teachings with regards to the resolving of issues faced by man, which other communities may learn and benefit – i.e. from the efforts to eradicate ignorance through education and the learning culture; the commitment to the removal of all falsehood through the upholding of truth; the emphasis towards achieving correct understanding through knowledge which has been validated and not based on conjecture, myth and false assumptions; the eradication of ignorance and abolishment of all manners of slavery – be it slavery to our primal urges or towards fellow men; the advocation that every man must display the best etiquette and virtues; the support and respect for the freedom to practise basic human rights through the promotion of tolerance within a multiracial or multireligious community; emphasising peaceful resolution rather than enmity; supporting justice for all through the eradication of discrimination by anyone towards any other; and through the promotion of good acts between fellow men.

Perhaps there will be those who say, "But this is not seen among the present Muslims!" It is important to note that benefit (the metaphorical honey) from the Islamic point of view is that of its teachings – i.e. the religion; which can cure all the ills affecting mankind, especially for those who believe:

وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانِ مَا هُوَ شِفَآءٌ۬ وَرَحۡمَةٌ۬ لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ

Wa nunaz-zilu minal-Qur’aani maa-huwa shi-faa-un wa-rah – matun – lil - mu’-mi-neen

"And We (Allah) who have brought down the Qur'an as a healing and a blessing for the believers"

(Quran : al-Isra’ : 17 : 82).

From here it is clear one must differentiate between "Islam" and its followers who are known as "Muslims"

Sadly, Muslims themselves today are besought with all manner of "illnesses" that needs the cure that can only come through the practise of the teachings of Islam. These illnesses are made to appear even worse when certain quarters regard these illnesses as being caused by Islam itself! However, the fact of the matter is that ad-Deen al-Islam is the one and only cure for the now suffering Muslims. It would therefore, be very sad if certain quarters do not like to see the suffering Muslims return to practising and appreciating their religion, so that they can get the cure for their illnesses. It would be tyrannical if they prevent the suffering (the sick) to avail themselves to the only effective cure for the illnesses that they are suffering from!
Like the bee, the identity of a Muslim can also be discerned by his outward appearance. The bee with its yellow colouration and black strips on its body. The Muslims, through their clothes, actions and manner of interaction. For the bee, it is important that their identity is known by all. Should it not be considered good that they make themselves known (identifiable)? We shouldn't be feeling uneasy just because they are unique in their appearance. There is no need to change the bee's appearance. Furthermore, the bee must also know that it IS a bee! Like the bee, Muslims too must have clear means of identification. Of course these unique identification marks may seem strange to others, but it is only natural that different life forms have different identification marks. Isn't it sad that while in the world of insects the unique markings of a bee is accepted by all other insects and they co-exist in harmony wthout forcing one insect to adopt the way of another, yet in the world of human, we see the unique identity of a Muslim becoming the subject of a debate? Why are his identification markings questioned? The modest dressing that covers the 'aurat' (nakedness according to Islam) seems to be hated and be prevented from being adhered? Yet they have allowed or even encouraged cultures which, not only challenges the values of modesty but also, are of foreign origins. Why are they behaving like this? Isn't this "prejudicial and discriminatory"?

Changing the nature of the bee

Is it logical to think that just because the bee is different from the rest of the other insects, it therefore cannot live in harmony with them? Must the bee be forced to change its identity because it is naturally so different from the rest of the insect world? And, is it also fair that because of the difference in its appearance, it is a tear in the fabric of harmony among the insects? And if it is forced to change, to which specie of insect should it become? The fly? The hornet? The firefly? The mosquito? The butterfly? And won't this lead to confusion among the bees themselves? Won't it be dangerous if we get (inadvertently create) bees who forget what they are, and instead think of themselves as a type of hornet which if compared to the bee, is more easily provoked and is more aggressive?

Perhaps the aspect of the bee that is most worrying to some is its sting, which has been naturally created by Allah swt who is the Most Just and Most Wise. But are we not to understand that the sting is only needed for self-defence, for the continued existence of the bee so that it would not be trampled and be subjected to tyranny, so that it is able to defend itself, its home and its community? The sting is never a weapon of tyranny but to protect the bee from tyranny. It is there so that others will respect the bees existence. The existence of such clear indications of its uniqueness (clear identification) serves also as a warning to the others. Furthermore, each bee knows that each time its sting is used it will lead to its own death. As a result, very rarely do we find incidence of its use without reason or due cause.

Like in the case of the bee, many are not happy with Muslims today, especially with regards to Islamic teachings on "jihad". Although the word "jihad" generally means "striving with the utmost" with regards to the carrying out of one's obligations to Allah, it possesses certain specific elements dependent on the issues at hand and the situation (which usually is linked to the effort to improve the individual and community, generally through peaceful means). What makes others wary of Muslims is the concept of "jihad bi-saif" (jihad with sword or with weapons) which is included among the various categories of jihad. Because of this, they accuse Islam of being a religion that supports and encourages terrorism and war. They want Muslims to eradicate the concept of jihad totally from the teachings of Islam. It is even sadder when there are some Muslims, who already without the proper knowledge of Islam, chose to ignore the learned opinion of the ulama' and accept the call for its abolishment by pronouncing their disagreement with the concept of jihad, especially "jihad bi-saif" with words like - "it is no longer relevant", or "the existence of such teachings as jihad, only serves to besmear the image of Islam" and so on. Do they realize that what they are commenting on is part of Islamic teachings that were made clear from Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw).

Do they seriously want to remove the sting which is an integral and natural part of the bee? And what is a bee without a sting? It is important to be reminded that despite the sting, the bee sometimes becomes the victim of humans who are greedy for its honey. What more if there is no sting?
"Bees" who terrorise
Perhaps there are those who take issue with Muslims who are said to be “violent” or who indulge in "terrorism”

If however, there are people who have been stung by bees, there are sure to be causes for their stinging. Usually this occurs when an error has been made with regards to reading the signals such that perhaps the bees felt really threatened. This occurs sometimes even with healthy bees.

Perhaps there are also "unhealthy bees" who are so ill that they don't function like normal bees anymore. For example, there are bees who have been confused by sound waves which affected their receiving the correct signals from their correct source. Or sometimes, it is because they are so far astray from their hive that they lose all sense of proper guidance. There are also bees who have been separated from their natural environments to be placed in laboratories and be "lab-trained" with the goal of changing their nature. The goal of this experimentation is of course the creation of "the new bee" and this, they then intended to be released later to the environment. If the actions of these "new bees" prove to bring about destruction (na-‘udzu-billaah! God forbid), should the whole bee community be faulted? In truth, the cure for the sickness afflicting these "bees" is to encourage efforts to bring them closer to their real nature as bees because naturally, bees are not aggressive or dangerous. To make general and unwarranted accusations against their specie can make all bees to feel uncomfortable. If they run amok, it will be bad indeed for all!

Admittedly there are also bees who sting, but they do so only in defence of their rights. Perhaps their hives have been destroyed or damaged or their families have been unfairly evicted out of their natural homes. If this occurs should the bees alone be blamed for retaliating?

Hence, from this, it is imperative that before we judge an act as an "act of terrorism" or not, it is important to find out the issues fully with all fairness and justice.

Therefore, it is also with care that we should analyse the issue of a Muslim who is said to have "terrorised". If we are honest about wanting to know about its true cause, we must be careful not to make simplistic assumptions that dares to accuse Islamic teachers (through the use of all-inclusive appellation of "teachers") that somehow puts the blame upon all those who educate the Muslims. Even more so, it reflects the ignorance of the accuser for it is seen as besmearing the good name of an institution of learning. If it is true they are teaching terrorism (hidden as an Islamic teaching), this would be against the nature of the "Queen Bee". Perhaps what you have is an "hornet's queen" masquerading as a "Queen Bee". This is most cerainly an exception to the rule. If we are correct and sincere in the use of terminolgy, because what we want to highlight is the erroneous practice (that is terrorism), then we should call the perpetrator of such acts, "criminal". And he should be dissociated from those whose role is to educate. Education after all is a noble profession. Do not associate the noble role of educating with criminality. And it must be remembered that to accuse someone of a crime, we too must act justly through the provision of clear proofs that can link him with the crime he is accused of. Not just by making unwarranted or wild accusations. One may claim to have the facts, but is one's interpretation of it correct? By this act, wouldn't it be seen as tantamount to inciting. If the hornet is given due respect in the adage "sarang tebuan jangan dijolok" (Malay proverb – "the hornets' nest is not to be stirred") - it does not mean that although if the nest that is stirred belongs to bees, this warning should be ignored!

Up till today, when a specie of insect goes on a rampage, only those that goes on the rampage should be feared, and there should be no attempt to implicate the rest of the insect specie. Even then, in the insect world, it seldom involves the bees. A similar analogy can be applied with regards to the dissemination of information by the mass media in its treatment of Muslims. Whenever the one who goes on a rampage is a Muslim, his action is somehow inextricably linked by the media to Islam, or his “Muslim” identity is stressed or suggested. Moreover, when the one who goes on a rampage belongs to another religious group, the mass media does not even attempt to link the rampager with his religion. Why this difference in attitude when churning out news? Who is behind this?

Is there a moderate bee?

The efforts to besmirch the good standing of Islam increases and today there is a even a debate about who is a “moderate Muslim" to differentiate from those Muslims who are perceived as “extremists” . It is as if any Muslim who is involved in violent acts is an extremist, without seeking the reasons for his acts; without giving due consideration for their acts in the light of justice and the teachings of the religion they lay claim to. For example, there are those who fight for their rights. Should those who have been forcibly evicted and exiled and subjected to tyranny; those who have lost many family members or suffered torture; whose right to live has been cruelly robbed to leave with no choice but to resort to violence to protect themselves, since the world has not done anything to safeguard them, nor offered any relief of their suffering and tragedy? In truth, the categorization of Muslims as “moderates” or “extremists” is irrelevant. What is relevant is “whether a Muslim follows his religious teachings or not?” Those who do not follow its teachings are those who trivialise or go against the principles of the teachings of the religion or goes beyond what has been approved by innovating what is actually non-existent and against the principles and teachings of the Islam itself. And the teachings of Islam is complete with regards to giving guiance to its followers to resolve issues with justice and good intentions:

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأۡمُرُ بِٱلۡعَدۡلِ وَٱلۡإِحۡسَـٰنِ

(In-nallaaha ya’-muruu bi-adli-wal-ih-saan

"God has commanded you to deal with (uphold) justice and with compassion" (Qur'an)

If we, the Muslims, are certain of our belief in Islam which advocates our lifestyle to be that of "a people who follows the middle-way" (ummatan wasotan), then there is no need for a discussion about “moderate” or otherwise. The concept of "Ummatan wasotan" is centred on justice which allows for the right to self-defence whenever necessary depending on conditions.

On this issue we see a similarity with the bee again. Would it be relevant to categorize a bee as “moderate” or “extreme”? Is it because of our fear of bees using its sting? A bee is a bee! All this while a bee is an insect that loves peace. We should not be afraid of it, as long as its rights is not trampled, because it is clear that naturally the bee is a peaceful insect.
Why is the Queen Bee now threatened?
In the instances of "Muslim terrorists", there is an attempt to frighten the world with this “danger or threat”. Some try to do this by making the conclusion that Islamic educators in the madrasahs are the source of this danger and threat. Sadly, no attempt is made to identify who exactly, where it is done, or to provide any clear and responsible proofs. Clearly the “Islamic preachers” who are regarded as queen bees of the madrasahs have been accused. They have been accused of having taught “suicide bombers” or training “suicidal bees”.

Perhaps because of their lack of understanding about bees and perhaps their negative sentiments towards bees too, but should anyone in such a situation suggests that the Queen Bee be made the target of for eradication? And this too because only a handful of bees have been found to have embarked on violence? There is little effort to investigate with sincerity why they embarked on violence. Is it rational to justify this intent by saying that it is because these bees are bees? Because the bees have been educated to be bees? If this is true why is it that only a tiny minority resorts to violent acts? Why not all? What is, in all probability, more true is that these bees have not been educated properly to be true bees and this is the cause for their resorting to violence. Hence the solution is to ensure that they are eduacted to be true bees, to ensure that every bee acts like a true bee. The same is true of the Muslims. They should be educated to the utmost to follow proper Islamic teachings so that they are truly able to follow its teachings completely (“ud-khulu fii-sil-mi kaa-afaa” (Qur'an) – "Enter yee into the fold of Islam completely"). And not by keeping the Islamic educators and preachers away from them (as the accusation towards Queen bees seem to suggest)!

It is most sad that by using over simplistic reasoning, there are some who accuse loudly that the "Queen Bees" as the source of danger and threats. It is as if the sting of the bees which are violent can be stopped by casting aside the queen bee. What is interesting is that no mention is made of which "queen bee" is responsible for this alleged teachings? Which hive are they talking about? Let us honestly investigate whether they indeed are Queen of bees or of hornets!

Making a general threat to the queen bee can bring about danger. Perhaps those bees which have no association with them who commit violent acts will regard it as a general threat to the well-being of all bees? Because the queen bees are the most important symbols of the existence of each bee, wouldn’t this only serve to muddy the waters further?

In truth, to reject terrorism, we need to be sensitive in our use of words especially to the general public so that our words would not in turn be labelled as “verbal terrosrism”, such that that those who are innocent also becomes the subject of such attacks and will feel threatened. And there is the possibility, that they will see it as part of an attempt at the eradication of their specie and regard it as a step in the direction towards “genocide”. Isn’t it true that the threats towards the queen bee and the frightening of people about the bees cause the spread of what is known as “apiphobia”, the "fear of bees"? Like with the bees, there are those among men who suffer from a psychological illness called “Islamiphobia”. Why make matters worse? Where can the bees and Muslims complain about the threats towards them? Oh Allah! To You Alone we seek a place of solace and submission. You are our Helper, so help us with regards to those who seek enmity with us.

Signs for those who choose to think.....

Islam has long been the target of efforts by its enemies to besmirch its good standing since the Messenger (saw) was with us. Despite these efforts, Muslims have shown perseverance and patience through a display of peaceful tolerance and openness of mind and heart. By doing so they have succeeded in exposing the malicious intent of such efforts to dirty the good standing of Islam and its teachings. With it also, Islam has continued to grow and its followers is represented by all manner of race and is to found everywhere on this earth. Even though the number of Muslims have reached approximately 1.2 billion people, still the attitude of the other communities towards Muslims, is now being poisoned by the propaganda coming from certain quarters. The teachings of Islam has been purposefully distorted and specific situations have become “proofs”, especially the emotional reaction of certain Muslims (the people) in the political chessboad of the world is offered as though it is the failure of Islam (the religion).

To counter these unwarranted accusations towards Islam, we as Muslims, with the Guidance from Allah (swt) should reflect on this analogy. It is hope with the Muslims following the guidance (found in Islam) which advocate our striving with wisdom and which emphasize the use of reason and rational engagement, it will (insyaAllaah) resolve the issue that has arisen. The comparison made between Islam and the bee is effective for those who want to think. Each of Islam’s teachings need not be compromised and every Muslim should not feel apologetic or suffers from guilt as though we have done wrong, as long as we are steadfast in upholding the noble teachings of the religion. This truth is evident because Islam is the natural religion and those who seek to find fault with it are like those who seek to find fault with nature. The signs of the greatness of Allah is clear for those who are sincere in their analysis and who do not show pride and arrogance. And if there are still people who reject its clarification, it will not perplex us in the least, because the attitude of such people is already mentioned by Allah (swt):

سَأَصۡرِفُ عَنۡ ءَايَـٰتِىَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَتَكَبَّرُونَ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ بِغَيۡرِ ٱلۡحَقِّ

From My messages shall I cause to turn away all those who, without any
right, behave haughtily on earth"
(Qur’an: al-A’raf: 7: 146

كَذَٲلِكَ يَطۡبَعُ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ قَلۡبِ مُتَكَبِّرٍ۬ جَبَّارٍ

“It is in this way that God sets a seal on every arrogant, self-exalting heart.”
(Qur’an: al-Mu’min:40: 35)

Wa-Allaahu a’lam
(Verily Allah alone knows the best)

Zhulkeflee Hj Ismail.
1 Ramadhaan1424H

(Translated by Amran Nordin from an article in Malay "KENAPA PULA LEBAH DIBENCI? written for "Risalah" – publication of PERGAS- Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers' Association) TO VIEW ORIGINAL IN MALAY - [click here]

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