Islam and the Malay Mindset: What Went Wrong?

by M. Bakri Musa

This was the topic for a small group discussion at a recent seminar organized by Kelab UMNO New York/New Jersey. I was a passive participant at this dialogue, at least initially.

In the ensuing discussions, the students duly reaffirmed the greatness of Islam, citing many ready examples. Islam emancipated the ancient Bedouins out of their Age of Jahilliyah (Ignorance), and did it all within a generation. Islam then spread as far westward as Andalusia and eastward right up to China. In the process Islam inspired and created great civilizations and empires that lasted till at least the early part of the last century.

After over 1400 years however, Islam (at least the physical empire, though not the faith) was done in by European colonialism. With colonialism’s ending, there was a quick resurgence of Islam. Today it is the faith of a quarter of the world’s population, and fast growing.

Islam has been part of the Malay world for well over half a millennium. It is very much an integral part of our “Malayness” such that the statutory definition of a Malay is tied to the faith. Our embrace of Islam remains firm if not enhanced, despite being under complete Western (specifically British) colonial domination for a good portion of the time.

With the resurgence of Islam, Malays like Muslims everywhere yearn for the return of those earlier glorious days. Thus far that is all there is to it – just a yearning; much of the Muslim world remains tragically mired in poverty, with its citizens deprived of their basic human dignity and rights.

In Malaysia, the achievement gaps between Malays and non-Malays continue to widen despite the political leadership and public institutions being dominated by Malays. This glaring disparity remains a continuous source of communal angst, triggering more than just a few occasions of mass “acting out” behaviors as keris wielding and shrill calls for Ketuanan Melayu.

Why is Islam unable to emancipate Malays as it did the ancient Bedouins? What went wrong? Being true believers, the students rightly asserted that there is nothing wrong with this great faith, rather with our understanding – and thus practice – of it.

We are obsessed with rituals at the expense of appreciating the essence of Islam, the students observed. The universal message of Islam is lost with the associated Arabism, they continued. We are consumed in being Arabs, or at least aping them in the belief that it is the same thing as being Islamic or pious.

In teaching our young we are too preoccupied with being punitive and not enough with being positive. When they are naughty or grab a toy from another child, we would admonish them by saying that God would punish them by burning them in hell. Such concepts are beyond the comprehension of young minds, except to imprint on them horror-filled images of suffering and torture.

A more understandable and thus effective way would be to teach those children to imagine how they would feel if someone were to steal their toys. Such an approach would also be an excellent way to impart upon them the Golden Rule, to do unto others what you want done to you, a basic precept in all faiths.

We make our young recite and even memorize the Quran at a very early age without expending commensurate time and effort in teaching them the meaning or significance of those verses in our every day lives. We have reduced this great religion to a series of rituals instead of being a guide to a “total way of life” that is righteous, pleases Allah, and leads to a harmonious society. We pray, fast, pay our tithe, and undertake the pilgrimage but then go right ahead and accept bribes, neglect our jobs, and ignore our families and society.

We go to great lengths avoiding pork and improperly slaughtered chicken and cows, rightly considering them haram, but we have no compulsion in accepting bribes or neglecting our duties.

The students did a credible job of societal self-introspection. As they were summarizing their conclusions to present to the larger group, I enquired how we as a society have strayed from the central message of Islam. More relevantly, how could we rediscover the essence of Islam so that it too would do for us what it did for the ancient Arabs?

Taqlid, Bidaa, and Tajdid

Taqlid and bidaa are two central concepts in the learning and transmission of Islam. Taqlid refers to following the teachings of those more learned and pious than and before us. Specifically, it refers to adhering to the practices of one of the established schools of jurisprudence or mahdhab.

The Arabic root of the word means to place a collar around the neck, as we would to guide an animal. The operative word there is “guide,” to lead us along the straight path.

Malay villagers however, do not put a collar around our kerbau (buffalo) rather a ring through its nose. It serves the same purpose, and more. For in addition to leading the animal we also effectively control it.

Therein lies the problem. Does taqlid mean letting us be guided or be controlled? Is taqlid a collar slung loosely around our neck to nudge us to the left or right as a rein to a horse, or a ring pierced through our nose as with our kerbau? There is a vast difference between paying deference to precedents (as lawyers and judges do) versus being held captive by them. If it were the latter, slavery would still be legal in America.

Likewise with bidaa; with every khutba the Imam would duly warn the flock of the awesome Hellfire that awaits those who would dare engage in bidaa. Invariably the word is translated as “innovation.” “Innovation” means more than just change; it implies change for the better, and thus something commendable and to strive for. Bidaa obviously does not mean innovation; it is closer to corruption or adulteration, hence the dire warning against partaking in it!

My point here was to sensitize the students to the potential treacherous trap in interpreting the meaning of words especially where translations were involved. Such dangers exist even without translations, as words can change their meanings and connotations over time. During the prophet’s time for example, poets were held in low regard, as clearly stated in some Quranic verses, as they used their talent to mock the prophet.

Thus when a religious scholar quotes a verse from the Quran or hadith and then confidently assert with such certitude, “And the verse means … ,” that belies an arrogant mindset, impervious to reasons and intolerant of differing interpretations. A more humble and also accurate way would be to add the proviso, “When approximately translated.” Translations are at best approximate and provisional.

Our Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w., anticipated this erosion and corruption of the faith, as had happened to earlier revelations to other prophets before him. Hence the Quranic references to the appearance of a “prophet amongst us every hundred years” to renew the faith by getting rid of the inevitable accretions of extraneous practices and beliefs that would inevitably develop over time. “Prophet” here of course means “leader,” as to Muslims Muhammad, s.a.w, was the Last Prophet.

This concept of renewal or tajdid is a long established tradition in Islam. However, we cannot have renewal if we remain a slave to precedents, or if we consider every change a bidaa or an affront to taqlid. Islam has never been short of reformers, right from the first rightly-guided caliphs to the rationalists Mutazilites and many modern-day reformers. Like reformers in other faith, some have paid dearly for their attempts.

America with its freedom provides fertile ground for the renewal of Islam. America is also fortunate in having many brilliant Islamic scholars who have been driven away from their native land for their innovative ideas. To their folks back home, these reformers are engaging in bidaa, a mortal sin.

We are also fortunate in America to have the freedom to explore the rich and varied traditions of our faith. In Malaysia you could be detained under the ISA for reading Shiite literature! To put that in perspective, that is the same punishment if you were to engage in subversive or communist activities. Add to that the favorite past time of our leaders: banning books and restricting speakers! That ring through our noses can be very restricting!

What went Right

To end the students’ discussion on a positive note, I asked them to consider the flip side of their query, to ponder what went right. I nudged them to imagine what would have happened had Islam not landed on our shores.

One student reacted with horror at that prospect as we would then still have our animist ways and Hindu beliefs. At which point I enquired whether the Balinese (who are racially Malays) are somehow inferior to us because they are not Muslims. Or for that matter the Protestant Bataks in Sumatra.

As that seemed to dampen the discussion, I volunteered that there are many things that went right with Islam and Malays. Seeing it strictly from my professional perspective, I am glad that Malays are Muslims. When I was a surgeon in Malaysia, I never saw a single case of alcohol-related injuries among Malays. Before America had its strict drunk driving laws, a large part of my work as a surgeon was to repair the horrible damages wrecked by drunks. In the Philippines, alcohol-related crimes and injuries are rampant.

I wish our Quran would have similar explicit prohibitions against drugs and corruption as it does against alcohol!

On a higher level, Islam introduced the written word to our world. Once a society adopted a written culture, there is a quantum lap in its intellectual development. Yes, before the arrival of Arabic Malays had Sanskrit, but that was a dead language. Many of the ancient Malay literature are adaptations of stories from the Middle East, and our language borrows heavily from Arabic.

On that positive note we ended the discussion. What went wrong is not with Islam rather how we have missed the essence of this great faith in our obsession with its peripherals.

December 21, 2008

  1. #1 by oedipus on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 9:11 am

    well there are many so called ‘christians’ out there that do not behave like christians (maybe they behave more like animals) but thats the thing with religion. its not always professing and proclaiming, its more to living right, understanding and committing your life to that faith.

    judge a person by his/her deeds. not skin colour, faith that one ‘professes’ or anything else.

    merry Christmas guys!

  2. #2 by RGRaj on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 9:21 am

    Is it really nesessary for a Malay to be a Muslim? They used to be Hindus during historic times & I don’t remember them being drunk or involved in any other kinds of bad deeds then.

  3. #3 by OrangRojak on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 9:43 am

    That’s why we all love confident assertion – they’re so … confident and so … assertive. Who could fail to be impressed? So if Islam hadn’t come to Malaysia, it would have been like Bali? Oh, the horror! It’s a good job you were there with your confident assertions, the students may have reached a different conclusion!

  4. #4 by hadi on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 9:56 am

    The problem of Islam in Malaysia-you have to ask UMNO. It is their interpretation that lead into current religious belief in Malaysia and to make thing more confuse they introduce Islam Hadhari.
    So nobody should talk about religion be it Islam, Christianity, Buddhist, Hinduism or what ever religion of the world unless you understand the real issue but it doesn’t stop anyone to query the truth as you know only in GOD we thrust.
    So, don’t get confuse with the religious issue but get the nation moving forward and progress as the first world nation in all areas-materially and spiritually.

  5. #5 by wanderer on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 9:58 am

    Greed and corruption!
    Islam is a good religion if practised truly. In Bolehland, we have the pretenders of Islam that took advantage of their political power, thus,
    twisting this once a great religion. Ordinary malays are coned by these so called pious politicians…just for their own agenda.

  6. #6 by ch on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 10:25 am

    Dear All,

    We have to accept the fact that all religions espouse good teachings to its followers. Having said that, all religions also expose that there is always a good and a bad side i.e. God and Satan. Humans are always caught in the middle i.e. between doing good and evil, although the broad aspect of their upbringing is to do good than evil. In summary, it is all up to the individual, whether to do good or evil. But having said that, one must also understand and take into consideration of the circumstances the person is in at the verge of doing good or evil as every action taken is for the good or betterment of the person despite knowing the full weight of his/her action. For example, a policeman knows very well that accepting a bribe for a minor offence is a crime under human and God’s laws. However, considering that he has five children and a non-working wife to feed, unpaid bills and extremely short of money for self-entertainment, the policeman may think that is ok in accepting since the person is truthful in giving out the bribe. By doing so, there are policeman who may also think that he has been placed in such a situation by God to stop the offender as well as sorting out his monetary problem or to test his will. Whether is right or wrong, we have been given adequate religious and civic teachings in order to make the right decision. Is all up to us and we are answerable to God.

    My humble view.

  7. #7 by k1980 on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 11:05 am

    7 out of the top 10 failed states are Islamic. Something is very wrong somewhere. Politics and religion cannot be mixed or else chaos will take over.

    1 Somalia
    2 Sudan
    3 Zimbabwe
    4 Chad
    5 Iraq
    6 Democratic Republic of the Congo
    7 Afghanistan
    8 Côte d’Ivoire
    9 Pakistan
    10 Central African Republic

  8. #8 by manusia ada akal on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 11:38 am

    A hunger for knowledge is one of the recipes for success. During the acquiring stage comes the investigation stage whereby, the pertinent result to look for is, “Does it make sense.” That knowledge must make sense to you, then only you embrace it without reservation. Remember you always have a choice and it is yours to make. To practice good ethics is a universally accepted by all.

  9. #9 by malaysia-united on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 11:43 am

    Believing is ‘God’ and follow what ‘God’ told us to do is really superstition. I mean, all ‘God’ were man-made, real ‘God’ will not teach us what to do. Instead He had provided us a brain to discover ourself what is the law of the universe. We all agree that we have a brain, and our brain (intelligent) is enough for us to do anything, such as building spaceship, internet… including the laws that are practise thoughout the world. Why must put the politics (essence of our intelligent) together with religion (‘essence’ of ancient people)???

  10. #10 by zak_hammaad on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 11:46 am

    It is a well-known fact within Muslim academia that the reason for the pitiful flight of the Muslims around the world today is related to the unwillingness of the Muslim majority to return back to the faith they claim to adhere to (i.e. Islam) in its entirety. It is common knowledge that what will give victory to the Muslims today is what gave it victory over 1,400 years ago, in terms of knowledge, faith and practise of it. The Qu’ranic injunctions speaking of the causes of loss and humiliation is also not hidden from the discerning readership from the Muslim or non-Muslims.

  11. #11 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 12:02 pm

    The problem with Muslims in Bolehland is that many of them see Islam as the only true religion and all other religions are false and inferior and they therefore avoid interactions with the believers of other faiths. Indeed, many Muslims here see Islam as the only religion that matters and other religions are of no importance.

    Herein lies the problem. With such mindset, how can we ever have dialogues between Muslims and non-Muslims if the Muslims can only see their religion as the only right one while the others are inferior and therefore inconsequential?

    I am reminded of a “dialogue” between the various religions that was held at a local university earlier this year. The Muslim participants could only present their views and stands and were unimpressed with the presentations from other religions. Sad to say it was very one sided – they presented the Muslim position and expect the believers of other faiths to follow and respect them if not to kow-tow to them. To them Islam was above all. Needless to say, the “dialogue” was a fiasco where no interaction or discussion was possible. The Islamic position is the only correct one and was / is not to be challenged, debated or criticised even if they appear harsh and unreasonable because its God’s law and must not be questioned in any way as God is perfect.

    Frequently, Muslims often say that non-Muslims have no right and are not competent to comment on their religion and any comment is seen as an “attack” on Islam.

    This belief of Islamic supremacy is the biggest stumbling block in Muslim and non-Muslims interactions especially in this country.

    Is this why the Muslims, only the Muslims, refuses to participate in the proposed Interfaith Commission (the Hadhari PM had to abandon it under severe pressure) as they see Islam as superior and the only correct religion and to participate in dialogues and discussions with others would be demeaning their religion?

    Unless Muslims can remove this “superiority” complex and fixed mental states, dialogues and discussions would hardly be possible with already closed minds.

  12. #12 by wesuffer on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 12:19 pm

    why we non-musliim so worry about hudud law..?
    1stly PAS should give education to non-muslim what ,how and when to using hudud law to guilty person ? i believe all non muslim not understand about hudud law. i heard my colleague from muslim.
    they explain some to me. they said hudud law should not applicable to all criminer and not mean stolen have to chop hand , cos they want atleast 4 witness if not he/she will only to jail term .
    anyway. if we are clean all times. why we worry hudud??

  13. #13 by ablastine on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 12:19 pm

    I wonder what will happen to the prophet if God send him down to Malaysia today to realign teachings of Islam and those who has gone astray. I think the prophet will end up having to do his good work in the Kamunting ISA camp the rest of his life. Question the teachings of islam and its practice today in Malaysia. You must be joking me.

  14. #14 by malaysia-united on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 12:35 pm

    Well said Sheriff, in fact it don’t just happen on bolehland, it happen in all the islamic countries as well. ‘Intolerent’ is the word in my heart. I afraid I had make many muslim feel angry by now but i do hope that they can openly receive any comment and think about it. Sorry…

    Dear theist brothers, as a free thinker, i dont see any religion is superior than any other religions. but judge a person by it’s deeds. no matter you are muslim, christian, hindus or buddhist, if you are a criminal, u r. if u r a intollerent person, u r. if u behave biadap, u r. religion cant make your bad deeds become a good one. not in the name of god…

  15. #15 by bobiee on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 1:29 pm

    This is a very interesting topic – Muslims and Islam. Can some learned, pious and authoritative soul answer me here ….. Muslims believe in four holy books – Al Quran, Psalm of David, Torah and the Gospel. The four gospel in the holy bible explicitly say that Jesus is the Son of God; but Muslims say that Jesus is just a prophet, not the Son of God. It is a blasphemy to say that God begat a son. Based on this scenario the gospel should not be accepted by Muslims. As it is now the gospel is accepted by Muslims. Can somebody explain this paradox, confusion or dilemma?
    What is the best explanation here?

  16. #16 by malaysia-united on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 2:01 pm

    Hi ablastine, if today God send us a prophet, He will end up not only in Kamunting, but in hospital bahagia…

  17. #17 by Loh on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 5:48 pm

    All religions are great, to their believers. A religion loses its greatness in the region where the people untilize it for political purposes. One should take the teaching of a rligion as guiding light for living, and the greatness of the religion is the collective outcome of the behaviours of followers.

    Religion may be likened as a river; the flow is contributed from the tributaries, which sometimes carry with it polutants. The river cannot be clean if the sources are not.

  18. #18 by sinnerconman on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 8:20 pm

    How could Muhammad be the prophet to the Arabs when all the prophets before him were never send to them?

    Muslims believe in the Torah where the “law of Moses” is so different to the Islamic law: The Torah states that when a thief is caught, he will have to pay back 20% more. or double what he steals and the Islamic law demands cutting off a hand, some sort of death punishment when the infected would results in his death and how is he going to work again if he did not die!

    See the contradiction – meaning you either reject the last one or all the laws.

  19. #19 by ktteokt on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 9:12 pm

    If Islam is so great a religion, it need not be “advertised” as what is done in Malaysia! Look at the way the mosques “blast” away prayers during the azan! I don’t think any other religion practises this. You need not tell the whole world that you are praying or you are pious. Besides, look at the hap-hazzard way the vehicles of these “pious” people are parked right to the middle of the road for Friday prayers. I remembers some years ago, the Chinese temple in Ampang performing prayers for the Nine Emperor Festival was victimized when “hardworking and efficient” policemen started issuing summonses to vehicles “parked hap-hazzardly”. Mind you, the Nine Emperor Festival is only a nine-day event each year but mosque prayers are done weekly, i.e. at least 52 times a year!!!

  20. #20 by OrangRojak on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 9:46 pm

    I don’t want to get involved in any size-comparison competitions over religion, I think comparing one religion to another is foolhardy and can have no positive result.

    ktteokt says:
    “I don’t think any other religion practises [blast away prayers]”.
    When I was a child I visited my mother’s family twice a year every year in Ireland. They did then, and I believe still do, ring the Angelus on church bells (usually large loudspeakers even in those days) at 6am, noon and 6pm. The Angelus is also broadcast on the national radio and TV stations, every day, at the same times.

    Before I left the UK to live in Malaysia, I owned an old cottage that backed onto an 11th century church standing in an even older graveyard, under yet older Yew trees. The church was the subject of many picture postcards and a source of great pride to its faithful. Bell-ringing practice was every Sunday morning at 8:30am, typically only a few hours after I got home from a nightclub or party. I think my attitude towards Christianity may have hardened because of the bells. The bells…

    Some of these sources of noise pollution are a matter of great pride and some considerable heritage. I think it’s only fair that they should be granted special dispensation (from otherwise perfectly sensible noise pollution laws) to continue. In a modern world, I think it probably ought to be recorded somewhere that the practice is a matter of heritage, and there is no carte blanche to create a disturbance if you feel it is your right. These times are not the Dark Ages, we needn’t base our understanding on a nod and a wink: all too often nods and winks can mean different things to different people. I’m sure there already exists a Malaysian Commission somewhere that could do something useful along these lines, so we don’t have to keep gossiping over the auto-gate about whether it’s right or not.

  21. #21 by One4All4One on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 10:39 pm

    With due respect to Islam, Muslims, and our Malay friends.

    Firstly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Islam. Being one of God’s religions, it was brought to this world to enlighten humanity when and where God The Almighty pleases. Mankind practices what God dispenses.

    Secondly, the interpretation of God’s teachings is limited by man’s, and hence the followers’, inherent inability to understand or decipher ALL of God’s messages, past, present and future.

    The latter would lead to more and more fuzzy interpretations and misinterpretations and misguided practices which would have far and wide implications and consequences over a long period of time. What resulted would be dubious and subject to questions and challenges.

    Who is 100% qualified to interpret and answer on God’s or the Prophet’s behalf?

    As such there would be more questions than answers.

    Indeed, who do we turn to for definitive and sure answers? When so many cases of abuse and misuse of religions for personal and individuals’ interest and gain are rampant over time. How do we tell the truth from untruth?

    Those who do not project pious and religious stances but who are undoubtedly upright and consistently impartial and accountable, hard-working and unprejudiced, righteous and open-minded, should not be written off by the so-called religious and pious.

    The fact that those people who subscribed to universal values and virtues and achieved profound, considerable and consistent successes and advancement indicate that they are doing something right.

    It would be useful if there is a dialogue between both sides, the religious sides ( Islam, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Bahai’s, etc. ) and the seemingly secular segments to understand one another’s strengths and weaknesses, and to come up with useful guidelines for the betterment of all.

    It is through such dialogues and exchanges of ideas and lessons which would hatch understanding, tolerance, and meaningful direction for all.

    Rituals are only as good as they are practised and adopted. What matter more are actions and thoughts which encompass everybody, regardless of their colour and creed. Religions are surely more than rituals alone. Hence, the adoption and application of religious teachings and precepts to everyday living and practices in pragmatic and practical ways would be more meaningful and useful than just being ritualistic.

    Man has come a long way since the days of Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ, and Muhammad. Historical baggages have their time and lives. There must be time for renewal and rejuvenation, even for religions.

    Perhaps it is time for us to take another good look at God’s teachings and messages and to decipher what we have overlooked and missed out on, so that the Truth would be revealed.

    Unity is the key to all of man’s woes.

    Oneness of God, Oneness of Religion, Oneness of Mankind, would make that possible.

  22. #22 by OrangRojak on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 - 11:51 pm

    “Oneness of God, Oneness of Religion, Oneness of Mankind, would make that possible.”
    Ayah Pin, is that you?

  23. #23 by c730427 on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 - 1:11 am

    Please read the work of Majid Tehranian from Iran – A Buddhist-Islamic dialogue. This is a beautiful work for humanity, peace and harmony. After reading it, i respect both religion very much! UMNO-BN should have this book for all the members.

  24. #24 by ablastine on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 - 2:13 am

    While we are living this life on earth shouldn’t we be paying more attention to living here rather than spending time envisioning heaven and means of getting there. What is this nebulous thing call spiritual development. Does it provide a short cut to heaven. To the terrorists it is martyrdom and the shortest path to heaven to claim their virgins if the body count meets their expectation when they blow themselves up together with those around them. Is it really God’s intention that our mission here in this life and in this world be spent thinking about the next. I think not.

    Religion is the primary source of all these disputes. It is really a waste of time trying to determine which religion and whose interpretation is right. I feel that we shouldn’t waste this precious life and time on earth by indulging in these unproductive exercises. If really God wanted us to be as religious as the various faiths in the world do, why do you think he send Jesus, Mohammad and whoever else to preach us his words. He could have just send one and only one person/entity to bring the message. My slant is God did not send them. Man made them or a least adulterated their messages throughout the ages as it percolates down to our times. Isn’t it surprising to know that no prophet or Son of God reappear after the triumph of scientific enquiry and the printing press. Not only Islam but I think every single faith on the surface of the earth will continue to diminish in stature and credence when minds become learned and informed. Thanks a million to the internet.

  25. #25 by ktteokt on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 - 8:27 am

    Orang Rojak, do you mean to tell me Prophet Mohammed also used a MICROPHONE and LOUDSPEAKER to blast away prayers during his times?

  26. #26 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 - 8:51 am

    Where is your own identity as a group of great people but having your own religious belief ? It looks like there is a tendency to follow a trend like following every fashion. Example you must have a Christmas tree, the so called snow, Santa Claus and reindeers. Don’t forget the so called westernized Christmas songs. That is just being westernized or europeanised or north poleised. Nothing about being Christians at hearts. If there is a birth, it did not happen in a white man’s land or in the south pole. It happened in the Middle East. In the summer in Middle East. The same region where Islam comes from. God Blesses Malaysia !

  27. #27 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 - 8:52 am

    Islam brought progress to the Bedouins and Malays simply because it liberated them with democratic basic education and law – reading, writing, arithmetic basic concepts of law, rights etc. Its has little to to do with the faith NOT the Islam was not ingenious in its design. You could have teach them communism or nazism and they would have been great changes.

    To look and keep asking why Islam fails to bring even further progress now is not to understand fundamental reason of success back then and lagely today’s modernity which is liberating the human spirit and protection of their private rights. THIS is why the western secular democracies continue to be ahead and will be for the next century…

  28. #28 by OrangRojak on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 - 12:15 pm

    “MICROPHONE and LOUDSPEAKER to blast away prayers during his times”
    Have you seen “The Life of Brian”? I’m not sure it will be very well known here. It is banned in some countries, from time to time. There’s no ill will in it – it has been screened in churches in the UK. If you were ever to commit the heinous criminal offence of using P2P software, I heartily recommend downloading a copy. It should be compulsory viewing for anyone contemplating taking part in sectarian politics. If you’re prone to take offence when no offence is meant, or prone to take the side of silly people when they’re being mocked, maybe it won’t be your thing.

    One of the first scenes in it is of Brian attending Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The crowd is very large, and as you rightly observe, no microphone or loudspeaker is used. Near Brian, at the back of the crowd, people are straining to hear. “What did he say?” asks one “I think he said ‘blessed are the cheesemakers'” says another.

    If a religious figure from the distant past had access to a PA system, I am sure they would have used one. Religions have always been quick to use advances in communication to spread their ideas. Have a look at the wikipedia articles on “televangelism” and “The God Channel”. Visit,, and, the website of Westboro Baptist church. Visit a UK town centre on a rainy Saturday afternoon and see the small bunch of christians holding “The End is Nigh” placards. A placard and a marker pen is not exactly an advance in communications any more, but it’s easy to imagine a person taking offence at the awful message being placed in their line of sight.

    Does Malaysia have noise-pollution legislation? I imagine if it exists, there’ll be an objective test based on sound pressure at a certain kind of workplace / residence at a certain time of day. Does the azan exceed the limits of the noise pollution legislation? I imagine time of day might be the deciding factor. I can’t imagine the azan being louder than “bip-bip-bip bibibip dilam, dilam” or “bibip bibip old newspaper”, or even the halfwit who sits in his car outside my neighbours’ houses honking their horn just after the children have gone to bed at night. The azan certainly can’t be louder or at a more disagreeable time of day than some of my neighbours’ distinctly home-made-sounding fireworks. Saying ‘the azan is noisy’ isn’t terribly enlightening in a place like Malaysia.

    The azan is an easy target for troublemakers, but should also be an easy subject for a political decision. If it does exceed noise pollution limits, I see no reason why it should not have some limited (to avoid the prospect of acoustic warfare) exemption on the grounds of Malaysian heritage. Your government could actually do something useful for once, and bring a simple end to the quarrel.

    My very Catholic mother never missed a chance to bring me to Mass when I was a child. One Christmas day, when I’d never seen such a large crowd at church, the priest remarked “I’ve read about the great Tribes: the Israelites, the Malekites and the Simeonites. well, you all must be the Christmastreelites.”
    Religions are ephemeral. Anybody who believes the archetypal European is a christian can’t have been to Europe recently. Has anybody noticed that the Anglican church has moved to Africa? The global attraction to Christmas is not religious: “Happy, merry, jolly, goodwill to all men, decorations and singing” is something even I can drink to, while I would usually be moaning about the religious closure of the UK’s DIY shops at what ought to be a good time to catch up on home projects.
    Selamat Hari Christmas, cemerlang.

  29. #29 by k1980 on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 - 1:13 pm

    Is it any wonder that the malay mindset went wrong?

    Sura (8:55) – Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve

    Sura (48:29) – Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves

    Sura (8:12) – I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them

    Sura (9:123) – O you who believe! Fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness

  30. #30 by juno on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 - 6:33 pm

    To quote …”rather with our understanding – and thus practice – of it…….”—To put that in perspective, that is the same punishment if you were to engage in subversive or communist activities. Add to that the favorite past time of our leaders: banning books and restricting speakers! That ring through our noses can be very restricting!—”
    Beautifully spoken Bakri– the point is that the teachings are so wonderful , the extremists misread and are more guided by ones who have an agenda ; especially despotic leaders of Nations.
    In Malaysia — if you ask me all the leaders wont know these beautiful teachings of Islam– as they are guided more for political support by these misguided groups who don’t realize that their fortunes is being squandered . These leaders only religion is that the misguided groups are a power source to keep their blank cheques open to have the life far away from the actual teachings that they are supposed to inculcate, ie — and well exhibited out here — —of the corruption in the name of preserving their faith. As you’ve said , its true — the Malaysia leaders have damaged the young beyond repair. They don’t care if there is a Talebanisation taking place because their children by that time will be back from overseas to control them with money politics and stories of wolves!

  31. #31 by One4All4One on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 - 10:33 pm

    On Faith:

    Faith is something you cannot fathom with reason and logic alone, the more you try to reason or deliberate on it with our logic, the more distant you become. Faith belongs to those who believe and trust (not blindly, though). On the other hand, unbelieving could be based on illogic and non-reason.

    To accept the teachings of Religions honestly and truthfully would bind oneself to the precepts, wisdom, principles, practices, rules and regulations therein. At least those who believe are guided and could live in peace with oneself and others. They know that there is Someone watching over them and they would show compassion, magnanimity and love to their fellow beings.

    Of course, there are those who would abuse religions, or just about anything else, for their own ends. These are opportunists and non true believers. Fanatics and extremists belong to this category. They must not be grouped together with the true believers.

    Those who are bereft of religious knowledge and guidance tend to be lost in times of crisis and even in good times. Hopefully their reasoning and logic would bring them to those who believe and see for themselves the Beauty and Truth of Religions.

    On Oneness of mankind:

    It is the belief that all humanity is indeed but one mankind, which makes us all equal before God. No one race is superior than another. If one thinks one is of a better or more superior stock and so therefore could lord over others who are considered inferior, then one would have been racist, prejudicial, discriminatory, claiming supremacy, self indulgent, parochial, hegemonic, etc., etc. These are the very characteristics we so abhor and reject in the blogs and discussions. Religions do not promote them. In this aspect, at least, we are on the same side.

    On Oneness of Religion:

    All Religions emanate from One single source, God Himself. So there should not be any differentiation or discrimination between them. Just that different ages call for different Teachings and Lessons. As human progresses through time and different eras, a more advanced Revelation is introduced in different time/era to cater to a different audience ( = more advanced, learned and enlightened people, as time progresses). That’s why Religions are also said to be PROGRESSIVE.

    What we take for granted and know now were not existent during our forefathers’ time. So we need new information and knowledge to guide us through. Hence a new Religion ( = new Teaching) is introduced at an appropriate era.

    For those who do not share the teachings (as yet), we do not apportion any blame. Perhaps one day you could see the Truth and Beauty that we do.

    God bless you.

  32. #32 by dinotim on Thursday, 25 December 2008 - 1:05 am

    Mao said, ‘Religion is poison’. I would say, ‘The mind is poisoned’.
    With a good mind (having good will, good intention etc.) anyone can be a good person, not just religious person.

    I’m an atheist now. I will not repent because I have nothing to repent to(at least that is what I think and, I don’t care what is your opinion on the existence of God, you are brainwashed when you are young).

    Doing what is right lies in your brain, not believing literally or wholly the content of a book(your holy book). Do you actually think hacking off an infidel’s head or believing Jesus is the son of god on your deathbed will get you to heaven?


  33. #33 by rockdaboat on Thursday, 25 December 2008 - 3:20 pm

    Without any doubt, Islam is a beautiful religion. The problem is that this beautiful religion is being used by a bunch of politicians, who claimed to be the defender of the faith for their own agenda at the expense of their own race.

    These so called defender of the faith are corrupted both spiritually and materially.

    Are not corruption and money politic haram under Islam?
    Islam teaches them to treat everyone equal, but what do they do instead?

    What a bunch of hypocrites!!!

  34. #34 by OrangRojak on Thursday, 25 December 2008 - 11:45 pm

    Just in case anybody wonders, I’m not an atheist. My official documents in Malaysia say “Tiada agama” – which to my mind is a much better label. The problem with being labelled an atheist is that non-atheists are apt to believe it’s a club. Non-atheists worry that atheists wink knowingly at each other when non-atheists are not looking; that atheists have funny handshakes; that atheists are conspiring for some kind of world domination based on knowing a vast number of tedious facts about the train that has just arrived. It’s unfortunate there’s even a word for atheism. That the word exists is more a consequence of the ubiquity of religion (“Ooh look! An atheist!”), not the strength of kinship of atheists.

    I’m beginning to be less surprised when people say “You are white man – you are kristian!”, although at first it was no less surprising than “you are white man – you keep a golden retriever!” would be. Coming from a society in which religion is a matter of personal choice and not professing a religion is commonplace, the word ‘atheist’ is rarely heard. ‘Atheist’ on teh Internets is more common – thanks mostly to the efforts of the citizens of that well known hotbed of radical religious inculcation, the USA. ‘Atheist’ was a word I rarely used in the UK. If asked if I was religious, I would simply say I was not. If someone asked me if I was a Christian, I would tell them I am not religious, to avoid the subsequent game of Twenty Questions.

    Just as I didn’t have a label for people who were not religious, I know of no English word for people who do not keep a dog. For that matter, I’m not sure I know any words (other than ‘atheist’, as commonly used) for people who have not made a specific lifestyle choice. Judging by the numbers of people emptying their dogs in UK parks on Sunday mornings, compared to the numbers of people arriving at churches, I would say “You white man – you keep a golden retriever” would be a safer bet than the Kristian one.

    I hope one day that there are just as many religious people as there are now, but they have all made a personal choice to be religious, and enjoy the full pleasure of a religious experience made all the better by knowing that the credit is all theirs for choosing their religious belief rather than being assigned to it. I’ll know when that day comes, because my neighbours, instead of making an X=Y deduction, will ask “are you religious?” and I’ll be able to answer “no”, rather than give the category on my documents. It won’t be much of a conversation of course – even if they are interested in companion animals – but at least I won’t have to include myself in any non-existent clubs based on the non-possession of an attribute.

    Thanks, I’ve finished now. I’ll wish everyone that enjoys goodwill a last “Selamat Hari Christmas”, and would send my best wishes for Muharram, if I could work out exactly how to do it and when. My neighbours mentioned it was imminent, but appeared no wiser about the details than I am. Searching for information about it online has left me even more confused. If one of the regular contributors that has a still-going-right mindset on matters of Islam could relieve me of my ignorance, I would be grateful. I promise I won’t try to guess your race.

  35. #35 by fh6 on Friday, 26 December 2008 - 10:32 am

    If you are a member of Mau Utd fan club, you are govern by your set of rules, which you have to follow. So, if someone claim that they are a Muslim, by which Muslims have to abide by the Quran, Sunnah, Ijma’ and Qias, there’s no beating around the bush .
    The Quran, which Muslims BELIEVE to be the true MUST be followed by Muslims, or must have the DESIRE to follow or must try their best to follow.
    Mr Lim Kit Siang or Samy Vellu or any other non Muslims are not required to follow, same as Man Utd fans says that the best striker in the whole world is between Eric Cantona, Goerge Best, Bobby Charlton and it will be A SIN for Man Utd fans to even suggest that the best striker in the world is Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Kevin Keegan or Charlie George or any other Tom Dick or Harry if they are from another club. Thoughts like this are punishable as they shall be purged and kick out of Man Utd Fan Club…

    To simplify things, Muslims take care of Muslims issues, such as marriages, wills, adultery etc. If other religions have their own set of rules, why not follow the rules. Or if they want to use Lord Reeds’ law, so be it.

    All this while, the Malaysian public have been hearing Hudud things from known LIARS such as UMNO…espcially UMNO. They don’t want justice, as we have seen so far. It’s just mere cosmetics.

    Selangor MB commented that Now it is up to PAS to explain what they meant… is a good start. Lets have sessions of dialog…

    For all those out there, Islamic law , can be briefly divided into 3 parts –
    1. Hudud 2. Qisas 3. Takzir

    Hudud is the law taht Allah have imposed , no compromise. Also it is not easy to convict.

    Qisas is Allah’s law but humans can choose.

    Takzir is general laws such as traffic lights, spped limits, licence, road tax etc…which Allah doesn’t want to interfere…humans have the brains to know right and wrong..

    So, lets arrange for dialog, rather that holding true what UMNO have told you. If you believe waht UMNO says about Hudud, then there is no point of dialog. Be open minded and listen to different PAS presentations

  36. #36 by OrangRojak on Friday, 26 December 2008 - 12:57 pm

    fh6, I think your post is a good example of the difference between member, fan and fanatic. Paying members of MUFC may know nothing at all of football, and be subscribing solely for access to tickets, for example for corporate hospitality. They will hold no strong opinion about MUFC at all, except perhaps that it is beneficial in one aspect of their business.

    Fans of MUFC may have MUFC posters and memorabilia in their homes and offices, and even know all past and present players’ names, but would perhaps be prepared to enter into a workplace, home or pub conversation about a proposed ‘best player ever’ with fans of other football clubs, perhaps even bemoan MUFC’s occasional dismal performance.

    MUFC fanatics are known as “the Red Army”, or even the “Men in Black”, and are prepared to cause grievous injuries in the name of supporting their side.

    I’m not sure there’s anything else to say along these lines, except that analogies should be chosen with the utmost care.

  37. #37 by isahbiazhar on Saturday, 27 December 2008 - 5:45 am

    What went wrong was the politician.They never allowed the Malays to study other religions and live peacefully.The Malays were shut down in their religious thinking and thus had to become fanatics to defend their faith.If only they had read the Vedas and the accompanying books they would have appreciated that the Prophet was mentioned in the ancient texts.As long as other religions are not taught in our educational system we will be breeding more fanatics and terrorists.Islam is great but we should always respect the other religions as propounded by the prophet.We should not be Arabs but Islamists.

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