Yin says: In the fourth century when Rome forged its church which was Roman and not Christian, they manipulated the Bible. Everything was distorted, to give the priests and the authorities the maximum power, to exact money and subject the people for the benefit of Rome.
Are we seeing the same with Islam in the 21st Century?
Is the Koran manipulated to suit one argument to the exclusion of all other opinions?
More pertinently is this happening in Malaysia?
We see the ulamas interpret the Koran to fit their agenda. They forbid other points of views from other Muslims. The politicians are happy for them to do that in return for votes.
The tussle between the conservative right wing/ultra religionists and the liberals; how each interprets the Koran; determines how tolerant or intolerant; how benign or violent Islam is. If it is inclusive or exclusive. The world view of the Muslim population in our country depends on what they learn in school, or is told at Friday sermons, or at Biro Tata Negara brainwashing sessions.
Posters calling for donations for the Palestinians and for the Rohingyas are everywhere. Both are worthy causes; I don’t doubt. Both affect Muslims. But why no posters to help those in similar situations in South America and elsewhere? Is it because they are not Muslims?
On the other hand I have visited villages in Sudan where wells are dug; clinics managed and schools built by Christian Charities; and every village is 100% Muslim.
Christianity vs Islam?
It’s not about Christianity vs Islam. It’s the worldview of its adherents that is different. One looks at humanity and not colour or creed; the other takes a narrow view of helping only their own.
This narrow worldview is not what the Koran teaches I am told; but the teaching of misguided religious establishments.
Religious establishments tend to impose its interpretation of the holy scripts on the population. They don’t like awkward questions being asked, or their interpretation of the holy book challenged. Christianity had its Dark Ages where dissenters were tortured and killed.
Islam is experiencing its Dark Age in many parts of the world. Will we see the same?
Unless there is open discourse and debate on Islam in Malaysia (even if it is only among Muslims); unless there is greater tolerance of other views on Islam; and acceptance of other religions we will become like an I.S. State or at the very least a Saudi – but without the money.
I wonder if Kassim Ahmad’s book “Hadith: A Re-Evaluation” once banned; is now available for Muslims (and non-Muslims) to read or has the Ulamas further tightened their grip over the Muslim text and tradition allowed in this country.
Kassim Ahmad’s encouragement to a direct relationship with God is a threat to the self-appointed intermediary between man and God of the ulamas. They have a monopolistic control over Islam in this country and in many ways over the Malays because religion and race are closely tied.
I sense a growing scepticism among younger Muslims – a willingness to seek knowledge; to think independently on their religion and not accept blindly what they are told on Fridays. Indeed those who have escaped the tempurong and seen the outside world are willing to challenge the conventional wisdom and debate the religious establishment.
But in the main, Malays still leave religion to the ulamas and they merely follow. Their feudal mentality makes them easily manipulated. This is most unfortunate as it gives the religious establishment disproportionate power to influence the country’s policies.
Kassim Ahmad was persecuted by the religious establishment. They will do the same to others who dare challenge their views.
The ulamas are not an infallible source of Koranic teaching and many are finding this out. Kassim Ahmad has always insisted that there is a higher source – an infallible source; God; as revealed in the Koran.
“Tapi pada mula dan akhir; saya mengakatakan Tuhan guru saya”. It sounds like a rallying cry to those disenchanted with the present order.
This is not just a tussle between the liberal/progressive Muslims and the conservative/ultra religionists on Islam. Depending on who wins the soul of Islam in this country lies the future of our country.
The non-Malays cannot sit on the sideline and think it is not their business; they will become the collateral damage in this fight if they do.
Depending on who wins; it will mean a hudud; an Islam-centred education for their children; more racial discrimination; more incompetence and corruption (as any corrupt and incompetent Muslim is better than a non-Muslim however good or honest according to a Muslim leader) and a disunited Malaysia.
Or an inclusive; tolerant and united country.
While the Malays largely determine the future direction – whether we will be progressive; peaceful and prosperous or a racist; conservative and backward nation – we all have a say. And we should exercise it.
(The views expressed are those of the contributor)
Letters from Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan