Monday, 25 June 2012


Imam Al-Ghazali wasn't just being philosophical when he asked can we ever verify whether we are living in a prolonged dream or not. In fact, he was really discussing the limitation of the verification of what we perceive as physical truth or reality, leading him to conclude that the only truth one can get, will never be from physical observation (or measurement) hence deduction, but from the ‘religious experience’ specifically termed as kasyaf.  

Kurt Godel second him in this matter when conjecturing that true or false can no longer be determined when we fail to agree on a given axioms; as contained in his Incompleteness Theorem.  Our progress in any deductions is built upon our acceptance towards some fundamental premises or axioms (some called them as postulates). The very basic nature of axiom is that, they must be accepted (without the need for proofs or evidences) for one to progress in the paradigm of the deduction.  In turn, one is free not to accept the axiom but this will only mean that he or she can no longer be in the same paradigm, he or she will be totally out of the system and must make his or her own system if one ever wants to proceed. 

The two above might be too confusing for any don to comprehend, so let me try to propose my own version of the idea. Let’s start with asking a question “How do we know or verify whether we are looking at the same color?” This is another way to ask, “Is my green your green?”  

Yes, you can answer YES to the question and provide further explanation such that we can always measure the characteristic of the color Green, say for example its wavelength and frequency and if, somehow we can show that the same wavelength (or frequency) has entered both my eyes and your eyes,  that means we are seeing the same Green color.

Aha! But isn’t this what I said in the first paragraph above that “..the only truth one can get, will never be from physical observation (or measurement) hence deduction,…”.  Let me explain further.  

Despite the fact that we can measure the characteristic of the light (hence color) that enter into our eyes and indeed we can always verify such a measurement, but down to the point of what our brain interpret exactly can never be verified, we alone know what our brain ‘tells’ us and us alone. 

And I am not talking about the physical phenomenon of electrical pulse produced and perceived by our neuron and brain cell, these are still physically measurable, instead I am referring to the state of consciousness, the state where meaning start to exist. Maybe brain is not the proper word for it, it should be the SOUL. Down to the level of how SOUL interpret the physical data or information; all verification fails. We are then left only with ourselves and of course GOD. 

But, if this is true, why there is seemed to be a perfect synchronization with the rest of us. Why there is no conflict between you and me when we talk about Green color? The answer lies in the consistency of our SOUL in interpreting the physical information. With the given wavelength, our SOUL always tells us, be it 20 years ago or 5 minutes ago, it is Green. Since childhood, our parents have been telling us this is Green and that is Red and we live with that for the rest of our life. 

But such synchronization is not verification in its strict sense, it just means that we are progressing in the same paradigm because we have agreed upon the axiom “That is Green and that is Red” and never once we doubt it, hence the prevailing of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem. 

So if all these are true, what is the implication? The implication is, while we live in the same world, but in my world the sky is blue and in yours, the sky maybe red. It sounds a bit scary, isn't? Haha..But should we verify this? NO, because as I said, there is no way we can do that and NO, because we must never doubt the accepted axioms else we can no longer be in the same paradigm, meaning we can no longer be together, anymore. 

Another implication of this is that, it limits the deterministic nature of science because science is the knowledge deduced from our five senses. A fact in science or theory as we call it, is a tested hypothesis and since we have argued that we can only test or measure only so much, then science itself must be limited. But do not get me wrong, I am not saying that sciences and maths are wrong, but all I am saying is, if they are right or correct, such a correctness must only be accepted in a very limited domain, that is in the domain which is measurable and of course in accordance to the earlier accepted axioms. "Seeing is not believing" after all and there is totally "something more than what meets the eyes". But having said this, we can not easily brush off any ideas of science simply because it does not fit us, as this is really a matter of how deep we really know about science itself. If we want to against any proposal in science, we still got to do it in its own paradigm; you got to fight it fire against fire. I am not to elaborate on this here because I have written about in a previous entry. Those who are interested can refer to it by clicking HERE.

And how all these from Islamic perspective? The way I see it as a Muslim, this is when we the concept of Iman comes into play. In the time when nothing can be verified, we are lucky to have the ultimate truth sent by Allah that is Al-Quran and in Al-Quran, is therefore we must just believe and beriman

I believe the last two paragraphs above are in a close agreement with those by Imam Al-Ghazalli's. Wallahhualam.

Monday, 18 June 2012


 Gambar: Abdus Salam, late professor at Imperial College and the only Muslim Nobel Laurette in Physics

Sekarang ni hujung semester serta hujung tahun pengajian, jadi ramai la student yang berkira-kira samada nak sambung belajar atau  tidak. Yang habis undergraduate consider nak sambung Masters, dan yang dah habis masters, ramai yang berfikir nak sambung PHD. Dalam memikirkan dilemma ini, aku terlintas nak menulis tentang apa itu PHD.

PHD is nothing but a learning process or training; not more than that. It trains you to have scientific mind and attitude. It is a learning process where you learn how to learn by yourself. You are taught how to read, how to make comparison and to criticize for the sake of progressing, how to have a formalized workflow so as to have valid and verified deductions and most important of all, how to conclude, to predict, to project, to reason and to decide. Last but not least, you are taught how to disperse all the knowledge you have deduced throughout the 'world' by writing (most of all) and by other types of communication  i.e. conferences, debates etc. Basically, it trains you to become a philosopher.

And like any other process or training, at the end of the day (if you succeed), you will be granted with a license; a piece of paper that bears your name with the title Doctor of Philosophy in front of it. Once conferred, you will be called Dr. from thereon.

So, since PHD is just a training which once finished one will get a 'license', obviously it is just a beginning. Ia adalah satu permulaan untuk seseorang itu 'menjadi guru' both  to himself/herself and others (graduate students). Sebenarnya, senang untuk kita memahami sistem ini jika kita mengetahui bahawa sistem pengajian sebegini adalah ditiru oleh orang Barat sewaktu era perang salib dulu dari sistem Talaqi atau sistem pengajian Tariqah (Sufism) antara seorang 'Syeikh' dan 'murid'. Dalam sistem ini juga, Syeikh akan mengijazahkan Murid nya yang kemudian bermaksud Muridnya telah lulus untuk menjadi Syeikh dan layak untuk mempunyai muridnya sendiri.

Since it is just a beginning, seorang yang habis PHD sepatutnya bekejar-kejar untuk membaca buku, berfikir, mengajar, menulis, berdebat, mengeluar dan mempertahankan idea dan yang paling penting melaksanakan idea tersebut. Analoginya macam orang baru dapat lesen kereta, mahu di 'drive' nya kereta bapak dari johor ke perlis, pergi balik. Dan macam pemandu kereta, lagi lama kita bawak kereta tu, the better we are getting as a driver and most importantly, we will never stop driving sampai la mati. So, as a PHD, sampai mati la patutnya kita membaca, berfikir, berdebat dan ber 'idea'.

If PHD is just a training, tak perlulah cuma orang yang pandai sahaja buat kan? Theorically YES provided kita tak di 'limit' kan oleh tempoh pengajian. Ini kerana, definisi kepandaian itu sendiri adalah "kadar berapa cepat seseorang itu untuk faham dan mengeksploit apa yang telah difahami". Kita boleh faham apa yang Einstein faham, cuma bezanya mungkin jika Einstein faham sesuatu dalam masa sebulan, kita pula 10 tahun baru dapat faham.

So, since tempoh PHD sekarang telah di 'limit' kan dikebanyakan negara kepada 4-7 tahun, nak tak nak, at least kita kena 'cukup pandai' untuk habis dalam tempoh tersebut. Masalahnya, untuk tesis PHD kita diluluskan, the work must be a siginificant contribution to the present state of knowledge. Dalam bahasa melayunya, kita mesti memberikan sumbangan baru yang besar kepada ilmu sejagat sedia ada. Kata lainnya, kita mesti tahu sesuatu yang manusia lain belum tahu lagi dan ianya mesti 'besar' atau significant. Itulah pulak cabarannya.

Sebelum aku akhiri artikel ni, aku nak nyatakan yang I see a group of PHD holders of a society like a special force of that society, an elite group like a group of 'commando' yang tugasnya adalah untuk memastikan kesinambungan kewujudan dan kemajuan society tersebut. So, bukannya kecik-kecik anak amanahnya jika kita adalah seorang PHD. The whole society mengharapkan kita to be at the frontline to lead the society into the new frontier. Kalau society mengsandarkan pada tentera diperbatasan dari segi keselamatan, begitu la juga society mengsandarkan harapan pada kita dari segi kemajuan, kesinambungan dan jatuh-bangunnya sesuatu masyarakat, negara dan ummah.

Yang membezakan antara dua societies atau dua negara adalah berapa effectivenya group of PHD atau scholars yang mereka ada. Lagi ramai, lagi pandai dan lagi aktif PHD/scholars of a society, the greater that society will be as compared to the other. Wallahualam.