The great contradiction of fundamentalist politics is that it cannot deliver on the basic problem that provoked its rise, economic deprivation…Ordinary Malaysian hunger for more food, not more guns…The bad news is that it takes only 1% to wreak havoc.
Who, or what, is a fundamentalist? The word might even be a tautology, for a believer can only be true to his faith if he believes in its fundamentals. You cannot be very faithful, can you, if you believe only in supplementaries? I fast during Ramadan, one of the five fundamental tenets of Islam: I hope this does not make me a fundamentalist.
The slide begins when one faith begins to encroach upon a separate conviction. The first symptom of fundamentalism is aggression. When this aggression is channelled through an organized section of a community, it becomes communalism. When a state codifies such aggression through statute, or executive authority, it becomes a fundamentalist state.
Is an Islamic state ipso facto fundamentalist? No. The Quran repeatedly commends co-existence: “ Lakum deen-e kum wal ya deen (Your religion for you and my religion for me)” and “La iqra fi al deen (Let there be no compulsion in religion)”. The exemplar of the Islamic state is obviously the period when the Prophet was head of the city-state of Medina in addition to being rasool of the Muslims. Medina was multi-religious and multi-ethnic, with a mixed population including Jews, Christians and non-Muslim Arabs. There is no instance of a church or synagogue being destroyed under his watch. There was instead a Muslim-Jewish covenant on the principle of “Lahum ma lana wa alayhim ma alayna” : Jews and Muslims had the same rights and duties. “The terms of the covenant were primarily based on recognition of diverse affiliations and did not demand conversion,” writes Tariq Ramadan (The Messenger, Penguin).
This hardly means that Muslims today cannot be fundamentalists, but it is illogical to blame Islam for the sins of Muslims.
Chua’s rude remarks on Islam point to UMNO’s failure’
MCA President Chua Soi Lek has challenged Dap’s Lim Guan Eng to debate on Hudud. The Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement has warned MCA president Chua Soi Lek against challenging DAP secretary-general.
MCA’s insistence to hype up the issue of Hudud has indicated that the party has very limited option and political arsenal to use against it’s nemesis. This is not a very positive sign for the party. Under the leadership of Chua, the party has achieved internal stability but the same cannot be said of the party’s political fortune.
By harping on the Hudud issue, MCA risks not only continuous alienation from the Chinese voters but also backlash from Muslim leaders and groups such as Abim, Perkasa and some crucial conservative Muslim-Malay voters. Instead of scaring Chinese voters away from supporting the very dominant Dap, the party might find the double edged sword cutting deep on it’s side.
MCA president Chua Soi Lek how dare you say what is so great about the Prophet Muhammad and Islam
After several years of persecution and little success in preaching the word of God to his own people in the ancient city of Mecca, the Prophet Muhammad decided to take his message and teachings to the people of Ta’if, an agricultural city southeast of Mecca. The Prophet’s Meccan persecutors sent word to their allies in advance of Muhammad’s arrival in order to thwart his mission and turn the people against him. As the Prophet entered the precincts of the city of Ta’if, much to his bewilderment, he was met with sticks and stones as the people tried to drive him out. The Prophet ran for his life, bloodied and bruised like never before, finally finding safety and taking refuge in a vineyard. He turned his face to the heavens, admitting his weakness and asking God for strength to carry on. The Archangel Gabriel appeared with the angels of the surrounding mountains and asked the Prophet if he would allow them to crush the city of Ta’if for the way its inhabitants treated him. The Prophet, instead, asked for the people to be forgiven and prayed that future generations would be rightly guided. After this, God revealed in the Qur’an about the Messenger, “And, We have not sent you except as a mercy to the worlds.”
ABIM WARNS MCA PRESIDENT CHUA SOI LEK ELECTION … (the socalled ‘Christian terrorist’) did not represent Christian values, Tamil … A sampling of the state of Muslims around the world shows that they … it’s America we want to makegreat once again, and it’s on American soil we want to be buried.readmore ABIM WARNS MCA PRESIDENT CHUA SOI LEK ELECTION …
This mercy really comes to define the way and path of the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet’s wife, Lady Ayesha, recalled after his passing that he would always be the first to greet his family with peace upon entering the home; constantly serve the members of his household with tasks and chores without complaint; and, he would mend his own clothes and repairs his own shoes. The Prophet would playfully rub the children’s heads and encouraged his grandchildren to ride his back like a horse. A smile would come upon his face and he would stand up to greet his beloved daughter Lady Fatimah, the only child of his seven children to live longer than he, when she would come in his presence.
The Prophet’s relationship with his community was similar. His companions would say that when he spoke to them they would feel like they were the most beloved to him, and he would direct his full attention to them when they spoke to him. The Prophet preferred to sit and eat with the poor and weak, and he would always be the first to visit the sick and depressed. He showed as much concern for his closest friends as he did for the African woman who swept the floor of the Prophet’s Mosque. And, he taught his followers to also resemble this mercy, teaching them to share their food with others even if it was half a date; to remove harm from the path even if it was a small branch; to smile and give cheer even on a bad day; and, to smell nice and clean even if resources were little.
But, it was, perhaps, his way with rude and hostile people that really exemplified the Prophet’s mercy. Early on in Muhammad’s advent as a Prophet, a woman would throw her garbage on him every time he would pass by her place. One day the woman did not come out, so the Prophet became concerned and inquired about her. Learning that she had become ill, he went to visit her and offered comforting words. Once a Bedouin entered the sacred precincts of the Prophet’s mosque when he was with some of his companions and began urinating and defiling the space. The companions immediately rose to physically confront the Bedouin, but the Prophet stood in their way and calmed them down. He asked his companions to wash the mess that was made and took the Bedouin aside to talk to him. He spoke of the sacredness of a worship space and spoke well to the Bedouin until the man exclaimed, “May God have mercy on you and I, and no one else!” The Prophet laughed upon hearing this, and replied, “You have limited something that is immeasurably vast,” teaching him that God’s mercy envelops all beings.
In the West, the Prophet Muhammad is often portrayed only as a warrior who led and fought in battles. The Prophet was indeed a warrior who defended his community with the courage of a lion. But, it is also true that the Prophet practiced the highest ethics in war by avoiding the killing of innocents, prohibiting torture and mutilation, the poisoning of wells, cutting down fruit-bearing trees, and so on. Even on the battlefield, the Prophet practiced restraint and patience at every turn.
The Prophet’s mercy extended to the universe around him. He taught his companions to protect birds; he even consoled grieved animals; and showed endearing concern for the trees and plant life. The Prophet always took little from the earth and taught his followers to preserve water even if they were near a running river.
So, why is the Prophet Muhammad so beloved? It is because, for Muslims and for anyone who comes to know him with love, the Prophet exemplified the life of compassion toward all that was around him. And, even when he was offended and harmed, he showed his followers how to find inner peace with God, to live with grace and dignity under pressure. For this and more, this month we celebrate his birth, life, and legacy. Peace and blessings be upon the Messenger Muhammad, the great teacher of truth and wisdom.
Recent breakthroughs in brain research have led scientists, philosophers, and theologians to ask in new ways the old question, “Who am I?” Where or what is my identity? What makes me me and not someone else?
Answers to such questions may seem commonsensical. But given that memories can be lost (as often happens when we age) or altered (as pharmaceutical research has demonstrated), it can’t be true that I am what I remember myself to be. My identity does not appear to depend upon my memory of myself. If it did, that would mean that “I” can be lost as my memories disappear.
Stroke or aneurism can radically alter personality, leading a daughter to mourn the death of a still-living mother and having to become acquainted with a woman in her mother’s body who is nothing like the woman who raised her. Less dramatically, we change over time as we grow, mature, have new experiences. These experiences build up new connections in our brains, causing us to perceive ourselves and the world differently, causing us to become, in quite important ways, different people than we once were. So, it seems clear that as brain chemistry and neural structures in the brain shift, either because of normal growth and development or due to trauma, so does our personality. Our personality, then, can’t constitute our unique identity.
Chua Soi Lek says i can go on fucking spree without fear that the Internal Security Act is not really that bad. It is just that we have to be very careful in how it is used. In the early days of the ISA, the law was actually very good because it had, then, served our purposes. Okay, maybe there are no more communist terrorists operating in the jungles. But we still have one more threat, the threat of race riots. So the ISA helps as far as ensuring that Malays, Chinese and Indians do not kill each other.
To think that this is a very senior man of the MCA, the ‘second’ partner in the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, talking. And yet he speaks like this. I shudder to think what the mentality of the other Cina kwei in MCA must be like. God help this country!
The silence of most Muslim ‘leaders’ on the shabby treatment Islam has been subjected to is deafening, to say the least. Equally scandalous is the role of sections of the MCA Star Umno has assigned to do the job – to attack hudud law and frighten Chinese Malaysians into believing that hudud law would be implemented if Pakatan Rakyat came into power and that there would be a Pas PM in such an eventuality. Your statements on hudud law are indeed sacrilegious but it is okay with Umno! While it may seem quite clear from the outside why there should be a political party – indeed one may ask the counter question, why should there not be a Muslim political party – the thinking in the community itself is divided. The majority would want to see a Muslim political party but there is wide divergence over what it should do and how it should do it. While it may seem quite clear from the outside why there should be a political party – indeed one may ask the counter question, why should there not be a Muslim political party – the thinking in the community itself is divided. The majority would want to see a Muslim political party but there is wide divergence over what it should do and how it should do it. “They (Muslim parties) must accommodate others if they want to survive,and they are coming to realize that.” says a Muslim voter “A Muslim political party should have a broad based agenda of working for social justice and for the welfare of all sections of the society, and should be open to all,” he adds.Inclusive agenda, inclusive membership, but with the leadership remaining in Muslim hands only such party can succeed?
Some Christians get excited when they discover that I’m half Indian or that I studied Islam in college. They’ll sometimes ask me to talk about how Christianity compares to other faiths. But I’ve learned that what they mean to say is: “Great, you’ve read books I’d never own so you can tell us how awful those other religions are, and you’re brown so you won’t be called a bigot!”
That’s pretty much what happened a few weeks after 9/11 when I spoke to a college group at a church. When the pastor learned about my background he said he’d like to throw me a few “softball” questions about Islam at the end of my teaching time. His softball turned out to be a curve ball. He asked me, “Islam is essentially a religion of violence, right?”
“No,” I responded. “Islam advocates peace, and most Muslims are very kind, peaceful people.”
The pastor looked annoyed from the back of the room. He tried again. “But doesn’t the Quran advocate killing Christians and Jews?”
“You might be able to find verses like that in the Quran,” I said. “But you could pull verses out of context from the Old Testament to justify killing people too. And there have been very violent eras of Christian history when people did just that. It’s not unique to Islam.”
At this point the pastor was shaking his head at me from the back of the room. Afterward he expressed his frustration. “There were kids here who aren’t sure what they believe,” he said to me, “They’re wondering about Christianity. And you’re defending Islam?”
“Look,” I said, “I’m ready and eager to talk about the uniqueness of Jesus, the wonder of the Gospel, and I’ll even talk about what distinguishes Christianity from other faiths, but I’m not going to do it by smearing our neighbors and their religion with half-truths and charactatures.” The pastor was not happy with me. I had been invited to teach a second week. The invitation was rescinded.
Conversations like that, as well as my work with interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims, have led some to believe that I’m an advocate for Islam — or at least not sold out for team Christianity (a.k.a. theologically liberal). Nothing could be farther from reality. Here’s the truth. First, I believe Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, including our Muslim neighbors, and we cannot love them if we are gripped by fear. The distortions and hysteria regarding Islam since 9/11 is unfair to our Muslim neighbors and preventing Christians from loving them as we are called. I simply want to help the church move past fear to a posture of faith where love becomes possible.
Second, I believe the message of Christ can stand on its own merit without having to misrepresent other religions or showcase the worst elements of other faith communities or their pasts. Heaven knows Christianity has some skeletons in its history closet, and if we want to have a showdown between the worst expressions of Islam and the worst of Christianity, count me out. I’m not interested in defending Christendom/European imperialism. I’m interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Yes, Pat Buchanan, there is a difference between the two.)
And third, I believe James Madison did a great favor to the Christian faith when he penned the First Amendment. Madison understood that in order for true religion to thrive, for peoples’ affections to be stirred for their Creator, they needed freedom. Freedom from state coercion. Freedom of conscience. Freedom of practice. Freedom of speech. Freedom to accept religion or reject it. When religion, particularly faith in Christ, is mandated by the state, it inoculates the population from the power of the Gospel. It lulls them into thinking they are truly of Christ when in fact they are not. Madison’s writings on the topicreveal that the First Amendment was his attempt at protecting the purity of religion from the coercive power of the state, not simply the other way around.
I want to live in a society where Muslims enjoy every freedom to believe, think, practice and promote their faith, because only in such a society will Christians be free to do the same. But sadly not every state promises the freedoms we have been blessed with in our country. I encourage everyone to read the cover story in the new issue of Newsweek by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (a former Muslim now atheist), titled “The War on Christians.”
She reveals how the West has become increasingly sensitive to Islamophobia and the crimes committed against Muslim minorities in Europe and North America. But the media seems reluctant to publicize the horrors being suffered by Christian minorities in North Africa, the Mideast, South Asia and Indonesia. Violence against these Christian communities is on the rise with some radical groups advocating genocide. In addition, Christians are not protected by state laws and in some cases denied even the right to worship privately in their homes. Ali writes:
So let us please get our priorities straight. Yes, Western governments should protect Muslim minorities from intolerance. And of course we should ensure that they can worship, live, and work freely and without fear. It is the protection of the freedom of conscience and speech that distinguishes free societies from unfree ones. But we also need to keep perspective about the scale and severity of intolerance. Cartoons, films, and writings are one thing; knives, guns, and grenades are something else entirely.
I will continue to speak out in defense of my Muslim neighbors, and I will not stop calling the church to love them rather than fear them. But the church in the West must not forget our sisters and brothers in Christ who live in places that do not yet have the freedoms we, or Muslims in the West, enjoy. I am not interested in a cultural holy war between Christendom and Islam. The issue at hand is not world domination of one faith or a winner-take-all crusade/jihad. Rather it is human dignity and religious liberty. Followers of Christ, perhaps more than any others, should advocate that all people be free to believe, worship, think and preach without fear of persecution. Because where this freedom exists not only are religious communities more likely to coexist in peace, but I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ is more likely to thrive.
As Christians, we cannot, and should not, demand that everyone share our beliefs. But we can, and should, demand that everyone share our freedom. For where this freedom exists, we can be sure that Christ will be lifted up and draw people to himself.
UMNO deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin and Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman are both to blame for MCA president’s uncouth remarks on Muslim norms and traditions, said PAS Youth.
Saying the duo had failed to educate Chua Soi Lek resulting in his latest outburst over PAS’s Tenang by-election candidate Normala Sudirman’s preference not to touch the opposite sex, PAS Youth information chief Suhaizan Kaiat said DAP leaders appeared to be more knowledgeable on such matters.
“Perhaps they (Muhyiddin and Ghani) fail to teach Soi Lek because both of them are used to shaking hands of the opposite sex,” he said.
“I notice that Lim Kit Siang and Boo Cheng How understood the issue pretty well, because the DAP is part of PR.”
Last week, Chua, who was known for his many Islamophobic remarks, poked fun at Normala for not touching the hands of the opposite sex in accordance to religious requirement.
The former Health minister who resigned from cabinet following a video clip of his adulterous affair in a hotel room, also claimed that he had received complaints from Chinese constituents over the matter.
Suhaizan however ‘thanked’ Chua for ‘blowing up’ the issue, saying it had given PAS and Pakatan Rakyat an opportunity to explain to the non-Muslim community on Muslim practices.
“If Chua Soi Lek had not brought up the issue, I believe many non-Muslims especially in Labis would not understand this. A million thanks to him for bringing this up,” he added.
Suhaizan also questioned Chua’s continuous attack on PAS and Islam.
“Is it because of political mileage or his ignorance of Islam?” he asked.
“This kind of leader is disastrous to the country. He must be rejected by all,” he stressed, but said if Chua’s Islamophobic remarks were out of ignorance about Islam, the blame should then go to Muhyiddin and Ghani.