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Raising a child: Where culture and religion crossed

February 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Shalwaty n AzizulPasangan-Sweden

(This piece was published in Portal Islam & Melayu)

Reading the newspaper report on the ongoing trial of the Malaysian couple in Swedish Court makes me felt troubled. Troubled that what have been so accepted in my culture and even being commanded by the Prophet Muhammad in one of his famous hadith are being subjected to examination using a law that is so foreign and so misleading. Abu Dawud narrated in an authentic hadith that Prophet Muhammad said: “Order your children to pray at the age of seven. And beat them [lightly] if they do not do so by the age of ten. And separate them in their bedding.”

The hadith clearly stated that children need to be taught to pray by the age of seven and to be punished physically if the child refused to pray by the age of ten. Domestic corporal punishments in the forms of small slap on the wrist, pinch or spanking as a means of disciplining a child is not just accepted, rather commanded and commended when it is executed in the right manner whenever the need arise. That is my belief and it will not change just because a country like Sweden enforced a law that banned it.

I am examining this from my own experience growing up and seeing how children are raised in many cultures and religions. I am ever grateful to be raised by a very loving parents whom aside from the abundance of love, sufficient food and nourishment, clothings and other physical needs and wants, but also do not ever hesitated to discipline me whenever they need to be strict and stern, to ensure that I grow up within the boundary of culture and religion. I am grateful that such strict upbringing and the occasional beatings that I received molded me into who I am today. I am a product of such upbringing and I do vision that will be the same way I am raising my four children today.

The religion of Islam which forms the core part of our culture is truly a religion that suits the need of the mankind. This is the religion of moderation which does not only embody the values and norms but also come with a practical ways of realising those values and norms. The creator of the mankind prescribed this religion in such a way that it will fit the human nature in all its virtues as well as addressing the fact that mankind may become strayed at times, in which certain disciplining and punishment is necessary.

Let me portray this using Islam’s perspective of moral values as an example. Allah says in various sentences in the Quran, such as in the Chapter As-Shams (91:7-10) that Allah have given inspiration to mankind that one shall be able to differentiate between good and evil, and the one who will succeed is those who purifies their soul and those who choose to corrupt their soul are those whom have failed. The teachings of Islam do not stop there, just by defining that good and evil exist. Rather the teaching went on further to describe the reward of doing goods and the punishment of following the evil route in life and more over in the Hereafter. And the teachings do not stop there either. The teachings continue, to not only leave the freedom to choose between good and evil to oneself, rather Islam promotes the act of calling for goodness and piety and preventing and prohibiting evil as a family, a society and later the same role needs to be exercise by a nation. Do the teaching stop there? After fostering the environment that promotes good and preventing evil, this religion, by the wisdom of Allah, the All-Wise, acknowledge that in such environment, there will still be some people who will commit wrongdoings, hence the worldly punishment is prescribed and commanded. The teachings of Islam come as comprehensive methods, addressing all aspect of human being and are not to taken in bits and pieces.

The same method and principles are applied in raising a child. According to Dr Abdullah Naseh Ulwan in his book, “Tarbiyah Al-Aulad fi Al-Islam”, the responsibility of a parent in raising a child started in the very beginning, when a man choose a mother for his future child or a women choose a father for her future child. This responsibility of the parents continues in the form of performing a proper marriage, continues throughout the relationship between husband and wife, throughout the pregnancy, child birth, providing sustenance, providing education, nurturing the thoughts and belief, instilling moral values, shaping the behaviour and the entire worldview and ultimately realising the roles in the world as the servant for the Almighty Lord, Allah the one and only.

All these are achieved through love and care, balancing the physical growth in height and weight as well as the mental, emotional and spiritual aspect of growth. In doing so, there are situation that require gentleness and affecetion, there are situation where verbal encouragement and reminders are required, and there will be situation where restrain, a certain amount of anger and punishment is necessary, all in the name of raising a child in the best manner as prescribed by the Lord. Of course, all of these must be within certain limits and should never inflict injury to the child. This is the definition of raising a child that I knew.

Living in a western environment, previously in Australia and currently in Canada, I can see huge differences in this definition. I can certainly appreciate various incentives given to those with children in terms of tax deductions, long maternity (and paternity) leave,  financial assistance and government subsidies, various initiatives to ensure that any child can grow in a safe environment and various laws to protect children and ensure that every child shall be able to access basic education and health services. However I do realised that most of the attention are focused on the physical nature of growth while emphasis on values and belief system is lacking. Everybody seems to be left to their own ‘free-will’ no matter how good or bad.

Contrary to all the emphasis given in supporting the physical growth of a child, the system seems to suggest that parents have no role in nurturing the moral values and belief system within a child. The child should not be subjected to any religious teaching as a child at home, and since the public school system must be independent of any religion, the question of religion will ultimately be decided by the child when the mature age of the child is reached. The child should be raised based on their own will, interest and whims and fancies and no one including the parents should be interfering in their decisions in life no matter how bad the child’s judgement is.

As a consequence of such system, I am seeing a declining number of child being raised albeit all the incentive that were made ready for them. Raising a child in general are perceived as troublesome, financially burdening, emotionally stressing, freedom limiting and ultimately do not yield anything worth doing. With all the sacrifice by parents in raising a child, the child will be a free man or woman by the mature age and no parents should have any control of the child. They are free to move out, live their own life and the elderly parents will then head to the retirement home as a couple or even alone. The parents might as well choose not to be a parent, not to have any child and in their sense ‘live their lives to the fullest’, without having to worry about raising a child from the very beginning. This is what I am seeing now. People in my neighbourhood are seems to be more content to have dogs as pets as compared to having a child.

Seeing the experience Shalwaty and Azizul is currently facing and the emotional and spiritual sufferings of their children in the foster care prior to returning to Malaysia, and now living far away from their parents makes me wonder, are these emotional and spiritual sufferings have any meaning to the Swedish? Truly, we are world apart from the very definition of raising a child. Truly we are on different paths that I do not see where the paths may meet.

And I will continue raising my children my way. No matter what. This is what I have learned in my religion, Islam.

Zaizul Azizi Zaman
ISMA Activist

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Islam Manhaj Perubahan

January 25, 2014 1 comment

Manhaj perubahan adalah kefahaman terhadap cara bagaimana sesebuah perubahan itu dilaksanakan. Apabila kita meneliti senario umat Islam hari ini, dan menilai bagaimana sesebuah gerakan Islam itu bergerak, sebenarnya banyak kepelbagaian kaedah dan cara kerja gerakan Islam adalah berpunca daripada perbezaan manhaj perubahan yang mereka imani.

Saya bawakan beberapa contoh dalam meneliti manhaj perubahan.

  1. Ada pihak yang yakin bahawa kaedah mengubah nasib umat terletak kepada kekuatan ekonomi. Bertitik tolak daripada kefahaman ini, mereka bertungkus lumus cuba meningkatkan taraf ekonomi umat.
  2. Ada pihak yang meyakini bahawa nasib umat perlu diubah dengan memperbaiki iman masyarakat. Usaha-usaha dilakukan untuk menyemai iman dalam hati pengikut mereka. Gerak kerja mereka berlegar di sekitar masjid dan ibadah-ibadah khusus semata-mata.
  3. Ada pihak yang meyakini bahawa satu-satunya jalan perubahan adalah dengan doa. Kata mereka bukankan doa adala senjata orang beriman? Mereka pun tenggelam dalam doa-doa mereka, mencari saat maqbulnya doa pergi ke pelbagai tempat yang afdhal untuk berdoa.
  4. Ada juga pihak yang mengatakan bahawa satu-satunya jalan perubahan adalah dengan memiliki kekuasaan. Apabila kuasa telah berada pada tangan mereka, barulh Islam dapat dilaksanakan.
  5. Ada pihak juga yang meyakini bahawa perubahan yang dianjurkan oleh Islam cuma bersifat spiritual dan tiada kaitan dengan dunia dan perjalanan kehidupan. Islam cumalah agama untuk memastikan kebahagiaan di akhirat semata-mata.
  6. Di sana juga ada kelompok yang mendakwa bahawa Islam cuma boleh dilaksanakan dengan jalan jihad dan peperangan. Maka lahirlah kelompok yang menghalalkan pertumpahan darah atas nama agama, tanpa hujah yang jelas.
  7. Ada juga kelompok yang mengatakan bahawa manhaj perubahan dalam Islam ialah dengan akhlak yang baik, lunak dan lemah lembut, tanpa langsung memerlukan kuasa dan kekuatan.

Contoh-contoh yang saya bawakan mungkin kelihatan agak simplistic, namun hakikatnya inilah logik yang digunakan sebagai hujah untuk membenarkan kefahaman masing-masing. Nas- nas daripada Al-Quran dan Sunnah di petik-petik secara terpilih dan diterjemah untuk menyokong kefahaman masing-masing.

Pengajaran daripada Al-Quran, Sirah Rasulullah dan sunnah yang kita warisi daripada sahabat-sahabat baginda perlu ditelaah daripada perspektif yang syumul dengan disiplin ilmunya yang tersendiri. Sekiranya, Islam ditafsirkan dan diterjemah secara terpisah-pisah, maka kaedah-kaedah simplistik sepertimana contoh di atas adalah antara hasil yang pasti.

Keupayaan dalam menterjemah pengajaran daripada sumber yang shahih, dengan kaedah dan disiplin ilmu yang tepat sebenarnya amat diperlukan supaya akhirnya ilmu-ilmu Islam ini tidak cuma tinggal teori yang terpisah daripada realiti semasa. Kegagalan mengaplikasikan ilmu-ilmu ini akhirnya menyebabkan Islam kelihatan jumud, tidak relevan, kolot dan tidak sesuai lagi digunapakai.

Sebenarnya Islam adalah sebuah manhaj yang syumul yang telah terbukti kejayaan perlaksanaannya. Kita melihat bagaimana kedatangan Islam telah mengubah perjalananan dunia dan mengangkat martabat bangsa Arab menjadi peneraju dunia berabad lamanya. Perubahan yang di bawa oleh Rasulullah adalah perubahan yang syumul yang merangkumi aspek spiritual dan keimanan, emosi dan perasaan, intelek dan kecerdikan mahupun aspek kekuatan jasmani, fizikal dan material. Perubahan yang dibawa oleh Rasulullah bermula daripada perubahan manusia itu sendiri, mengubah tujuan hidupnya, mengubah keinginan dan kehendaknya, mengubah halatuju perjalanan hidupnya. Kelompok manusia inilah yang berusaha membawa perubahan dalam masyarakat sekitarnya, dalam negaranya, dan dalam dunianya. Di sana ada peranan qudwah melalui akhlak yang baik, ada peranan hujah dan dialog, ada tempatnya memerlukan kuasa, kekerasan dan jihad. Mengabaikan kesyumulan aspek perubahan dan mengenepikan kaedah-kaedah tertentu dan memencilkan perlaksanaan Islam dalam konteks yang sempit adalah kesimpulan yang salah.

Marilah kita memahami Islam dan manhajnya yang syumul. Itulah titik mula perubahan dalam diri kita.

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Loving the enemy?

January 19, 2014 Leave a comment

58_22

I was refreshing my memorization of the chapter Al-Mujadalah this morning. In the the last verse, i was deeply touched by its meaning:

22. Thou wilt not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, loving those who resist Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein (for ever). Allah will be well pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of Allah. Truly it is the Party of Allah that will achieve Felicity.(58.22)

I was contemplating about the current issues in Malaysia where relation between Musllim and Non-Muslim was tested time and again. Some of the issues have been politicised too much that we loose focus on the real events that are happening.

The Muslim Ummah in Malaysia are too divided into their own political spectrum that all issues, including those pertaining to the Muslim and Islam are subjected to this political inclination. All decision and opinion are based on how much these issues will affect their political aspiration.

Trapped in this political spectrum, some will choose to stay silent if their stance is deemed to be politically unpopular. Many issues are not clearly addressed based on the Islamic principles, and again political correctness took control over any other factors.

Some of the Muslim group then clearly misinterpret the general idea about tolerance, peace and hikmah (which often be translated as wisdom). These values, up to certain extent is part of the message of Islam. However, they may have forgotten that such values are limited to some circumstances and in other circumstances other values may take precedences. There are places where Islam require harshest punishment, and there are conditions where love and mercy are prohibited.

Just like the meaning of verse that I have quoted above, clearly there is no love for those who clearly are the enemy of Islam. Dealing with Non-Muslim, we need to be clear whom are those who are our audience in spreading the word of Islam, and whom are those who clearly is the enemy of Islam and Muslim through their words and action. And of course, these two are not the same and needed to be engaged with using different approaches.

Suicide: How cheap life can be?

December 25, 2013 Leave a comment


zc-percentage-total-suicides-by-method-2000-2003-ca-2007-us

A few days ago, we were visited at home by a volunteer worker, braving heavy snow just to deliver a pamphlet promoting help and support for anyone whom may have any suicidal thought.

In our short conversation, the volunteer informed us that based on the statistics; suicide happened more often during the Christmas holiday season when people whom suffered the loss of loved ones really feels the loss during this time of the year. Often those whom are surviving the holiday season in solitude tend to be more depressed in the cold winter holidays.

In my short, less than a year stay in this part of the world, I have been hearing about suicide all too often. There are cases of teenagers whom committed suicide due to cyber bullying in the social media, there are cases of victims of sexual harassment whom took their own live. And very recently there are 4 cases of suicides in less than 2 weeks among the soldiers whom have recently returned from their tour of duty in Afghanistan. Those suicides prompted widespread media coverage on the lack of support available to the war veterans who is facing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-PTSD.

On another note, Quebec National Assembly recently tabled a new bill being labelled as “Dying with Dignity Bill” to legalise euthanasia or medical-assisted suicide for those terminally ill patient who choose to end their sufferings.

One might wonder why on earth, especially in a developed country like Canada, there are people who had chosen death over life. After all, this is not a country ravaged with wars or affected by drought or famine and relatively speaking is very safe and has plenty of support given to its people.

This is a country that ensures the workers at any level can earn a decent pay for any job that they do, with the minimum wages are in place. This is the country where people whom loss their job are entitled to almost 70% of their usual pay by claiming their Employment Insurance. The system is described according to their website as “Employment Insurance (EI) provides temporary financial assistance to unemployed Canadians who have lost their job through no fault of their own, while they look for work or upgrade their skills. Canadians who are sick, pregnant, or caring for a newborn or adopted child, as well as those who must care for a family member who is seriously ill with a significant risk of death or who must provide care or support to their critically ill or injured child may also be assisted by Employment Insurance.”

In this country, so much entitlement are given to be able to raise a family with long paid maternity and parental leave for about a year and yet not many people want to have children because of the way they value their life.

Up to this stage, one thing that I can conclude from my observation is that it boils down to the value a person gives to his or her life, the meaning of life itself. If to live is just for the sake of living with no other consequence, then you might as well choose to end your life when it is no more fun to live. If life is about enjoying then what is the need of living when it is no more enjoyable? After all, they say that this is your life and you should have the freedom to choose how you want to live it and by the same token, you should be able to choose how you want it to be ended.

This concept of life is very different when I look from a Muslim perspective. Our live is not simply ours. Our life does not simply belong to us. It is a trust, given to us for a specified time for a specific reason, where all our deeds will be accounted for and we will be answerable to whatever decision we have made, good or bad. This is a one single chance for us to live in the best manner that we can and there will be consequences, reward and punishment. There are specific rules that have been set and we need to obey, and ending your life is not an option.

Without this mission, why bother living?

Suicide Table 2001

Neraca kita berbeza?

November 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Muntalaq

Saya memetik beberapa perenggan daripada buku Al-Muntalaq oleh Sheikh Muhammad Bin Ahmad Ar-Rashid.

Kebenaran petikan di atas semakin jelas terbentang di hadapan saya, apabila saya meneliti peristiwa-peristiwa yang menimpa umat Islam di seluruh dunia, dan secara khususnya di Malaysia.

Berhadapan dengan rentetan peristiwa yang belaku sejak beberapa tahun kebelakangan ini, saya meyakini bahawa perbezaan yang ketara daripada respon pelbagai organisasi umat Islam ke atas peristiwa-peristiwa tersebut adalah sebenarnya berpunca daripada perbezaan neraca pertimbangan yang digunakan dalam menganalisa dan menilai setiap sesuatu. Perbezaan neraca ini membawa kepada interpretasi yang berbeza, yang kemudiannya menjurus kepada reaksi yang berbeza.

Perbezaan neraca ini juga memungkin mereka yang membaca buku yang sama, mempelajari kisah yang sama, melihat peristiwa yang sama, namun akhirnya membuat kesimpulan yang berbeza dan mengambil pengajaran yang berbeza.

Persoalannya, reaksi yang manakah yang paling hampir dengan kebenaran?

Atau adakah di sana tiada lagi istilah benar dan salah kerana setiap orang berhak membuat penilaian mereka sendiri?

Categories: Bangsaku, Sharing, The World Tags: , ,

Islam: Identiti negara yang perlu dipertahankan

November 4, 2013 Leave a comment

{Tulisan ini telah disiarkan di laman web rasmi Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA)}

Saya berpeluang untuk sampai ke pelbagai buah negara di seluruh dunia. Ada yang saya singgah sebentar, ada yang saya menetap untuk tempoh yang lama. Dalam siri-siri perbualan sepanjang permusafiran ini, antara pemerhatian yang saya dapat simpulkan adalah, Malaysia dikagumi sebagai sebuah negara Islam yang sedang pesat membangun dan memiliki pencapaian dalam pelbagai bidang. Identiti Islam sememangnya telah diterima sebagai sebahagian daripada identiti negara. Bahkan, ada kalangan mereka yang terkejut apabila saya nyatakan bahawa orang Muslim di Malaysia adalah cuma lebih kurang 60% daripada keseluruhan penduduk, kerana sangkaan mereka peratusan orang Muslim melebihi 90% berdasarkan imej negara yang mereka kenal.

Namun isu identiti negara ini sememangnya perlu dilihat dengan lebih teliti disebabkan oleh dua realiti yang amat ketara pada pandangan saya. Realiti pertama ialah, sekiranya kita teliti perlaksanaan Islam di Malaysia dengan terperinci, sebenarnya apa yang membentuk imej atau identiti negara Islam itu cuma terbatas kepada perkara yang bersifat syiar atau simbol semata-mata sedangkan pengamalan Islam dalam semua aspek kehidupan belum pun terlaksana sepenuhnya. Realiti yang kedua yang perlu kita sedari ialah betapa syiar-syiar agama Islam yang ada pada hari ini pun sedang diganggu-gugat dan kelihatan seperti sedang dirombak satu persatu.

Realiti Pertama: Perlaksanaan Islam pada syiar semata-mata?

Realiti pertama yang saya sebutkan di atas, adalah satu tafsiran saya kepada suasana semasa. Malaysia dilihat sebagai sebuah negara Islam kerana masih dipimpin oleh pemimpin beragama Islam, dengan Islam tertulis dalam perlembagaan sebagai agama persekutuan, dengan adanya bacaan doa dalam majlis-majlis rasmi, dengan adanya institusi-institusi kerajaan yang berkait dengan agama Islam, dengan hari-hari kebesaran Islam diraikan sebagai cuti umum, dengan wujudnya sistem mahkamah syariah, perbankan Islam, universiti Islam dan wujudnya masjid-masjid yang menjadi sebahagian daripada landskap negara dan sebagainya.

Namun, adakah perlaksanaan Islam di Malaysia telah terlaksana sepenuhnya? Terus-terang bagi saya tidak sama sekali. Penghayatan Islam dalam ertikata melaksanakan ubudiyyah atau penghambaan sepenuhnya kepada Allah dalam segenap aspek kehidupan sebenarnya belum terlaksana. Kita cuma berhukum dengan undang-undang Islam dalam beberapa aspek tertentu dalam ruang lingkup yang sempit. Kita cuma menggunapakai beberapa asas dalam ekonomi Islam dalam sistem kapitalis dan sistem matawang dunia yang tidak selari dengan hukum-hakam Islam. Kita cuma mempelajari Islam sebagai salah satu subjek dalam kurikulum sekolah-sekolah kita. Kita cuma menggunakan beberapa penyelesaian yang bersifat Islam secara tempel-tempelan, untuk menyelesaikan permasalahan yang timbul daripada sistem hidup yang tidak berasaskan Islam.

Tidak keterlaluan sekiranya saya katakan Islam cuma ‘digunakan’ dalam suasana yang membolehkan kita mendapat manfaat semata-mata, sebagaimana beberapa ayat Quran digunakan untuk memberi motivasi kepada pelajar dan pekerja, sebagaimana juga beberapa petikan ayat Quran dan Haadith yang cuma digunakan untuk mengubat masalah depresi dan menghilangkan tekanan. Tidak keterlaluan juga jika saya katakan bahawa bagi sesetengah umat Islam, apa yang tinggal cuma amalan-amalan ritual yang tiada kaitan langsung dengan kehidupan mereka.

Adakah kita berpada dengan pencapaian kita dalam perlaksanaan Islam yang ada pada hari ini? Sesekali tidak, kita tidak akan berpada dengan apa yang ada, malah kita sepatutnya terus berusaha ke arah pengamalan Islam yang menyeluruh baik dari segi syiar mahupun dari segi maknanya. Baik dalam bentuk yang zahir mahupun perkara yang bersifat dalaman. Baik dalam perlaksanaan ritual-ritual, mahupun maksud yang sepatutnya dicapai daripada ritual tersebut.

Perubahan tidak bermula dari kosong

Apabila kita nyatakan bahawa kita tidak berpada dengan apa yang ada, kita juga tidak menidakkan pencapaian yang sudah sedia dicapai. Kita tidak sesekali menafikan usaha-usaha pembaikan yang telah pun diusahakan dalam pelbagai bentuk oleh mana-mana pihak sekalipun. Amat malang sekiranya ada pihak yang cuba untuk merombak pencapaian sedia ada atas alasan untuk menegakkan Islam yang sebenarnya. Islah atau usaha pembaikan tidak bermula daripada kosong, malah sebenarnya perlu dibina atas asas dan pencapaian sedia ada. Tindakan menidakkan apa yang telah dicapai sebenarnya adalah tindakan yang berundur ke belakang dan hanya akan merugikan umat Islam.

Realiti Kedua: Usaha merombak Identiti Sedia Ada

Banyak usaha yang telah dibuat oleh pihak-pihak tidak bertanggungjawab secara sedar dan terancang mahupun secara tidak langsung atau dipergunakan oleh pihak lain yang matlamat akhir mereka adalah untuk merungkai segenap perkara yang berkait dengan identiti Islam ini.

Sebagai salah satu contoh kewujudan usaha ini, saya bawakan apa yang telah dipamerkan untuk menggambarkan identiti negara kita Malaysia dalam Shanghai World Expo 2010. Antara yang menjadi tarikan pameran adalah pusat hiburan dan judi terkemuka di Genting Highland, gambar beberapa buah gereja, sejarah berkaitan masyarakat Cina peranakan (Baba Nyonya di Melaka) dan beberapa hasil seni berkaitan dengan agama Hindu. Penonjolan identiti negara dengan cara sebegini bukanlah satu isu remeh dan perlu dipersoalkan dengan terperinci. Apakah imej negara yang cuba ditonjolkan? Walaupun atas alasan `marketing` untuk menarik pelancong sekalipun, adakah kita mahu tonjolkan identiti negara kita melalui industri judi, gereja dan patung Hindu?

Mari kita perhatikan identiti-identiti yang mewakili negara kita Malaysia di mata dunia sekarang dan kita cuba fikirkan apa imej negara yang akan kita sedang tonjolkan di pentas dunia. Adakah negara Malaysia akan terus dikenali sebagai negara Islam dalam jangka masa sepuluh tahun lagi?

Usaha terbaru yang baru diwarwarkan untuk membina kuil Hindu di Klang yang disifatkan sebagai bakal menjadi tarikan pelancong ke Malaysia dengan peruntukan tambahan sebanyak RM10 juta daripada kerajaan perlu dilihat sebagai salah satu perkara yang bakal menyumbang kepada pembinaan identiti negara. Adakah kita perlukan kuil sedemikian sebagai salah satu identiti negara? Tidak cukupkah untuk kita gambarkan betapa kita memiliki toleransi agama yang cukup tinggi dengan wujudnya Pusat Pengembangan Agama Kristian terbesar di Asia bernama Calvary Convention Center? Tidak cukupkah dengan Malaysia memiliki patung emas Lord Murugan setinggi 42.7 meter di Batu Caves? Tidak cukupkah Malaysia memiliki patung Buddha sedang berbaring di Kelantan? Tidak cukupkah Malaysia dikenal sebagai pusat perjudian terkemuka Genting Highlands? Sekali lagi saya bawakan persoalan, apakah identiti negara Malaysia masa akan datang?

Dalam masa yang sama juga usaha-usaha untuk membawa masuk dan mengimport segala macam perkara daripada luar terus berlaku dengan pesatnya. Apa jua halangan dalam bentuk undang-undang, peraturan-peraturan dan peruntukan perlembagaan yang berkait dengan pemeliharaan identiti sedia ada dicabar satu persatu. Masyarakat Malaysia didedahkan dengan segenap perkara daripada luar atas nama globalisasi, hak asasi dan kebebasan media. Segala perkara yang membatasi usaha ini, seperti sekatan ke atas buku Irshad Manji, sekatan penggunaan perkataan-perkataan tertentu dalam penerbitan Kristian, sekatan ke atas penyebaran Al-Kitab yang dikatakan Bible dalam Bahasa Melayu, dan usaha-usaha ‘censorship’ akan dipersoalkan dan ditentang habis-habisan.

Jalan Keluar

Menghadapi dua realiti ini, menuntut rakyat Malaysia untuk kembali menilai pencapaian semasa dan menghargai keharmonian sedia ada. Umat Islam secara khususnya perlu keluar daripada zon selesa dan bertanya kepada diri sendiri, apakah identiti negara yang kita mahukan di tanah air kita ini? Adakah kita akan berpada dengan apa yang ada sedangkan apa yang tinggal pun sedang dirombak satu persatu.

Tentunya usaha mempertahankan pencapaian semata-mata tidak mencukupi. Usaha-usaha memperkasakan perlaksanaan Islam dalam segenap aspek kehidupan perlu dipesatkan dengan menggembeling setiap kekuatan yang masih bersisa. Kita berhadapan dengan arus perosak yang hebat yang sepatutnya menyedarkan kita untuk kembali bersatu demi agama Islam. Usaha ini seharusnya digerakkan dengan bersungguh-sungguh oleh segenap pihak tanpa mengira sempadan politik kepartian yang sempit, dan melewati segenap batasan yang memisahkan kita dan menjadikan kita umat yang boleh dicaturkan untuk mencapai agenda orang lain.

Zaizul Azizi Zaman
Aktivis ISMA
(Penulis adalah rakyat Malaysia yang pernah menetap di Australia dan Canada pernah berpeluang melawat pelbagai negara di Eropah, Asia dan Timur Tengah)

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