Stuck in an Islamic time capsule

Developing Just Leadership

Kuala Lumpur Correspondent

Rabi' al-Awwal 27, 1418 1997-08-01

South-East Asia

by Kuala Lumpur Correspondent (South-East Asia, Crescent International Vol. 26, No. 11, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1418)

When one loses the arguments, he becomes incoherent. He talks about things which are out of this world or age, and of things which had no relevance or connections to the arguments in hand. This seems to be the case with some of our leaders stuck in an Islamic time capsule.

The Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, and his deputy, Anwar Ibrahim must have been greatly shocked at the “naivety” of the Selangor State Religious Department (JAIS) to use their “little power” believing all the Islamic rhetoric they pour out in Islamic forums. In a recent incident, the department arrested three Muslim beauty contestants on stage for being indecently dressed. Although the action was purely legal and within its power, Mahathir’s UMNO government appeared extremely uneasy. Mahathir and Anwar had recently expressed concern over the department’s action and called for “moderation in Islam”. “Religious officials should not use their little powers to merely arrest and handcuff those accused of breaking Islamic laws,” said Mahathir.

Mahathir and his deputy should know - everybody knows - that JAIS did the right thing. Even the victims of JAIS action, the beauty contestants themselves, had admitted that it was a blessing in disguise and they now realised the meaning of dignity in Islam. The entire Muslim community congratulated JAIS for at last taking a firm stand on issues which are of grave concern to the future of the Muslims in Malaysia. Faced with mounting problems of social ills and creeping ignorance and indifference to Islam among the youth, they at last picked up enough courage to do what they are supposed to do and they took the action and stood by it. The Muslims hope that it was a great beginning and in fact the Muslim youth are fully behind JAIS on this. But now Mahathir wants the religious departments to use their “little power” to go after the rapists and wife beaters and leave alone those who are indecently dressed in public places, the sources of moral corruption which ultimately lead to wife beating and rapes.

The chicken will definitely come to roost. As Mahathir claims, if one single billionaire could destabilise the economy and destroy “all the progress we have made” economically over the last 20 years within a week or a month, what will happen to the society in another 10 years time if it neglects societal morals? It will disintegrate.

In their confusion to please both the people and their real masters, shameful rubbish is spewed out of their mouth which to the tightly-controlled media are “ageless ideas”. Living in a time capsule they are blind to the fact that the world of Islam has made great strides in their self perception. Sadly, they still see the Muslim scholars (ulama) on the camel back. “The so called ulama are not always right ... a few insist that Muslims go back to the ways of the Prophet... they say we should ride camels and horses” argues Mahathir. Going back to the Prophet is twisted to mean riding camel as though the Prophet had nothing else to offer to the modern man.

Again imagine replacing the Qur’an with Bacaan (a translation of the Qur’an by that name in Malay language) and throw away Arabic. In an apparent attempt to belittle the Muslim scholars’ Arabic education, Mahathir blared out, - arrogantly, “I think I know enough about Islam. I studied Qur’an and read it many times. Of course I read and studied the Malay and English translations. Some people argue that this is not enough or not the right way because the Qur’an’s original language is Arabic.

“But I would like to ask them how did we accept Islam when the faith was first brought to our country more than a thousand [sic] years ago? Did we accept Islam because we believed what was told to us in the Malay language or merely because we like the Arabic sound used in the Quran? Had we waited to be fluent in Arabic, we would not have acceptd Islam so quickly and en masse.” He forgot some one must have been fluent in both Arabic and Malay before he got his Qur’an in the Malay language.

What sort of a `model Islamic state’ Mahathir has in mind without ulama and Arabic remains mysterious. What a shame, people building the model Islamic state does not know the meaning of the word ulama in Islam!

It is not true that Malaysia has gained respect as a model Islamic state. That is all the Malaysian media’s own invention. A model Islamic state is not what Washington and Tel Aviv approve of Islam. What is true is that Malaysia had the potential to be a model Islamic state, but that wonderful opportunity has been thrown into the dustbin. Instead, it has opted to be a faceless nation led by mindless people.

When they meet those who believe, they say, ‘We believe’; but when they go privily to their Satans, they say, `We are with you; we were only mocking.’ God shall mock them, and shall lead them on blindly wandering in their insolence [meaning of Qur’an 2:14-15].

Muslimedia - August 1-15, 1997

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