bingregoryZayn Gregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

All articles by bingregory

 

Memory


Continue reading...  

Review: The Way of Sufi Chivalry

Translated by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak Not about martial codes, but more of a guidebook on proper etiquette (adab) in Islam. The biggest focus was on the virtue of generosity. True
Continue reading...  

Review: Midnight’s Children

 by Salman Rushdie Could the Booker Prize have gone to a novel that treats three generations of an extended family but remains emotionally dead-flat aside from twin swellings of self-pity
Continue reading...  

Review: Ottoman Age of Exploration

By Giancarlo Casale. The Ottomans were very active throughout the Indian Ocean world during the 1500s despite having no access to or knowledge of the area at the beginning of
Continue reading...  

Daun Inai

Daun inai banyak getahnya, Ambil segenggam pewarna kuku, Wahai adik abang bertanya, Apa obat penawar rindu. Thick with sap run the henna’s leaves Take some in hand your nails for
Continue reading...  

Gurindam not dead: Gadis Jolobu

Nobody studies the old Gurindams anymore //
Better ask somebody, don’t act like you know …
Continue reading...  

Review: Going Postal

By Mark Ames Why do they hate America? Because there is a lot there to hate, says Mark Ames. Going Postal connects a lot of far-flung points to show the
Continue reading...  

Illegal Business

… Controls America. Proof emerging that the DEA cooperated with the Sinaloa Cartel to allow drugs into the US in exchange for intelligence against other cartels.  Which has got to
Continue reading...  

Batang jati kangkung

Kangkung, Ipomea aquatica, is a crawling vegetable with hollow stems, allowing it to float on the water, from whence it gets the name water spinach. There’s no relation – in
Continue reading...  

Three Pipers: Lada, Sirih, Kaduk

Black pepper is the quintessential spice of the Spice Route, the ancient trade routes across the Indian Ocean that have brought merchants and travelers to the Nusantara since antiquity. Pepper
Continue reading...  

American Nations: Review

Colin Woodward traces the origins of settlement in the United States to demonstrate that American attitudes, values and politics are highly regional and perpetuate over time. This basis for this
Continue reading...  

Knowledge of Self

Theodore W. Allen (1919-2005) told me where white people come from. We like to think we know who we are, and indeed many things about ourselves we can easily define:
Continue reading...  

Awal Muharram

The first day of the Islamic New Year is a national holiday in Malaysia, but it usually passes unremarked. This year, the State Mosque decided to host a day of
Continue reading...  

Gurindam 12 Fasal 4

The 12 Gurindam of Raja Ali Haji ___________________________ This is the Gurindam of the fourth issue: Ini gurindam pasal yang keempat: The heart over the body rules all; if it
Continue reading...  

Guidance and Error

Driving through the city last month, I was nearly out of gas. With a 2 and a half hour daily commute, it happens a lot and I tend to ride
Continue reading...  

Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

by Mohsin Hamed. Changez’s personal journey of transformation and the conflicts driving it were believable enough I guess, but not particularly dramatic or striking (and lacking almost entirely in fundamentalism).
Continue reading...  

Gurindam 12 Fasal 3

The 12 Gurindam of Raja Ali Haji

This is the gurindam of the third issue:
When we guard the eyes,
Idle fantasy is …
Continue reading...  

No God But God

And Reza Aslan is the author. Tight composition, fast pacing, authoritative tone: it’s no surprise it was a bestseller.  Of politics and history it is a good introduction for the
Continue reading...  

Universalising Islam in Malaysia

by Hew Wai Weng in the Malay Mail [Full Text]. “In the past, ethnic Chinese who became Muslims were assumed to lose their Chinese cultural identity and become “Malay”. The recent
Continue reading...  

Gurindam 12 Fasal 2

The 12 Gurindam of Raja Ali Haji This is the gurindam of the second issue. Whosoever grasps what follows here Must know the true meaning of fear. Whosoever neglects the
Continue reading...  

Gurindam 12 Fasal 1

This is the gurindam of the first issue:

Whosoever to his faith holds not
Is a man whose name will be forgot …
Continue reading...  

Three Ways to be Alien: Review

By Sanjay Subrahmanyam Three very interesting lives in interesting moments of history. The author assumes a specialist’s level of background knowledge. I would have preferred a lot less academic argument and
Continue reading...  

Sarawak Bonsai Competition

Wandering into the Hills mall to get haircuts for my five girls, I stumbled upon the last day of the 10th Sarawak Bonsai Competition!  I only had my handphone in
Continue reading...  

Hari Raya 2013

Selamat Hari Raya!  Eid Mubarak!  Happy Holidays, everybody!  May the fasting and the prayers during the blessed month of Ramadan be accepted from us and from you and may Allah
Continue reading...  

Ramadan in Malaysia

“Ramadan through the eyes of foreigners in Malaysia” :: Borneo Post. I’m one of the foreigners interviewed.  The article also ran in Bahasa Malaysia as “Ramadan Menerusi Kaca Mata Warga
Continue reading...  

Review: Crusades through Arab Eyes

by Amin Maalouf  Not only did our troops not shrink from eating dead Turks and Saracens; they also ate dogs! Documentation of rampant cannibalism among the Franj comes from the
Continue reading...  

Habib Nuh Al-Habshi

By Abu Muhammad of Bahrus Shofa. Photography & English translation by Bin Gregory Productions It is related that Kiyai Agung Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah as-Suhaimi BaShaiban made a regular daily  practice of
Continue reading...  

Temasek: saints past and present

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani swept through Southeast Asia this summer, traveling back and forth between Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, in the company of renowned nasheed singer Habib Syech Abdul Qodir Assegaf from
Continue reading...  

Cot Melukut

Cot melukut Berambang gantang. Mana tikus ‘nyorok? Celah kangkang! A popular nursery rhyme for youngsters. Begin by poking the bottom of the kid’s foot, then race up their leg to
Continue reading...  

Raffles: Invasion of Java

Raffles & the British Invasion of Java by Tim Hannigan The book covers a fascinating, obscure moment in colonial history: the launching of Stamford Raffles’ career with the five-year invasion
Continue reading...  

A poem by Antonio Machado

Traveler the path is your footprints and nothing more Traveller, there is no path You make the path by walking When walking you make the path And when you turn
Continue reading...  

Tall Coconuts & Their Harvestation


Continue reading...  

Removal of Confusion: Review

by Ibrahim ibn Abd-Allah Niasse A basic treatise and theological defense of sufism and its practices; fine, but not much different from a lot of similar material available from other
Continue reading...  

Two Murrayas

Black on black stack mangosteens
Pity the kemuning as its flowers fall
My dark-skinned beauty is sweet to behold
A light-skinned woman is …
Continue reading...  

A Short History of Malaysia

 by Virginia Matheson Hooker. Straightforward introduction to Malaysian history; key individuals, important dates, broadest themes. It feels comparable in depth to what I remember of high school US History class.
Continue reading...  

Third Coffee

Coffee beans spread upon a tray Jasmine blooms on the ledge do rest I’ve been dreaming till break of day My sweetheart sleeping upon my chest “Buah kopi di atas loyang Kembang
Continue reading...  

The Jungle is Neutral: Review

The Jungle is Neutral, by F. Spencer Chapman The memoir of a British lieutenant in WWII Malaya who conducts guerilla warfare against the Japanese. It’s not a very gripping story.
Continue reading...  

The Road to Mecca: Review

The Road to Mecca by Muhammad Asad Asad lived an amazing life which he describes beautifully. Meetings with future kings of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iran before their ascension, espionage
Continue reading...  

Ambil galah jolok keranji

Pulasan grows at branch’s end Harvest keranji with a wooden rod O Man! Do not seek to be praised. Know that all praise belongs only to God. Ambil galah jolok
Continue reading...  

Malay Garment Technology

ast weekend featured the most exciting Malaysian cultural event I’ve heard of in a long time:  a flash mob of people wearing sarongs descended on the LRT lines in Kuala
Continue reading...  

Husbandry

Husbandry has been on my mind.  Hijabman has returned to blogging with a focus on his role as house-husband to his growing family.  An admirable occupation and one to which
Continue reading...  

Of Dukes and Datuks

Malaysia has a peerage system comparable in some respects to what is practiced in the UK, whereby Malaysians of common origins can be conferred a non-hereditary title of honor by
Continue reading...  

KL Bird Park

Two of my three amazing and talented sisters came to visit last year. It was a good excuse for us to do some touristy things in the capitol. We met
Continue reading...  

Hold Fast

To God was his call, and those who hold fast to him hold fast to a rope that shall never break. Baginda mengajak umat ke jalan Allah. Maka sesiapa yang
Continue reading...  

Unbelievable Advice

    One day Mullah Nasruddin entered his favorite teahouse and declared, “The moon is more useful than the sun”. An old man asked, “Why Mullah?” Mullah Nasruddin replied, “Because
Continue reading...  

The Year in Chickens

The last two weeks saw a number of milestones pass for me.  20 years as a muslim. 10 years in Malaysia. 10 years running this website.  6 years of keeping
Continue reading...  

International Poetry Translated

If you’ve enjoyed my feeble attempts to translate Malay poems and songs over the years, perhaps you’d like the Poetry Translation Centre.  Contemporary poets of Asia, Africa and South America
Continue reading...  

Glyphs of Warding, Icons of Doom

I got in a car accident a while ago.  Everybody’s fine, no injuries at all; quite a blessing considering I had the entire family in the van.  A trio of
Continue reading...  

Why Most Mass Murderers are White Men

“White men from prosperous families grow up with the expectation that our voices will be heard. We expect politicians and professors to listen to us and respond to our concerns.
Continue reading...  

On Flunking a Nice Boy Out of School

A mimeograph of John Ciardi’s poem was waiting on each boy’s desk as we took our seats for the first class on the first day of 7th grade at the
Continue reading...