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Get a grip, Jati and PUM!

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emediaIslam, Malay rights and the royal institution.

Let’s get a few things straight. These are three different and separate issues.

Despite what some might say, see in their fevered dreams, or hallucinate about, Islam is not under attack in this country. In fact, I am starting to think that these self-appointed (or self-anointed as the case maybe) guys actually wish that the religion were being assaulted in order to justify their own existence and provide themselves with a sense of purpose and an enemy to fight against.

And when there are no enemies to fight, no problem! Make one up!

The royals are probably absolutely fed-up with every single altercation that drags them into an unnecessary clash. Bear in mind, only one group consistently drags the royals into the fray and uses the institution as a shield. These are the guys who — rather than rationalise, debate and justify through logic and sound argument — prefer to bully others into submitting to their viewpoint through threats of violence, religious dogma and accusations of sedition. They have consistently abused the royals’ trust and privilege.

And then, of course, we come to Malay rights and privileges. Contrary to what some of these characters espouse, discussing changes in this issue neither equates to attacking the Islamic faith nor to questioning the role and importance of the royal institution.

Article 153 of the Federal Constitution was framed and intended to protect a group of people that includes those living in Sabah and Sarawak, lest we forget. It was not intended to promote or impose Malay hegemony or dominance.

I do not believe that the framers of the document ever meant or intended for the Article to be utilised as a weapon to bludgeon others into submission or as an instrument of greed.

Yet, today, we are where we are.

We have these guys from the lunatic fringe, newborn Jati and raving Perkasa, who are led by frightened men, cowering from imaginary shadows and menacing phantoms hidden in bedroom closets. What are they fearful of? They are terrified of change. The real possibility that there will be a future where Malaysians drop the unfair, inequitable and discriminatory policies of yesterday.

There are far more things that unite us as Malaysians, than those that divide us. We need to recognise and reject attempts to split us.

The Ulama Association of Malaysia (PUM) believes that the interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims requires guidelines or a code of conduct. They believe that, because Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country, this would be necessary to help avoid confusion and make people better understand Islam. PUM further states that these guidelines would serve as official guidance on issues related to religion and racial interaction, and ensure there would be no more views and opinions from those who did not have an “authority” in Islam.

This is utter nonsense. These people are making an ass of themselves and are giving Islam and Muslims in Malaysia a bad name. They are insulting both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. This is clearly an example of bigotry clothed in the sheepskin of religion.

These people feel threatened by the religious and ethnic pluralism that is the very identity of this country. While they demand that others understand Islam, they make very little attempt to understand the religions of others.

There are many non-Muslim scholars in this country and elsewhere around the world who can claim to have read and analysed the contents of the Quran. How many Muslim scholars in Malaysia can state that they have read the Bible, Torah, Guru Granth Sahib, any of the Vedas or any of the texts held sacred by other religions?

When there is utter confusion over simple things like non-religious occasions such as Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, or ignorance of which faith celebrates Thaipusam, you know that there is not much effort being made to understand other religions. The time and effort spent putting together these guidelines would be better spent reading up on Other Religions 101.

We also do not need these guidelines as these people are promoting exclusivity and an agenda.

Islam is not and has never been about exclusivity or bigotry. This not only goes against the teachings of Islam, it also prevents others from understanding Muslims better and cultivates misunderstanding, conflict and ignorance. Exclusivity exists neither in scripture nor in the spirit and traditions of Islam. Those who demand for it convey a lack of depth in their knowledge and understanding of how Islam is practised elsewhere around the world and of its co-existence with other great religions. If exclusivity and bigotry were really part of the teachings than the only Muslims in the world would have just been Arabs!

The agenda that is being pushed is for Malay dominance. Clear and simple. It has nothing to do with religion. It has nothing to do with the royals. But it does have something to do with communal greed and perceived entitlements, particularly amongst a select and privileged group who have utilised the New Economic Policy to their utmost advantage.

How much more do you want? When is it enough?

Taking more and imposing your will upon others in the name of misplaced racial superiority breeds resentment, anger, delusions and hatred. It is high time that we put a stop to it.

 

The article is reproduced with permission by The Malaysian Insider.

 

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