Saturday, 17 May 2014

Silent No More? Is Iskandar Fareez Part Of The Minority Or Majority?

Found this in the Malaysian Insider:

The Malay phobia: Isma fearing its own shadows – Iskandar Fareez

MAY 17, 2014

I grew up listening to various Malay folklore and legends. Among them were the stories of Si Tanggang and Hang Jebat. Si Tanggang was a poor boy who grew up and ventured out to be the captain of his own ship and married a princess. As the legend goes, when Si Tanggang returned to his home village, he was ashamed of his humble origins and refused to recognise his elderly mother. Then, he was cursed by his mother to turn into stone.

Hang Jebat was the closest companion of the legendary Malaccan hero Hang Tuah. Hang Jebat turned against the Sultan of Malacca when he believed that Hang Tuah had been executed by the ruler. After learning that Hang Tuah was still alive, the Sultan ordered him to kill Hang Jebat. Hang Tuah managed to stab Hang Jebat after a long and challenging battle. Until today, the death of Hang Jebat is often cited as an example of the price one pays for disobeying a ruler.

Listening to these stories in school, we were made to study the lessons that we can learn from them. I realised that these folklore are merely stories passed down from one generation to the next and interpreted in a way to instil fear in the hearts of listeners so they will be in good behaviour.

They do not teach us to love our mothers. They teach us to fear the consequences of defying her. They do not teach us to respect our leaders. They teach us to fear the consequences of going against them. In the end, being conditioned from the beginning, fear motivates every single one of our thoughts. Fear becomes the guiding inspiration for every single one of our actions.

I believe it is this fear or phobia that motivated the president of Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), Ustaz Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman, to label the Chinese as trespassers brought in by the British to Tanah Melayu to oppress and bully the Malays. He also went on to suggest that these “proxies to the Jewish Zionist evangelists” are seeking to dissolve Malays' racial construct and bury Islam as the national identity.

Abdullah Zaik is not alone in his quest. Recently, Abdul Rahman Mat Dali, vice president of Isma, questioned the loyalty of non-Malays and suggested that when they came to Tanah Melayu, they could not even speak a word of Bahasa Malaysia.

These statements show that Isma suffers from a major issue of inferiority complex. This issue evolved into a severe case of xenophobia, "an irrational or unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange". Unfortunately, this not only true for Isma but permeates within the majority of the Malay Muslim community in Malaysia.

Extreme paranoia has led us to believe that everything in the world is against us. All things foreign or different are considered as a conspiracy agenda of the Illuminati, Freemasons, Jewish Zionist Evangelist, Shiites, Wahhabi, communist, socialist, capitalist and Red Bean Army. It is more worrying when we start to justify these phobias along religious lines.

Indeed, this is the danger when we mix religion with race. In Malaysia, a Malay person must be Muslim but a Muslim may not be Malay. In Isma’s struggle to defend Malay supremacy, they have overlooked this reality. They have portrayed a version of Islam that is racist and unjust. By taking the extremists' view, they may be isolating those who want to learn more about Islam. How then can Islam thrive if we take this extreme approach?

Despite Isma’s claim that Islam is under threat by foreign elements, it seems that it is Muslims themselves who are taking this narrow and extremist approach that are threatening the religion. It is unfortunate that those who are as well educated as Isma, most of which are who Muslim professionals who pursued their studies abroad using taxpayers' money mostly contributed by non-Muslims or non-Malays, are very regressive in their thinking.

Phobias like this motivate us to act reactively to issues that arise without discussing the crux of the matter. This approach causes us to resort to extreme measures such as the banning of Faisal Tehrani’s novels and Darwin’s translated works, out of fear that these materials will corrupt the mind of the community.

We are reduced to becoming a superficial society where we judge one another by how Islamic they portray themselves to be. Muslims nowadays are satisfied to practise only the ritualistic part of the religion while abandoning the essence of Islam that preaches peace and acceptance.

As much as I disagree with Isma’s statement, I do not wish for them to be charged under any laws of the country. In a democratic society that aspires to practise freedom of speech, any idea, no matter how racist or idiotic, has to be given space. It is then up to us to provide constructive counter arguments so that a healthy discourse can flourish. We have to speak up and voice our concerns. If our voices are not heard, extremists like Isma and Perkasa will continue to speak on our behalf.

The western civilization achieved progress because they embraced knowledge. Knowledge is like a beacon of light that brought the western civilization out of the midst of the dark ages. When we choose to remain ignorant, we will forever dwell in the shadows of fear, suspicion and doubt. If Malay Muslims want to progress, we have to stop blaming others. Embrace knowledge and learn, as it will be a guiding light for a brighter future.

"I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam." - Muhammad Abduh. – May 17, 2014.

* Iskandar Fareez reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.


Watch This:

Dr Asri Zainul Abidin weighs in:

Ex-mufti slams extremist Islamist groups, says Christianity and Islam closely related

MAY 17, 2014

Islam is not under attack in Malaysia, and extremist Islamist groups that constantly warn of alleged Christianisation are only shaming their own religion, says prominent Islamic scholar Dr Asri Zainul Abidin (pic).

The former mufti of Perlis said efforts by any religious community to spread their teaching was a natural phenomenon in all countries, and it did not merit knee-jerk reactions from Muslims in Malaysia‎.

"I want to remind Muslims not to be shocked if there are people who invite them to join Christianity. Of course religious leaders will feel that theirs' is the true religion, and would want to invite others to join them.

"Some Muslims are so shocked by this, as if it's the end of the world... (but) Muslims in the UK, the US and Europe also campaign for Christians to join Islam.

"So the same is being done here. It is a normal phenomenon that does not require us to react in such a chaotic manner, as if our country is in a state of emergency," Asri told The Malaysian Insider.

"The closest people to the Muslims are Christians. The Quran‎ says you will find that the people who love Muslims the most are Christians."

Asri was responding to the controversial seminar on Christology and the use of the word Allah, held‎ last week at the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

Several speakers had warned Muslims against the threat of Christianisation and belittled the Bible as containing "tales‎", while copies of a book titled "Exposing the Christian agenda" were distributed among the students.

The recent events had strained ties between the two biggest religious communities in Malaysia, which were already in conflict over the decades-long tussle over the use of the word Allah.

Christians make up 2.9 million of Malaysia's 30 million population, with two-thirds of the adherents residing in Sabah and Sarawak.

Asri reminded Muslims in Malaysia that they had no reason to be worried about the fate of their religion, as no attack had been launched against Islam.

The Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) had fanned the flames of religious intolerance when it called Chinese migrants brought to Malaya as "trespassers", and warned of "foreign races" and Jewish Zionist evangelists who were intent on burying Islam.

The groups' remarks have triggered outcry among Malaysians‎, but Putrajaya ‎has remained silent over Isma's statements.

Asri said extremist Islamist non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were tarnishing the image of Islam and spreading confusion among Muslims over the true teaching of the faith.

"We must not be so extreme. There are NGOs‎ which want to promote themselves, but are over the top in doing so," said Asri.

"They make Islam look as if it is so weak. Islam has strong arguments that proves it is the true religion. ‎(The NGOs) should not be so worried. We are worried because we are not doing our work properly," he said, although he did not mention the name of such groups.

Asri added that while Islam does not stop its adherents from criticising other religions, it should be done academically and not be based on emotions or simplistic arguments.

"If we spark enmity in a peaceful environment, eventually people will fight one another, despite the fact that they were originally living in harmony.

"This is not allowed in any religion, unless someone has initiated a war," said the scholar.‎ – 
May 17, 2014.


This Malay girl must beat the Chinese man in Teluk Intan! The country needs her to win.

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