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Response to “Hate Ideology a Threat to Unity” NST Oct 20, 2006

Response to “Hate Ideology a Threat to Unity” NST Oct 20, 2006
by Dr. Musa bin Mohd. Nordin

On God’s chosen day, Friday, of His blessed month, Ramadhan, Muslims worldwide would immerse themselves in prayer and contemplation. The men folk would congregate in the mosques to listen to the Friday sermon, perform the obligatory Friday prayers, celebrate the solidarity and fraternity of this one ummah and offer alms to help mitigate the suffering of humanity world over.

It is most unfortunate that some have chosen this choicest of day and month, in her Friday -sermon-, to spew unprovoked insinuations that the bulk of her fellow Muslim Malaysian citizenry are propagators of the -hate ideology- (see Hate ideology a threat to unity, NST page 12, Friday, Oct 20, 2006).

Amongst the luminaries (or is it culprits) of this band wagon of the -ideology of hate and intolerance- and the mobilization to -halt any further democratization and liberalizing of this country- are the likes of;

  1. ACCIN ( Allied Coordinating Committee of Islamic NGOs ), whose roll of members includes JIM, ABIM, Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA), Islamic Information & Services (IIS), Research & Information Centre On Islam (RICOI) and many others
  2. Defenders of Islam (PEMBELA), a fraternity of at least 80 Islamic NGOs
  3. Mothers In Iman (MII), incorrectly labelled Mothers Against Apostasy, which includes ladies in the Muslim Professionals Forum ( which she has also selectively singled out ) who spearheaded its inception in close collaboration with ladies from the 80 NGOs in PEMBELA.
  4. And her hit list continues.

It would seem that virtually all the main players in the Islamic NGO and professional scene are guilty of being agent provocateurs of this -hate ideology- which she furthers adds -poses a clear and present danger ( not very original I might add in her choice of cliche ) to the Malaysia that we know and love-.

An early morning SMS from a doctor friend sums it succinctly, -The writer is correct about a hate culture – her own hatred and disgust for all those who do not share her views on Islam.-

Our Prime Minister himself has not been spared of her Friday rantings. She alleged that the PM -sent the wrong signal- when he ordered the clampdown on public debate related to issues of religious sensitivities. She disputed the wisdom of the PM’s directive and that the gag order was a sign of weakness, the government kow-towing to the assault of the Islamist (see -MPF lauds PM’s directive-, Aug 04, 2006, www.mpf.org.my)

She coined the term Islamist supremacist to refer to those whose -use of mob intimidation and threat violence worked in coercing the government- into submission thus restricting the freedom of expression . This is very reminiscent of the adulterous spinning of Islamic terminologies ala President Bush. Moving from -the axis of evil- outdated by 2006, to -Islamist, Islamic radicalism, militant jihadism- deemed too academic and jargony, to his recent favourite -Islamofascist- and more currently referring to the Islamic terrorist enemy as wanting to -establish, extend and spread the Caliphate-. I wonder how the Home Ministry would view her flagrant disregard for the Ministry’s autonomy and independence and their being black mailed in broad daylight by a bunch of Islamist supremacist !

Now she fears for the judiciary which is similarly being threatened by this mob rule of law. The AG chambers has a committee which deliberates on these fragile issues of religion and the law. I understand that the writer’s grouping was part of this committee until they were unceremoniously removed because of their dishonouring the rules of engagement decided by the committee.

It makes one wonder who is the one displaying the mob rule culture and undertaking unilateral decisions to project and champion their own version of Islam vis a vis the law.

The sublimity and loftiness of this religious and intellectual discourse has plummeted rock bottom with the multiple name callings and abusive brandings by the writer. But then, she has a comprehensive and exhaustive repertoire of journalistic jargon, among others branding the drafters of the Islamic Family Law Amendments bill as -misogynists- and -patriarchal-.

Despite all this, our religion of peace and compassion, of the mind, body and soul, teaches us, nay commands us to -Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way- (Surah XVI, An-Nahl : 125).

We recognize and respect the views of a miniscule of Muslims who champion a hyper liberal interpretation of Islam – making Islam subservient to prevailing secular notions of rights, freedoms and gender equality. Understandably, they would view some or all of the Shariah rulings as being too restrictive or embarrassing to their western and secular sensibilities. It is most unfortunate that the human rights language has been notoriously abused by a few individuals and groups who are pushing for Malaysian Muslims to jettison their religious traditions and adopt wholly the west’s post modern materialism and secular ideologies.

These differing percepts are anticipated and humanly inevitable. Nonetheless, such views remain a minority within the larger Muslim community, however fashionable and vociferous they may be with the generous media space accorded to them at the expense of mainstream views. The wisdom being to recognize that these differences and anomalies are strictly and entirely a religious in-house issue, normal to any religious community, and best resolved intra-faithfully.

We however regret that these few Muslims, anxious to be decorated as champions of progressive, Liberal Islam have turned these normal internal differences into national issues by seeking the support of those outside the faith who share the common desire for complete secularisation of society, to force religion and spirituality into the private domain (see MPF Press Release, Policing Morality, March 2005, www.mpf.org.my)

Not withstanding, these differing jurisprudential and philosophical opinions are being solicited by the legal authorities both civil and Shariah, in an attempt to crystallize the authentic and unadulterated Islamic position within the context of the Malaysian law. To disengage unilaterally from this process and undertake a roadshow of vengeance does not augur well for oneself nor one’s organization.

The Muslim Professionals Forum recognize and reaffirm the inalienable right of any individual or group to express their opinions in a public forum within the stipulates of the law. We’ve similarly had our share of -hate mails- and the writer’s most recent piece fails to disguise her venomous contempt and hostility of the public space accorded to all others notably towards the -tactical sprouting of new Islamist NGO- for a fertile and healthy discourse. The few isolated incidents of misdemeanours were grossly exaggerated and extrapolated as representative of the mainstream Muslim position.

The writer alludes to democratization as a desired ultimate goal but fails to mention the thousands of massacred Muslim children, women, men, the old and infirmed, conveniently described as collateral damage in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, , Afghanistan and Chechnya amongst others, killed in the name of DEMOCRACY. Instead, she chose to highlight the one alleged case of death threat. This strangely is not -hate ideology- to her but perhaps an acceptable adverse effect of the roadmap towards the utopia of democracy.

From the very outset, our modus operandi has been one of enlightened discourse, discussions and negotiations within the context of the law, more recently under the auspices of the legal chambers of the country – can one be more legitimate and democratic than this ?

(see -Article 11 demonstration in Penang-, 19 July 2006, www.mpf.org.my).

The writer quoted Clive Kessler to reinforce her notions of the threat of these -pious new Malay Muslim middle class activists-. Unfortunately, we have a rather adverse view of the mentioned authority. It is very difficult to take a -long time commentator on Malaysian politics and Islam- seriously if he is unable to tell the difference between Islam Liberal and Islam Hadhari ( see -Response to Clive Kessler’s- article www.mpf.org.my ).

Suffice for me to quote a short excerpt from our response; -Those who take the effort of objectively evaluating the papers presented at our (MPF) Liberal Islam seminar will easily recognize Professor Kessler’s malicious slander, “…. the Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) held an all-day event to give unbridled rein to such criticism of the Prime Minister’s religious orientation and supporters under the banner “Liberal Islam: A Clear and Present Danger”. To equate Liberal Islam with Islam Hadhari is most preposterous and highly irresponsible. Suffice for us to highlight one simple fact which escaped Professor Kessler – the keynote address at our seminar was delivered by respected scholar Muhammad Uthman El-Muhammady, distinguished fellow at ISTAC, formerly a fellow at IKIM and the government’s most recognizable spokesperson for Islam Hadhari. It is plain obvious that he had not read the conference papers. His is a mere gut reaction based on a blind support for a particular interpretation of Islam which has little acceptance among Muslims-.

The writer must be extremely desperate to have to extract a quote from Astora Jabat, ex-columnist Mingguan Malaysia to substantiate her writings. His infamous, weird, wayward and unschooled fatwas (edicts) are well known to all and sundry.

We have more than a sprinkling of Islamophobic writers who would like to conjure an image of the “Malaysian Islamist” as some sinister guy with hostile bearded faces, adorning a robe, sporting large weird turbans, no fun guys, who beat their women-folk , hate having non-believers as neighbours and are walking time bombs! The public opinion survey by Dr. Patricia Martinez of Universiti Malaya’s Asia-Europe Institute which polled 1,029 randomly-selected Malaysian Muslims across the peninsula between Dec 15 and 18, 2005 would be a rude awakening to their coloured journalistic egos and debunk many of their ill informed suppositions and generalizations.

“- Some of the findings really repudiate some of the claims being made about Muslims, or even what many of us have assumed. For example, the growing orthodoxy, which came through in the survey, does not mean that Peninsular Malaysian Muslims are growing less open to diversity in the country. The results also discredit some of the assumptions and generalisations about Malaysian Muslims– (The Sun, 6 Sept 2006).

— As such, claims writ large about who Muslims in Malaysia are and what they want, feel and need, are sometimes exaggerations if not generalisations. The results are mixed, neither confirming only moderation nor indicating overwhelming orthodoxy. But what the survey results do confirm, hearteningly, is that Muslims are able to live with the diversity that is Malaysia, and the reality that is our world-. (NST, Opinion: Thumbs up to living in Malaysian diversity, 10 Aug 2006).

The overwhelming majority in the survey defined themselves primarily as Muslims rather than by their national identity as Malaysians and a resounding 97.1% were comfortable living alongside people of other faiths. This heightened Islamic religiosity should not be interpreted as worrying trends of exclusivism or extremism, as many have elected to erroneously conclude. Instead it is back to basics, back to the holy text and the traditions of the prophet, reflected in the sacred Islamic law (Shariah). The Shariah is the epitome of the Islamic spirit, the very manifestation of the Islamic way of life based on an unqualified submission to the will of God. -For each We have appointed a divine law and a traced out way. Had Allah willed He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He as given you- ( Al-Quran; V:48 ).

In practice, our co-religionists have always been able to exercise the right to opt for the westernised lifestyle without regard for Shariah “with impunity”. We have always respected the lifestyle choices of our fellow Muslims. The least we ask of them is to reciprocate this respect and not to denigrate Islam and the Shariah. (see MPF press release -Shariah enactments tramples civil liberties with impunity? April, 2005)

The undertones and sentiments of her writings -hate ideology a threat to unity- are not only divisive to Muslim unity and solidarity, but also sow the seeds of racial and religious divide by making the non-Muslims feel that they have been deliberately marginalised and maligned by the Muslims. That is the CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER.

Dr. Musa Mohd. Nordin

Founding Director

Muslim Professionals Forum

Suite 1810, 18th Floor, Plaza Permata,
Jalan Kampar,
Kuala Lumpur 50400
Tel : 03-40427139