Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Virtues of Imprisonment

When Anwar Ibrahim was imprisoned for six years between 1998 and 2004, he wrote numerous letters and articles for newspapers and magazines both local and abroad. Impressed by the high quality of these publications, one of my professors quipped that perhaps all of us should spent some time in jail. Why? Because nothing nurtures the mind and soul better than being in solitary confinement, accompanied entirely by one’s thoughts and reflections. After all, many past great scholars and world leaders had spent some time in prison. Amongst religious scholars, Imam Abu Hanifa was imprisoned for four years, Ibn Sina for a few months, and Ibn Taymiyyah for seven years; while amongst world leaders examples include Mahatma Gandhi for six years, Muhammad Natsir for five years, Vaclav Havel also for five years and Nelson Mandela for twenty-seven years. While indeed some of them did not survive the ordeal and died in prison, many survived the experience and upon their release demonstrated greater wisdom, resolve and conviction. After all, as the early Muslim jurist Sufyan Al-Thawri had said, "when a man is used to contemplation, he will learn lessons from everything" (quoted in Malik Badri’s Contemplation).

So, if anyone is really sincere about searching for eternal peace (damai abadi), and the thoughts and wisdoms of Al-Ghazali and Al-Shafie, going for a short sabbatical in our ‘international standard’ prison cell could be one of the options. Sheikh Kickdefella has recently experienced it. He and another 'privileged guest' Teresa Kok have now extended invitations for government leaders to sample a taste of that experience.


bubu said...

I'd agree to that also. Man will appreciate more what "thinking" or "contemplating" can do if they are not distracted with the things around them.

Since imprisonment will render a person not having other things to do (here is seen as distractions), he or she will have more time to contemplate and appreciate the power of it.

Zaki Samsudin said...

Salam Brother Bubu,

Thanks for the comment.

So, would like to go to 'prison' someday? :)

bubu said...

I'd love to! For the sake of experience. But only if the strange people (gays and what might they do to you) and treatments (from prison wardens and also what they might do to you) are excluded, hehe. I do not know if I'm fit enough to go through what DS Anwar Ibrahim had went through in prison.

Well, I do think that "imprisonment" is not only confined to the meaning of being in a psysical cell or prison. It can certainly be in other forms such as "mental prison" etc. (which you urself put is as 'prison').

I've heard about a place where they provide participants to experience life in the grave where a simulation of it is done. A participant will enter a physical coffin (of course, with holes) but kept it real as possible (being dark, creepy sounds) and he or she was exposed to the common questions of what might be asked when you are in the grave (e.g. Who is your God? etc.). This simulation provided a really interesting way to look at life in the grave.

Remembering that, I do think a simulation of life in prison is very very good to let people have a glimpse of imprisonment. What do you think about this idea and how to do it. (Also, knowing that there has been an experiment about role playing of prisoners and wardens before this.)

Appreciate your reply. Ws.

Zaki Samsudin said...

Salam Mr. Bubu,

Again, Eid Mubarak to you!

I've never heard of any 'experiments' where subject are put in a "grave-like" situation. Would certainly be interested to know more about that if you have any references to it.

As for my opinion, from a professional psychological perspective, experiments like that would raise some serious ethical concerns. Subjects would definitely undergo a very intense emotional experience which may elicit some very serious negative effects.

However, from a spiritual-religious perspective, it would be good for reflection, contemplation and spiritual enhancement. I remember reading in some books on Sufism where murids are encouraged to perform their wirids in the middle of the night at graveyards. Obviously not to worship the spirit of the dead, but to remind oneself of the eventuality of death. I've heard some stories where in some of those Islamic-motivational camps, participants are left alone at graveyards for a few hours at night.

All-in-all, I believe the idea is good and should be encouraged to anyone who VOLUNTARILY wishes to undergo an 'intensive' session of spiritual enhancement. However,for academic purposes, I don't think we need to construct a real 'six-feet under' experience to prove the hypothesis that "increased thoughts on death would increase one's spirituality." As far as Muslims are concern, that is a statement of fact (contained in various authentic hadith), not a hypothesis.