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Birth of a Generation of the Liberal Muslim

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment
(This writings appear on Ismaweb and TheMalayMailOnline)

Sept 11th 2001. It was suppose to be a normal day for me at the University of Melbourne. It was not. Everywhere I went; there was a strange feeling, filled with anxiety and nervousness. The city, if not the entire world is in a state of shock. All available news channel kept repeating the same images; planes crashing into the World Trade Center.

The following days are full of uncertainties as more information is made available to the media. The image of the US President announcing that the US is facing a terrorist attack that had never been seen on the US soil and all the security measures that follow. Soon, the war on terror witnessed US intervention worldwide. The event changed the world in its entirety.

In the midst of the anxiety and insecurity, Muslims especially those whom are living in the western society are suffering from backlash; be it physical, verbal and mere stares that cause uneasiness and caution. It was in those situations that things started to change bit by bit.

Muslims whom are living in the non-muslim society, out of the need to be part of the society and to survive as a community tried their best to explain that those terrorist acts are not in line with the true teachings of their religion. Indeed those acts are not and the those whom acted in such ways are misguided. Some of the people I know started to disassociate themselves away from the religion, to the extend that some muslim women gave up their sacred headscarves.

The polarised world that followed September 11th soon becomes more and more polarised. The ultimatum given by then US President divided the world into “those who are with us or with them”.  There seems to be nobody and no country that can just stay somewhere in between.

The polarity also affected the Muslims in general. Many tried their best to disassociate themselves from those who were called extremists or fundamentalists. Many try to don new colours, new images and names like ‘the moderates’, ‘the modernist’, ‘the civilised’ and ‘the liberals’. The fact that those names never got their meaning carefully defined was never in question. Association with those names seems to be more important than what those names really means.

The Question of Survival

The tense environment that those Muslims lived in have also affected the way they live with their religion. This is quite understandable since the pressure is not only in terms of mere public perception. The surveillance programmes that follow; the various raids by the intelligence community; the questioning of their imams and community leaders; the extra scrutiny of the funds and expense of the Muslim organisations, mosques, Islamic schools and welfare organisations, and detention of suspected terrorist elements pushed the Muslim community to ask questions about their long term survival in the western world whom many of them have called home for generations.

The need to survive and be accepted in the western society seems to be so crucial. Some Muslim organisations changed their approach, re-align their focus, redefine certain terms that deemed to be extreme like the word ‘jihad’. Even the text of the weekly sermon on every Friday is tailored and some of the usually recited prayers that asked for the victory of Islam and Muslim over the non-believers are dropped. The theme of the programmes are changed to show more moderation, tolerance and to adapt the universal western values. The stories of the bravery and courage of the companions of the Prophet in the face of non-believers during struggles were silenced while highlights and emphasize is given more to the stories of how loving, merciful and compassionate the Prophets are. Interfaith talks no longer question the truth, but merely to create contact and discussion between the various religions; meaning Islam is placed on the same level as other religions.

The Justification of the Approach

Some of the changes are proven to be fruitful and answered their quest for survival. In some cases those measures even resulted in more acceptance and sometimes conversions of non-muslim into Islam. Some organisations are even being recognised by the state or the country they operated in, receiving grants for their centers, programmes, mosques and activities. The newly built trust and the support received convinced those involved that these are the way to go. They can live as Muslims in a peaceful manner in the western society.

This new ‘success’ also gave rise to a new generation of leaders and scholars. The temporary measures that were means of survival becomes as a new interpretation of Islam. Some of the words that were dropped from their vocabulary earlier now seems to be very foreign. Where is the place for Jihad, the shari’a law, the needs to live Islam as a complete way of life, the need to have a supreme leader, a khilafa? There is no place for such words.

Furthermore, every aspect of Islamic teachings now needs to be redefined to be in line with the so-called the universal values such as absolute freedom and human rights. These redefinition and justification exercise happens in many ways, sometime based purely on logical reasoning and in some other instances using the original text of the Quran and hadith albeit in different interpretation.

Soon, these liberal, so-called moderate scholars become the source for reference in any issues. Some of the interpretations of the teachings of Islam departed from its core values, source and discipline.  The new interpretations have no place for the difference between the male and female, where any difference will be called discriminatory. These new interpretations of Islam have no place for any laws that deemed to infringe upon the rights of an individual in any forms. What is left of the religion are a set of personal choices that any individual can choose to agree or not. No state shall interfere in those choices and nobody can claim to be more knowledgeable about the religion than anyone else, since everybody can be able to use their mind to interpret any religious text according to their whims and fancies.

This is the background of some of the Muslim leaders and scholars that we see are speaking in the name of Islam today. The events that resulted in the birth of this generation seem to continue to be played in the mainstream media. The idea that has been widely accepted now is that Muslims need to be liberalized, to be moderate or else they will become extremists or fundamentalists.

Back to the first principle

The truth is completely the opposite. In any other matters in our world, we are taught that whenever we faced any issues, we need to go back to the first principle. At least, this is what I learned in my engineering courses. In resolving any issues concerning the Muslims, we need to go back to the first principle, the fundamentals, the true teachings of Islam that have given solution not only to Muslims, but whole of mankind. Leaving any parts of these teachings is an act of extremism. Adding foreign ideas into Islam that do not belong to it are also a form of extremism.

In other words, those so-called liberals and moderates are just as extreme and misguided as those whom they have tried to dissociate themselves from,  those terrorist whom had committed the act of terror, whoever they are.

Zaizul Azizi Zaman
Activist
Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia

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Polemik kalimah Allah: Pembohongan media & gambaran yang salah

October 28, 2013 2 comments

October 28, 2013 

(Artikel ini telah disiarkan di portal ISMAWEB)

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Sejak keputusan Mahkamah Rayuan pada 14 oktober 2013 yang melarang penggunaan kalimah Allah oleh majalah Kristian Katolik The Herald, isu ini kelihatan menjadi satu polemik yang mengundang pelbagai komen di luar konteks keputusan tersebut.

Kita melihat pelbagai liputan yang seolah-olah memberi gambaran bahawa penganut Kristian di Malaysia dizalimi dan keputusan Mahkamah Rayuan itu tidak berasas. Keluarlah dalam pelbagai media, kartun-kartun, karikatur, lawak jenaka dan pelbagai anologi yang tidak munasabah. Amat malang juga apabila mereka yang terdiri daripada golongan cerdik pandai turut sama mengeluarkan kenyataan yang di luar konteks. Turut juga memberi komen dalam isu ini adalah tokoh-tokoh Islam luar negara yang memberi kenyataan tanpa melihat isu sebenar dalam penghakiman tersebut.

Penghakiman Mahkamah Rayuan baru-baru ini bukan melarang orang kafir daripada menyebut kalimah Allah. Sebutlah kalimah Allah dan cubalah untuk mengenali Allah dengan sebenar-benarnya. Apa yang dilarang adalah penggunaan kalimah Allah oleh majalah Kristian yang terang-terangan bertujuan untuk menyebarkan ajaran Kristian kepada orang Melayu Islam. Penggunaan kalimah Allah adalah salah satu cara untuk menunjukkan bahawa dakyah Kristian yang mereka bawa sebenarnya amat dekat di hati umat Islam. Inilah strategi mereka yang disebut “contextualization”.

Untuk memahami apa yang dimaksudkan dengan “contextualization” ini, mari kita perhatikan gambar-gambar di bawah.

Contextualization

Dalam gambar di atas, Maryam digambarkan dengan gambaran yang menyerupai masyarakat setempat yang menjadi sasaran dakyah kristian. Strategi contextualisation merupakan satu pintu masuk, satu cara supaya dakyah mereka mudah diterima, dekat di hati sasaran mereka, meggunakan pelbagai imej, istilah, nama dan perkataan yang telah biasa didengari. Penggunaan nama Allah dalam The Herald adalah salah satu manifestasi strategi ini, yang membuka pintu-pintu baru kepada dakyah mereka. Bayangkan, orang Melayu Islam akan merasa janggal untuk hadir ke gereja atas apa jua alasan, namun kejanggalan tersebut tidak akan lagi ketara sekiranya gereja nanti disebut sebagai rumah Allah!

Aktivis yang terpedaya

Sesetengah aktivis dan para pendakwah Islam  berpendapat bahawa penguatkuasaan larangan sebegini akan hanya menjauhkan orang kafir daripada dakwah mereka. Mereka menggunakan pelbagai istilah seperti tolak-ansur atau toleransi, mengurus perbezaan secara berhikmah atau mengajak supaya isu ini ditangani dengan dialog dan tidak perlu dibawa ke mahkamah.

Kita perlu meneliti isu ini daripada awal, dan bukan hanya melihat keputusan ini sebagai satu-satunya peristiwa. (sila rujuk kronologi isu ini di sini->http://www.ismaweb.net/v4/2013/08/kronologi-penghakiman-isu-kalimah-allah/). Pembohongan yang berlaku di pelbagai media sekarang cuba menenggelamkan fakta bahawa kumpulan missionary Kristian inilah yang sebenarnya menggugat struktur masyarakat sedia ada. Malaysia yang agama persekutuannya ialah Islam sememangnya telah mempunyai peruntukan undang-undang yang mengawal penyebaran agama lain di kalangan orang Islam. Kerajaan Malaysia melalui Kementerian Dalam Negeri menggunakan kuasa sedia ada dalam mengawal permit penerbitan akhbar dan majalah untuk membendung dakyah kristianisasi yang cuba dilaksanakan oleh majalah The Herald. Akhirnya, setelah melalui  beberapa fasa amaran dan permit bersyarat daripada KDN, pihak Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur telah mencabar keputusan KDN di mahkamah pada dalam tahun 2009. Sekali lagi, isu penyalahgunaan kalimah Allah ini bukan dibawa ke mahkamah oleh orang Islam, tetapi dibawa ke mahkamah oleh pihak missionary Kristian!

Dengan jelasnya fakta ini, maka tidak sepatutnya sesetengah aktivis dan pendakwah Islam menidakkan keputusan mahkamah dan berundur ke belakang, seolah-olah usaha dialog dan perbincangan tidak pernah wujud. Kenapa setelah beberapa tahun isu ini di mahkamah dan setelah keputusan berpihak kepada KDN, barulah pihak-pihak ini beria-ria mengusulkan kepada penyelesaian berhikmah? Kita perlu menyedari bahawa kita berada dalam suasana yang mana kita sedang menghadapi serangan. Wajarkah setelah kita berjaya mempertahankan diri daripada serangan kali ini, kita pula yang beria-ria untuk berlembut? Bukankah kita sepatutnya bersatu hati dan cuba mempersiapkan diri sebelum menghadapi serangan seterusnya? Lebih patut lagi sebenarnya untuk kita yang memulakan serangan, menutup segala pintu masuk kepada ancaman yang dibawa oleh dakyah sesat ini, dan menyedarkan semua pihak tentang bahaya yang menanti sekiranya kita terus dengan kelalaian dan tidak sensitif dengan perancangan pihak yang mahu mengganggu gugat keamanan dan keharmonian yang sedia wujud.

Amatlah janggal orang yang cuma memburukkan imej agama Islam dengan komen-komen di luar konteks. Isu sebenar di hadapan kita adalah agenda kristianisasi yang mengancam umat dan bukannya menyekat orang-orang bukan Islam daripada mengenal Allah.

Berfatwa tanpa mengenal realiti

Pelbagai media yang ada juga secara jahat mengambil pandangan para ulama luar negara tanpa penjelasan yang wajar. Saya percaya mana-mana tokoh ulama Islam akan menjawab bahawa kalimah Allah bukan milik eksklusif umat Islam. Mereka juga akan menjawab bahawa adalah sesuatu yang tidak wajar untuk menyekat orang bukan Islam daripada menyebut nama Allah. Kedua-dua jawapan ini adalah respon yang benar, bahkan saya juga mempersetujuinya. Namun perlu diingat sekali lagi, persoalan sebenarnya yang patut ditimbulkan adalah adakah wajar mana-mana kerajaan negara Islam membiarkan penyebaran agama lain dan pemurtadan umat Islam dibiarkan berleluasa? Inilah isu yang sebenarnya. Saya percaya bahkan amat yakin bahawa para ulama tersebut akan bersetuju bahawa mana-mana kerajaan umat Islam mempunyai tanggungjawab untuk menutup mana-mana pintu kepada agenda memurtadkan orang Islam bahkan golongan sebegini sepatutnya dihukum dengan sekeras-keras hukuman.

Gadaian politik

Sebenarnya pihak yang memusuhi agama Islam amat pandai mengeksploitasi segala kelemahan umat. Kita dapat menilai daripada isu penyalahgunaan kalimah Allah ini, betapa umat Islam begitu lemah dan terperangkap dalam kerangka politik sempit. PAS selaku Parti Islam tidak sesekali akan menyokong apa yang dilakukan oleh pihak kerajaan walaupun dalam isu sebesar ini. Walaupun terdapat segelintir kecil ulamak PAS yang bersuara, namun suara mereka tenggelam oleh pendirian rasmi Pakatan Rakyat dalam isu ini. Pihak kerajaan pula, walaupun berada di pihak yang menang seakan-akan takut untuk mencanang kemenangan yang dicapai dan memperkukuh mekanisme sedia ada untuk menyekat usaha memurtadkan umat Islam, bahkan lebih malang lagi apabila beberapa menteri membuat kenyataan seolah-olah memperkecilkan isu kalimah Allah ini, barangkali kerana tidak mahu menggugat sokongan yang mereka sentiasa perolehi daripada Sabah dan Sarawak. Sampai bilakah isu umat Islam akan terus menjadi barang gadaian yang sedia untuk dipertaruhkan atas survival politik?

Zaizul Azizi Zaman
Aktivis
Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia 

The Colours of Autumn

October 7, 2013 Leave a comment

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It is a sunny day in autumn
My bubbly little girl curiously questioned
Why the leaves becomes red, oh dad?
Oh my dear this is the season called autumn

In fact red is not the only colour
Each tree is unique and so do each leaf
As if each and every one had chosen their own
And the mix become the colours of autumn

Some are fiery red and some are pink
And some more are somewhere in between
There are yellow and there are bright orange
And many more are somewhere in between

While some colours continue to change
As if every day is a transition
As the autumn passing towards the end
And yet some trees continue to stay green

The mix and the colours and the varieties we’ve seen
The changes and transition and those which stay the same
Making the scenery more scenic and breathtaking
All those are not merely coincidence

What have made the colours changed?
Is it the time, the temperature or the sun?
Why each and every leaf behaves in different?
Is it simply because of the autumn?

As my mind continue to think
What kind of answer should I have given?
As I continue to be drown in appreciation
Words alone are just lost in translation

Then I remember a verse that said
Not a single leaf fall without Him knowing
And there is nothing that might have happen
Except those that He have given permission

Just like the leaves that are so colourful
In all shapes and sizes and colours in front of you
All of those will one day be fallen
At a fixed time that He had chosen

And I am humbled by the simple question
And the simple answer that I have given
A reminder in case I have forgotten
That all those that have just happened
Simply not just because of the AUTUMN

“With Him are the keys of the unseen, the treasures that none knoweth but He. He knoweth whatever there is on the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf doth fall but with His knowledge: there is not a grain in the darkness (or depths) of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry (green or withered), but is (inscribed) in a record clear (to those who can read).” Holy Quran, Al-An’am (The Cattle) [6:59]

Zaizul A. Zaman, La Mauricie National Park, 6th Oct 2013

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Categories: Sharing, The World