I am Muslim, and I am Malaysian: The story behind the #Iam26 petition

— Tariq Ismail
The Malay Mail Online
January 6, 2015

JANUARY 6 — This is a call to Malay Muslims. This is a call to Malaysians.

For centuries since the Malaccan Empire to modern times, the Malays have lived and worked with other races. Our culture has been a melting pot of Chinese, Indian, Arabic and Indonesian and this is what makes Malays unique to the world.

Age old adats are still practised today and one Malay adat stands out above the rest — RESPECT. It has been ingrained within us since childhood to respect our elders, our neighbours and each other. But before we begin to respect one another we must first respect ourselves.

I grew up a spoilt brat within my own four walls as a result of my upbringing. I went to the best schools that were afforded to me and my lingua franca whilst growing up was English and Malay. But what held me together, and I thank both my parents and late grandmother Toh Puan Norashikin for this, was religion.

Without going into too much detail of how my religion was taught to me back then, there is one fundamental core that I subscribe to and which I wish to share with everyone — both Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Apart from Quranic reading, I was always taught by the ustaz that Allah is supreme, the Quran is His word and only He judges. It is to Him we ultimately return to.

It is thus, that when Lyanna Khairuddin approached me with a petition to support the G25 I began to reflect back on what it means to be a Muslim. Here was a science lecturer who wanted to know more about Islam but was scared to ask due to the venom and hate that surrounds Islam today and much of it emanating from those who claim to defend Islam. She asked the same question that I have pondered myself every day for a year — Why is Islam perceived in such a negative manner by so many – including those defenders of Islam?

My being a Muslim and my own beliefs aside, I live in Malaysia. I was born here, my children were born here and it is here that we will live our lives out and, ultimately, die.

It is therefore in my personal interest as well as the interest of every Malaysian that Malaysia should remain peaceful, free from ethnic tensions and prosper.

In order to do so, we must become an inclusive society and anything that drives any divisions between Malaysians of different ethnicities or religions MUST be avoided.

Whatever one’s personal feelings may be, I feel it is imperative that all Malaysians cast aside any tendency to vent those feelings in a manner that may offend or threaten other Malaysians.

Insensitive statements by politicians, NGOs, illegal demonstrations, even irresponsible Facebook posts and teh tarik talk are all things that damage our nation and thereby hurts us ALL, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. It is only a question of degree.

We must realise that we are partners; brothers & sisters; and that we are all in the same boat together.

We are one and what hurts any part of us hurts us all collectively and instead of engaging in speech and activity which hurts us, we should resume the task of nation building and we need to build on each other’s strengths while recognising each other’s weaknesses.

Above all, we need to recognise that by focussing on the negatives, we compromise our unity and risk our nation being reduced to a shambles — to the detriment of us all.

The very real threat that racial and/or religious disunity will bring about the downfall of our nation is not new, nor is it newly discovered. Our founding fathers and the Reid Commission were well aware of the dangers that the newly-born Malaya would self- destruct if we failed to unite and safeguards against this danger were hard-wired into our Constitution.

I believe that this was the motivation behind the recent call by the 25 eminent Malays for discourse and clarity regarding the position of Syariah Law with regard to the Civil Law and the Constitution. It is a call for collective preservation in order that we may all live together harmoniously.

It is in this spirit that I, Tariq Ismail, promise to defend any Muslim’s right to practice Islam as he or she sees fit, and Insya Allah I WILL fight anyone who forces anybody else to practice it any other way.

By the same token, I will fight for the same right of every Malaysian to practice their own religion, within the bounds of the Federal Constitution and the Rule of Law.

It is for this reason that I support the Iam#26 Petition and why every Malaysian Muslim needs to do so. We need to know clearly what and where the boundaries are.

If we don’t find clarity in this situation, the resulting confusion will result in a lot of acrimony and, heaven forbid nauzubillah, strife between not only our different ethnicities, but also between Muslim brother & sister against Muslim brother & sister.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 7 January 2015 - 8:09 am

    I ask of G25 and like-minded to consider this: No other issue advertises the problem than the whole “Allah” issue. At the core of it all is the interpretation of Article 11 “law may control and restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among Muslims”.

    How is it for so long, it was never interpreted such that laws could be imposed on non-Muslims in the practise of their religion which Article 11, the first phrase and line says otherwise but then now they says its their “right”..

    Like it or not, its entitlement. The disease of this country which was suppose to be economic temporarily only gone out of control..

    How do they propose, that our weak-knee and back-bone politicians, explain the sophistication that the interpretation of those who created the issues, just like the economic over-entitlement they now have, are “ultra vires”, that the only possible working and must-be liberal interpretation is that the onus of faith must be on the proponents and practicers of each religious faith and NOT others and that no honest legal intellectual can read the Constitution and Article 11 any other way?

    The problem began long time ago, and for too long, we let it slide for convenience, now we and worst our children and future have to pay for it.

  2. #2 by Justice Ipsofacto on Wednesday, 7 January 2015 - 9:36 am

    Dear Tariq Ismail,

    I hv one question for you. Can you tell me whether all that you have mentioned above on Islam is also available in Islam jenis umno?

    Thank you.

  3. #3 by Justice Ipsofacto on Wednesday, 7 January 2015 - 9:38 am

    Sorry question could be better phrased as follows:

    “Whether all that you have mentioned above on Islam are also present in Islam jenis umno?”

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 7 January 2015 - 11:06 am

    Another Q
    Is E coli a sexually transmitted disease easily contracted in Bangkok when engaged in cock banging activities?

    • #5 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Wednesday, 7 January 2015 - 2:28 pm

      You get an E. coli infection by coming into contact with the feces, or stool, of humans or animals. So, the answer to your question is – yes, provided you do a sodomy.

  5. #6 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 7 January 2015 - 2:07 pm

    Proud 2 b Malaysians
    Plz say THANK U 2 d minority-erected UmnoB/BN gomen 4 d wonderful big fat New Year present
    1 USD = RM3.58 n MORE n more sooner or later

  6. #7 by worldpress on Wednesday, 7 January 2015 - 4:45 pm

    Asia people need to decide which side you want to be either you want to be ASIA or be MIDDLE-EAST

    ASIA culture is difference compare to MIDDLE-EAST culture where they view LIES/LIAR differently, they may praise people have won as a winner with it

    ASIA culture and MIDDLE-EAST culture mind set is not same

    You need to decide where you want to be and stay firm!

  7. #8 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 8 January 2015 - 8:22 am

    How many people know that the word “liberal” is in the Royal Proclamation of the Rukun Negara? The proclamation actually says its the goal to have a liberal tradition and culture that is rich and diverse..

    It shows how completely taken over by repression this country has been..

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