Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Aren't We All Malaysians by Mujahid Yusof Rawa - Foreword by Anas Zubedy

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” – Quran 30:22


Mujahid and I have been friends since our Form Six days at Penang Free School. We were in the same class. I am also familiar with Mujahid’s late father, Yusof Rawa, the president of PAS in the late 80’s and his more forward thoughts compared to his contemporaries regarding PAS policies. I have always kept abreast with Mujahid’s journey and some of our ideas resonate each other.

At zubedy, our core value is uniting people. Anybody who chooses the same undertaking albeit different approaches is our friend. As far as we are concerned, any Unity movement or endeavour is above politics. We encourage every political body, business organisation, NGO, and civil movement to have their own Unity initiative and Unity cause. zubedy has been promoting Unity with our ‘Many Colors One Race’ platform which we live by and incorporate into everything that we do when we deal with our clients, staff, family, and friends. Furthermore, zubedy believes in adding value to everything that we undertake. Mujahid’s ways reveal how Islam adds value to the Malay race. In this book, Mujahid demonstrates how the Malays are universally connected to the rest of the world through Islam.

As Mujahid heads PAS’ National Unity Committee, he is PAS’ trustee to explore the dynamics between the Muslims and non-Muslims. As such, we support this gap-bridging effort that cuts across all races and religions because it sits well with our Unity endeavour. Personally, I feel this collaboration creates a cross-introduction for both zubedy and Mujahid. He is lesser known among the English-speaking Malaysian circles, especially the English-speaking middle class intelligentsia. These circles are instead familiar with the zubedy brand, while PAS’ members are more familiar with Mujahid. I see this book as a synergy between the zubedy brand and Mujahid’s ideas. I hope this collaboration will benefit Mujahid and his ideas for Unity among Malaysians. I want Mujahid and the likes of him to be heard.

Mujahid puts forth a number of interesting stories of Malaysian Unity in this book. I like the story about him and his Indian friends, Selvarajoo and Chandran. While he had a crush on an Indian girl, his Indian friends were into Malay girls. This close bond with friends of a different race is something I know well about. My best friend, Jubal was an Indian. In the book, Mujahid also speaks about how his mother developed a beautiful friendship with an old Chinese lady who sold eggs for her living.

In the 3rd chapter, Mujahid recollects how the Malays and Chinese in Penang protected each other during May 13. The two races worked hand-in-hand to ensure everyone’s safety from vigilantes on that day. This first-hand experience gives us a peek into the untold long-existing unity between different races in Malaysia. This story substantiates what zubedy has been saying about May 13. We have been calling for the re-colour of May 13 because we know that the episode does not represent how we stand together as Malaysians. While a few tried to upset the racial harmony that we have always had, millions of us have prevailed together in proving that we are indeed one.

Another thing that strikes me is Mujahid’s loving and caring nature and what a wonderful Abi (father) he is to his children. Mujahid treats everyone around him with tenderness and compassion. I was touched when I read about how he jokes around with his wife and children. Also with how their entire family sobbed in the car when they had to move back to Penang from Melaka because they felt like they were leaving behind their own flesh and blood. These stories give us an understanding on why Mujahid is a strong advocate of racial and religious harmony. Also more than that, I hope these stories will demystify the pre-conceived image of Muslim leaders that many hold. A Muslim leader is like Mujahid; open, loving, compassionate, intelligent, and able to mix around with people from all walks of life with ease.

My respect for Mujahid is founded on many things. One of them is his willingness to go against the current and highlight unpopular issues even within his own circles. Apart from sharing the similar experience of having close friends from different races, Mujahid and I also share similar views on the Quran and the Constitution being separate entities. We both have stressed on many occasions that it is an insult to the Quran if one regards it as the Constitution because the former is revealed by God while the latter is man-made. Mujahid took a big risk in saying what he said and that to me is praiseworthy.

This is a book on Unity by a PAS leader. And as PAS in one of the players in the political arena, it is good for people whether they are PAS supporters or not, to read it. The stories and ideas stomached all over the next 179 pages may ring well with you, or not; but I believe we have it in us to agree to disagree. Thinking Malaysians must understand that the underlying issue is not within partisanship. I understand everyone has their own ways to achieve their goals, but there are people who are hardcore or while there are those who are moderate. The hardcores tend to favour exclusivity while the moderates embrace inclusiveness in their approach.

We need to work with the inclusive ones. We need to give our support to the inclusives in every political party. We support them not for their politics, but for their Unity endeavours. At the same time I am happy to meet more inclusives such as Mujahid from all parties whether they are from Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat. I want to meet them and assist in publishing their books. As Mujahid said in this book, “Politics is not all about finding the opportunity to attack the opposition; mature politics is looking for best solutions”. At the bottom of it, it’s not about which side we are on. It is about choosing the inclusives among them. The real battle is between the exclusive and the inclusive, the extreme and the moderate.

Mujahid and I once had a makan together at Mahbub Restaurant, Bangsar where we discussed how PAS would be like in the future. I suggested that for PAS to become a national party that incorporates all Malaysians, they need to find a way to work with the non-Muslims, to include them as an equal partner within the PAS family. I also suggested Mujahid to write a book about the possibility of having non-Muslim PAS members. I am waiting for that book.

I wish Mujahid and anybody like him the best in his endeavours to unite Malaysians.

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” - Quran 49:13

let us add value,

anas zubedy

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