Monday, March 22


I'm still thinking. Reading. Trying to decide.
It's not going to be easy dealing with Qwertyuiop.
As a teacher, I have to teach it.
As a Muslim, I need to be careful at what I'm delivering to my students.
I've to answer before Allah.
And I need to use the most appropriate approach, without scaring the students [nahh, they won't be anyway] and without making them superstitious [but most likely they already are].
As I've said, it's not easy dealing with Qwertyuiop.

Qwertyuiop is not a person.
It's the title of a short story introduced this year under the new literature component for Form 4 students.
It's a story about a young lady and a ghost.
She communicated with the ghost using an electric typewriter, and using only her determination and intelligence, finally succeeded in persuading it to leave her office.
So tell me, how do you teach and analyse this story and its characters, which one of them is a ghost to a class of teenagers, who are already being fed with ghost movies, tahyul beliefs, syirik customs, etc ?
God help me, I don't want to make the situation worse by encouraging these easily-influenced teens to start believing that one can communicate with dead people, and in the 'special power of the ghosts'.
Don't ask me why they, those at the ministry, chose this story to be used as part of the English language literature component for upper secondary students. I'm only following orders.
Sure, the story is interesting. Students won't find it boring.
But... will all the teachers be able to impart the necessary moral values to their students, while dealing with the sensitivity/ fear/ taboo of ghosts in our Malaysian community?
I'm hoping for the best.
Not all English teachers who are going to teach this story [this year] will have the opportunity to go for special courses, and even if we do, I doubt this issue will be dealt with constructively. I might be accused of being hypersensitive over an 'insignificant issue'.
I'm learning all I can about this topic of ghosts in Islamic teachings so that I'd be able to answer any of the students' questions and comments through the Islamic point of view.
Reading this, this, this and this, doesn't help. I can inform my students, especially the Muslims, that they shouldn't believe that a dead person can return as a ghost but they'd be asking, " then why, teacher.. are we reading this story? [ go ask the officers at the ministry?]. Or shall I say," Oh, the Westerners believe in ghosts but we shouldnt?"
The last thing I want is for my Muslim students to start believing in ghosts and God forbid, have a seance to experience meeting a ghost themselves!

What do you think? a synopsis of that story : here


  1. Well, it is literature, correct? Why don't you use this opportunity to allow your students a glimpse into the psyche and lifestyle of people from other part of the world? This could help undo some of their perception of Western life as proposed by Holywood? Could it be that the supernatural is a metaphor of life for the character?

    It is, after all, a fiction. Students do understand that vampires don't sparkle (or exist) and that there are no Hogwarts (even though there are university students who played a version of Quidditch). Don't worry, they can be shown that fiction should not affect your aqidah, but instead used as entertainment and a tool to build their linguistic prowess.

  2. salam cikgu Aliya,
    just a suggestion,
    how about interpreting the ghost as her own fear? or you can introduce the concept of paranoia...

    all the best!

  3. Assalamualaikum Sis,

    It thought its the first line of alphabets on the keyboard. :D

    I think its a good chance to deliver this:-

    1. There is no such thing as ghost. We call it as ghost because we could not see and understand it.

    2. There are many things we cannot see. This includes the angels, syaitan, jinns etc...

    3. All the things we can see and all the things we cant see is created by Allah S.W.T.

    4. As a creation our self, there is no reason to be scared to the unseen (including what we call as ghost).

    5. We should be scared of Allah S.W.T. rather than His creations. Or we should be more worried about hell fire than ghost.

    Should also explain the Islamic knowledge about what happen after we die / what happen to our roh after we die. Compare it with other religion or other culture. It will be interesting.

  4. Waalaikumussalam Snuze, drwati, ahong,
    Check out the story here :

    Thanks for your suggestions. Yes, it's the first line of alphabets in the typewriter/keyboard. It's a story about a young lady who had to deal with a ghost who communicated with her through the typewriter, and wants her to quit her job at the office. Nothing scary, but still there's the strong element of humans being able to communicate with ghosts.[there's no such things as ghosts and the ability to communicate with dead souls in Islamic beliefs, and to believe so is sinful, isn't it?]
    Personally, I think my kampung students don't even know about vampires and hogwarts, hehe. Unfortunately fiction does affect us psychologically - being afraid to stay alone at night after watching a ghost movie?

    drwati, am afraid not. The ghost really exists in the story, and it's not the character's

    ahong, Yes I hope to do 2-5 as you've suggested. It's no 1 that I think most people in our society already believe, and this story, unfortunately, will strengthen that belief.

  5. Reminds me of the many times when I have to explains things that are 'not real' to my 4 and 2 year old kids, even simple ones like, kenapa binatang kat dalam cerita tv tu boleh bercakap. I'd say 'bukan betul-betul, konon-konon je'. Like snuze said, afterall it's fiction. I guess the first thing to ascertain is whether they understand the concept of fiction (or 'konon-konon' in my kids language) or not.

  6. assalamualaikum.. kan iblis dan syaitan itu wujud. mereka adalah makhluk allah jua. mengikut buku 'hidup bersyariat', manusia adalah hanya 1% daripada jumlah makhluk allah di muka bumi allah ini. teach ur students to accept their existence but not to be afraid and befriend with them.

    ghost is just a name...stories created by men is nothing compared to qur'an and sunnah. while teaching literature components maybe u should not only instill the moral values but also the islamic values reflected based on the stories.

    selemah2 iman adalah menolak dengan hati...

  7. I had difficulties when I needed to explain the poem by shakespear.."Life's a brief candle....".
    I finally decided to tell them the isn't as meaningless as a brief candle...

  8. Salam tenang_aku,

    Sememangnya Iblis dan Syaitan itu wujud tapi dalam kes ini, kita kena ambik kira konteks penggunaan perkataan 'hantu' dalam cerita tu. Ini kerana jika hantu itu hanyalah iblis dan syaitan maka mudah untuk diterangkan kepada pelajar.

    Dalam konteks ini, hantu itu ialah roh manusia yang mati yang kemudiannya balik ke alam dunia kita. Sepatutnya bila mati ke alam kubur dah. Dalam kes ini, manusia yang masih hidup di muka bumi ini dapat berkomunikasi dengan roh si mati itu.

    Inilah kesukaran dalam literature baru ni. Nak terapkan pasal agama pun susah sebab ceritanya memang bertentangan dengan agama. Tapi saya yakin dengan cikgu2 yg ada dan mampu untuk memberikan penerangan yang sebaiknya bagi pelajar.

  9. Waalaikumussalam Mynie, az,
    A short survey conducted among my Form4 students revealed that 100% believe in ghosts although they haven't seen one. Ghost=hantu=hantu raya,pocong,hantu galah,toyol,langsuir,etc.Thanks to ghost stories, dramas, movies and books [which are fiction, by the way].
    tenang_aku, we don't befriend syaitan and iblis.

  10. Salam az,
    Shakespeare's 'life's brief candle' is a extract from the play Macbeth. It's the part when Macbeth has lost everything- his wife, his friends, his power, his followers - and he knew that he was going to be killed.
    Yes, you did right by explaining that we should despair, that life's not a brief candle.
    The new Literature component [poems] for Form 1 are easier to understand, aren't they?

  11. ahong,
    Thanks for your explanation.
    Ulama Islam menyatakan bahawa haram untuk umat Islam mempercayai bahawa manusia boleh berkomunikasi dengan orang yang telah meninggal dunia.
    Hantu, syaitan dan iblis semua dilonggokkan sekali... tahniah kepada pengaruh media massa yang mempopularkan kisah-kisah seram.
    Anda patut lihat wajah-wajah pelajar saya apabila saya menyatakan hal ini kepada mereka, huhu.
    Penolakan konsep hantu mengikut hukum Islam memang saya lakukan semasa pengajaran saya, tetapi adakah guru-guru lain.. terutama yang bukan Islam, turut melakukannya?

  12. Salaam sis,

    I don't envy what you have to do!

    But it is a good opportunity to quell all the misconceptions about the other world in Islam.

    There is just way too many horror movies (aren't our local screens just teeming with horror and horror and horror! Even during 'eid, naudhubillaah..), and not to mention all these horror books being sold, and novels for kids.

    the latest is the popular show on TV8. Ghost? So unislamic..

    May Allaah ease our affairs, ameen!

  13. Waalaikumussalam Rayhana,
    Am doing my best, insyaAllah.
    I don't watch all those horror dramas & movies on tv, especially now that I'm pregnant. A waste of time anyway. We call ourselves a Islamic nation but we feed the people with all those nonsense, ishh ishh ishh

  14. as salam ah hong... ada ulama yg berpendapat bahawa ada roh manusia yg 'terawang2' disebabbkan oleh 'beberapa' perkara... literature pada pendapat saya hanyalah satu element yang menhasilkan sesuatu kisah. bg menjawab apa saudara utarakan saya mencadangkan bahawa guru2 perlu menyatakan kebenaran...sebagai contoh jika ia berkisah ttg hantu dan kebolehan manusia berbicara dgn roh maka ceritakan lah apa yg tercatat di dalam buku itu. namun, 'kebenaran' seperti apa yg perlu diutarakan perlu diutarakan supaya pelajr tidak mempercayai dan takut dgn hantu.hantu dan roh ada bezanya sama spt ghost and spirit. insyaallah saya akan cuba hurai dlm blog saya ttg topic ini jika berkesampatan. trima ksih ah hong...

  15. I'm doing my thesis on this short is not wrong for us as an English teacher to taught this literature to the students. Eventhough it is wrong in our religion, but we have to think in literature way. don't mix up is our responsibility as a teacher to teach our students. so, literature is one way that we can make the student enjoy our learning.i'm also muslim, but i think in education way..(correct me if i wrong)

  16. tenang_aku,
    Masih menanti kemunculan artikel blog anda :)

  17. cha huhu,
    I've finished teaching QWERTYUIOP. Alhamdulillah the students are receptive, although they complain that the exam-based questions are tough, hehehe.
    As literature teachers, yes.. I agree that we should teach the text. However we have to be careful not to let the text influence them negatively, ie to encourage them to delve in the supernatural. I remember during my teen year, some friends tried to summon one by playing the ouija board and 'spirit of the coin'..and frightened themselves :P

  18. The spirit of the coin reminds me of the time when I in primary school. When we play I used to push the coin so they thought they were spirits moving the coin. :D

  19. thanx alia..yup, have to be careful in teaching the stories. i've believe the students will noticed it when they know the moral value of the stories, rite..hehehe..

  20. The moral of the stories? hahaha.. Teens hate when we tell them 'now the moral of the story is.." Having 5 periods of English lessons per week in secondary schools is just not enough!