RACE and ISLAM
Dr. Farish Noor
"... The success of ISLAM and the success of MUSLIMS are two entirely different things.
The victory of ISLAM has to be understood as the victory of universal values such as egalitarianism and equality before God.
The victory of MUSLIMS, on the other hand, may at times be understood as POLITICAL victories that may or may not conform to the standards of Islamic ethics.
When Muslims openly and abrasively demand special rights and privileges for themselves at the cost of equality and meritocracy: Is this really a victory for ISLAM?
Those who have criticised and opposed the appointment of Low Siew Moi as the head of PKNS on the grounds that the job should have been given to a Malay-Muslim instead should therefore look closely at themselves and ask: What is it that you are fighting for? Malay-Muslim dominance OR a better form of governance that is based on merit and equality?
The Islamic scholar will remind you that the latter is Islamic, while the former is not.
(Yet) among those who objected to the appointment of Low Siew Moi were some members of the PAS.
To quote Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, spiritual leader of PAS: 'Tell me, what race was Adam?’.
-Dr. Farish Noor
Excerpts: Read here for more
".... After more than fourteen centuries, there remain some people who claim to be Muslims but who still have not internalised the universal values of Islam.
Odder still, that there remain those who, on the one hand can embrace Islam’s universal claim of brotherhood (and sisterhood), but still cannot get around to understanding the simple idea that Islam and racism do NOT mix.
When it comes to governance and politics, some Muslims still place blood and race above competency and merit till today. Despite their profession of faith they remain embedded in the stagnant mode of racialised thinking that operates on the basis that some races are better than others.
One such case has popped up recently in multi-culti Malaysia, where a row was sparked off by the nomination of a Chinese woman – Low Siew Moi – as the head of a state institution linked to the economic management and development of the state of Selangor, the PKNS.
Despite the fact that Low Siew Moi was selected by the Chief Minister of the state, Tan Sri Khalid, on the basis of merit; some quarters chose to publicly disagree with her appointment on the grounds that the Malay-Muslims of the state would object to the appointment.
But objection on what grounds? On the basis that she is a Chinese woman?
Here the already convoluted waters of Malaysia’s racialised politics turns a shade murkier;
For among those who OBJECTED to the appointment of Low Siew Moi were some members of the Malaysian Islamic party, PAS.Malaysia’s politics has been defined by racial concerns and the communitarian demands of the various religious and ethnic groups of the country since its independence in 1957.
Over the past three decades, however, the tone and tenor of the country’s conservative, right-wing ethno-nationalist politics was further coloured by the Islamisation race in the country with the Malaysian government attempting to further inculcate Islamic values into the norms of governance in Malaysia as well.
Ironically however, Malaysia’s Islamisation programme seems to be more concerned with book-banning, fatwas on social behaviour (including the recent revelation that there may be a fatwa on Yoga soon, wait for it), and moral policing instead.
- Where, the Islamic scholar may ask, were the UNIVERSAL values of Islam in the midst of all this social engineering?
- Did the leaders of Malaysia not realise, or forget, the simple idea that Islam is an egalitarian faith that is colour-blind; and that the concept of ‘RACE ’ is an ALIEN idea in Islam?
The dilemma that Malaysia is facing now is the same dilemma faced by many other Muslim societies where the defence and promotion of Islam often goes hand-in-hand with the defence and promotion of the communitarian interests of Muslims.
In Malaysia’s case, where Muslims are overwhelmingly Malay, then this also translates as the defence of MALAY interests – to the extent of propagating the ethno-nationalist idea of Malay cultural dominance as well.
Now what on earth is Islamic about this?
Here is where orthodox Muslim scholarship has to come in and make its timely intervention:
... The success of Islam and the success of Muslims are two entirely DIFFERENT things, that may also clash and negate each other at times.When Muslims openly and abrasively demand special rights and privileges for themselves at the cost of equality and meritocracy, is this really a victory for Islam?
The victory of Islam, so to speak, has to be understood as the victory of universal values such as egalitarianism and equality before God.
The victory of MUSLIMS, on the other hand, may at times be understood as political victories that may or may not conform to the standards of Islamic ethics.
Those who have criticised and opposed the appointment of Low Siew Moi as the head of PKNS on the grounds that the job should have been given to a Malay-Muslim instead should therefore look closely at themselves and ask:
What is it that you are fighting for?
Malay-Muslim DOMINANCE OR a BETTER form of governance that is based on merit and equality?
The Islamic scholar will remind you that the latter is Islamic, while the former is NOT (Islamic).
In any case, for Muslims to even think in racialised communitarian terms is a misnomer of sorts as such modes of communitarian, sectarian thinking has no real place in Islamic orthodoxy and ethics.
To quote Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, spiritual leader of the Malaysian Islamic Party PAS: ‘tell me, what race was Adam?’.
‘Nuff said I think.
Perkauman... Sampai Bilakan Berakahir...
Read here in Tranungkite Online or Here (Bekerja Untuk Islam blog)
Selesai sahaja PRU12, isu perkauman seakan-akan diletupkan kembali.
- demontrasi bangsa melayu kononnya di Pulau Pinang bagi menentang pemansuhan DEB,
- kenyataan MB Selangor dalam isu quota UiTM yang dilihat seolah-olah meminggirkan bangsa Melayu,
- kenyataan Ketua UMNO bahagian Bukit Bendera, Pulau Pinang seakan-akan meletakkan bangsa Tiong Hua sebagai kelas kedua,
- kenyataan dan kelakuan YB Teresa Kok yang dimanipulasikan oleh Ketua Pembangkan DUN selangor YB Dr. Khir Toyo dan
- banyak lagi isu-isu berbau perkauman yang melanda negara Malaysia hari ini.
Persoalannya, kenapa isu perkauman begitu digemparkan samada pemerintah atau pembangkang.?
Apakah isu ini diketengahkan bagi menutup segala kegagalan pemerintah dalam mentadbir atau untuk membela bangsa melayu.?
Bagi penulis, timbulnya isu perkauman ini disebabkan UMNO yang gagal membela hak rakyat.
Kezaliman UMNO bukan kepada perobohan Masjid dan Surau, bahkan Kuil pun dirobohkan. ISA bukan sekadar menahan penceramah dan aktivis PAS. Bahkan pemimpin DAP pun terkena ISA ini.
Islam telah mengajar umatnya bagaimana untuk mengatasi masalah perkauman.
Bangsa arab sebelum kedatangan Nabi SAW merupakan bangsa yang paling banyak kafilah, ini tidak termasuk golongan yahudi dan kristian. Aus dan Khazraj antara kafilah yang tidak pernah berdamai hampir ratusan tahun.
Tetapi semua ini dapat diatasi dengan ISLAM.
Islam berjaya membina negara dalam masyarakat majmuk. Lebih majmuk dari masyarakat Malaysia pada hari ini. ketika Islam masuk ke Kota Madinah, tidak kedengaran pula timbul perbalahan kaum. Yang timbul ialah perdamaian antara Aus dan Khazraj, yang timbul ialah persetujuan Yahudi terhadap Piagam (perlembagaan) Madinah.
Selepas Makkah di buka, bangsa Quraisy tidak pernah memberontak dan menentang, walaupun pemerintah selepas itu bukan dari golongan Quraisy seperti Saidina Umar Al-Khattab RA
Walaupun Islam berjaya menguasai 2/3 dunia. Tidak pernah timbul berlaku pemberontakan akibat perbalahan kaum. Yang kedengaran hanya pemberontakan untuk menentang khalifah yang kelihatan zalim di mata sesetengah pihak.
Keadaan di Malaysia berlaku sebaliknya.
Cukuplah dengan 13 mei menjadi pengajaran kepada rakyat Malaysia.
Sepatutnya sejarah 13 Mei dipaparkan dengan mengetengahkan kehebatan PAS dalam menangani isu perkauman sehingga TIDAK merebak ke Kelantan. Hebatnya PAS ketika itu hanya kerana ISLAM.
Islam telah menafikan perkauman yang sempit dan diganti dengan keadilan Islam yang terlampu luas.
Islam tidak pernah menafikan keistimewaan kaum di tempat mereka. Contohnya apabila saidina Umar tidak membenarkan pembelian tanah di parsi oleh tentera Muslimin kerana menjaga hak rakyat parsi daripada tergadai di bumi sendiri.
Islam juga tidak pernah mengzalimi golongan Non Muslim yang sanggup mengakui sistem pemerintahan Islam. Sehingga Nabi memberi amaran supaya golongan Non Muslim tidak disakiti dan dianiaya.
Tuan Guru Presiden PAS pernah menyebut bahawa perkauman ini mula diasaskan oleh penjajah. Penjajah yang sengaja meletakkan bangsa India di estet, bangsa cina di bandar, bangsa Melayu dipedalaman adalah untuk melahirkan satu jurang antara mereka.
Sebab itulah di awal merdeka, bangsa Cina dilihat seolah-olah menguasai ekonomi tanah melayu ketika itu, bangsa Melayu sebagai pemilik asal negeri terpinggir di ceruk kampung.
Oleh kerana itu, timbul perasaan tidak puas hari dikalangan bangsa melayu terhadap apa yang berlaku.
Isu ekuiti 30 peratus untuk bumiputera jangan dipandang secara negatif. Keistimewaan ini bukan bermaksud untuk menzalimi bangsa lain. Tetapi lebih untuk menaikkan taraf bangsa melayu agat tidak terpinggir di negara sendiri.
Dalam masa yang sama, kerajaan juga mesti bertanggungjawab menaikkan taraf hidup bangsa Cina dan India agar tidak terus berada dalam kelompok kemiskinan tegar.
Kerajaan PAKATAN RAKYAT Selangor contohnya mula mempekenalkan program modul Insan yang melibatkan semua bangsa. Sehingga ada seorang india mengakui selepas mengikuti program modul Insan SPIES (penulis akan menulis tentang konsep ini secara detail nanti) bahawa sekarang ini barulah dia merasa bahawa dia adalah seorang rakyat selangor (kerana diraikan bersama-sama). Begitu isu sign board dan bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa rasmi.
- Hentikan polemik sempit ini. Biarkan bahasa Melayu menjadi bahasa rasmi kerana ini sebagai identiti negara Malaysia. Kalau negara Cina berbangga dengan bahasa mereka, Negara India berbangga dengan Bahasa mereka. Malaysia juga perlu berbangga kerana mempunyai bahasa tersendiri yang unik.
- Hentikan polemik perkauman yang sempit dan tidak berkesudahan ini, Yang penting hapuskan kezaliman yang telah dilakukan oleh UMNO sejak 50 tahun memerintah.
- Perkauman ini sebenarnya telah bermula ketika british menjajah dan diteruskan oleh UMNO/BN. Buktinya ialah kewujudnya parti yang mewakili bangsa.
Cukuplah….. hanya Islam yang mampu mengembalikan keamanan manusia sejagat.
The Total Failure of KETUANAN MELAYU
Read here in Malaysiakini
The ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ model has failed, declared former law minister Zaid Ibrahim in an incisive speech at the LawAsia 2008 conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning.
“It has resulted in waste of crucial resources, energy and time and has distracted from the real issues confronting the country,” said Zaid, who criticised the race-based policy despite being a member of the ruling Umno party which was set up to safeguard Malay interests.
Zaid also noted that ‘deputy premier in waiting' Muhyiddin Yassin had suggested the need for a closed-door forum for leaders of the Barisan Nasional to develop a common stand, a renewed national consensus grounded on the social contract.
"This is positive step but it should include all political leaders and be premised on the social contract that was the foundation of independence," said the lawyer by training who was made senator and subsequently minister entrusted with the task of reforming the judiciary by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi following the March 8 elections.
He quit last month in protest against the arrest of three individuals under the Internal Security Act, which provides for detention without trial.
Zaid said March 8 was a clear indicator that the ruling BN coalition NO longer exclusively speaks for the people.
He also underscored the importance of promoting discourse and dialogue so that Malaysians learn to talk and to listen to one another again. “Communication and trust amongst the people must be re-established,” he urged.
The former minister called on the BN government to abandon its ‘reworked' concept of the social contract and embrace a fresh perspective borne out of discussions and agreements made in good faith with all the communities in this country.
"It is time for us all to practice a more transparent and egalitarian form of democracy and to recognise and respect the rights and dignity of all the citizens of this country."
Singling out Mukhriz Mahathir for criticism, Zaid said the Umno Youth chief aspirant typifies what is perceived as the kind of Umno leader who appeals to the right-wing of Malay polity.
Zaid also referred to the recent remarks made by the son of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad that there was no need for law and judicial reforms as it would not benefit the Malays,
"That he may be right is sad as it leads to the ossification of values that will only work against the interests of the party and the nation," Zaid lamented in his 16-page speech.
"This type of thinking may pave the way to a suggestion in the future that we may as well do away with general elections altogether as they may not be good for the Malays for if the justice that a revitalised rule of law would allow for is not to the benefit of the Malays, what is? More inefficiency, more corruption and a more authoritarian style of government perhaps.
"We are a deeply divided nation, adrift for our having abandoned democratic traditions and the rule of law in favour of a political ideology that serves no one save those who rule," he added.
According to Zaid, the obsession with the Ketuanan Melayu doctrine has destroyed something precious in Malaysians.
"It makes us lose our sense of balance and fairness. When a certain Chinese lady was appointed head of a state development corporation, having served in that corporation for 33 years, there were protests from Malay groups because she is Chinese,” he said referring to controversy involving the appointment of Low Siew Moi as acting head of the Selangor Development Cooperation (PKNS).
"A new economic vision is necessary, one that is more forward looking in outlook and guided by positive values that would serve to enhance cooperation amongst the races. This will encourage change for the better, to develop new forms of behaviour and shifts of attitudes, to believe that only economic growth will serve social equity, to aspire to a higher standard of living for all regardless of race.
"We need to meaningfully acknowledge that wealth is based on insight, sophisticated human capital and attitude change. A new dynamics focused on cooperation and competition will spur innovation and creativity.
"Some might say that this is a fantasy. I disagree. How do we go about transforming the culture and values of the bumiputeras so that their ability to create new economic wealth can be sustained?
“By changing our political and legal landscapes with freedom and democracy."
On that note, Zaid said Mahathir was right to ask the Malays to embrace modernity but the 82-year-old statesman fell short by only focusing on the physical aspects of modernity.
"He was mistaken to think all that was needed to change the Malay mindset was science and technology. He should have also promoted the values of freedom, human rights and the respect of the law.
"If affirmative action is truly benchmarked on the equitable sharing of wealth that is sustainable, then we must confront the truth and change our political paradigm, 40 years of discrimination and subsidy have not brought us closer. There is a huge economic dimension to the rule of law and democracy that this government must learn to appreciate."
The former law minister conceded that relationship between Islam, the state, law and politics in Malaysia are complex.
"How do we manage legal pluralism in Malaysia? Can a cohesive united Bangsa Malaysia be built on a bifurcated foundation of syariah and secular principles? Will non-Muslims have a say on the operation of Islamic law when it affects the general character and experience of the nation? This is a difficult challenge and the solution has to be found."
Zaid quoted leading Muslim legal scholar Abdullah Ahmad an- Na'im who believed that a distinction should be made between state and politics.
Abdullah Ahmad, he added, believes that Islam can be the mediating instrument between state and politics through the principles and institutions of constitutionalism and the protection of equal human rights of all citizens.
"Whatever the formula, we can only devise a system that rejects absolutism and tyranny and allows for freedom and plurality if we are able to first agree that discourse and dialogue is vital. Democracy and respect for the rights and dignity of all Malaysians is the prerequisite to this approach."
Zaid stressed that the conflicts of jurisdiction in Malaysia requires resolution.
The civil courts, he said, are “denuded of jurisdiction” to deal with matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the syariah courts.
"No court has been given the jurisdiction and power to resolve issues that may arise in both the syariah courts and the civil courts. The present separation of jurisdictions presupposes that matters will fall nicely into one jurisdiction or the other.
"However, human affairs are never that neat. What happens to the children of a marriage where one party converts to Islam and the other party seeks recourse in the civil court? Or when the syariah court pronounces that a deceased person was a Muslim despite his family contesting the conversion?
"Or where the receiver of a company is restrained from dealing with a property by a syariah court order arising out of a family dispute?
"Where do the aggrieved parties go? I had suggested the establishment of the constitutional court, but that plea has fallen on deaf ears."
The former minister had also touched on the use of draconian measures, which according to him had seen a marked increase in dealing with political and social tensions.
"Some people say that groups such as Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) advocate violence and therefore justifies the use of such measures. They may have overlooked the fact that violence begets violence.
"Was not the detention of Hindraf leaders under the Internal Security Act itself an act of aggression, especially to people who consider themselves marginalised and without recourse?
"It is time that the people running this country realise that we will not be able to resolve conflicts and differences peacefully if we ourselves do not value peaceful means in dealing with problems."
Zaid argued that the situation had been aggravated by the absence of an even-handed approach in dealing with organisations such as Hindraf.
"While I applaud the prime minister for calling upon the Indian community to reject extremism, should not a similar call be made on the Malay community and (Malay daily) Utusan Malaysia?
"I call on the prime minister, both the outgoing and the incoming, to deal with such issues fairly. Start by releasing the Hindraf leaders detained under the ISA. The release would create a window for constructive dialogue on underlying causes of resentment.
"I also appeal for the release of (Malaysia Today editor) Raja Petra (Kamarudin) from his ISA detention. He is a champion of free speech. His writings, no matter how offensive they may be to some, cannot by any stretch of the imagination be seen as a threat to the national security of this country."
The Malays, Zaid said, are now a clear majority in numbers and the fear of their being out numbered is baseless.
"They are NOT under seige. The institutions of government are such that the Malays are effectively represented, and there is no way the interest of the Malays can be taken away other than through their own weakness and folly."