Saturday, February 23, 2013

Malaysia, Islam and Inclusive Leaders

Note : This is the speech I presented this morning during the ‘Aren’t We All Malaysians’ book launch by author Datuk Dr. Mujahid Yusof Rawa.

Datuk Dr Mujahid, Brothers and Sisters, Peace be upon you.

That Malaysia will turn more and more ‘Islamic’ is a foregone conclusion. May I repeat … That Malaysia will turn more and more ‘Islamic’ is a foregone conclusion. I will share two main reasons for this; one being local while the other, global.

In Malaysia today, the Muslim majority are giving birth more than the rest. Owing to this rate, by 2050 the Muslims should occupy about 70 % of Malaysia as compared to the current 60. A recent survey about young Muslims aged 15 to 25 years old in Malaysia published on the website of Merdeka Centre reports that more than 70% of them aspire to adopt the Islamic way of life as part of theirs and desire to see the society move forward in the same manner. These statistics I am putting forth are more than just numbers; they indicate where Malaysians are heading and how that journey is re-shaping our nation.

At the global front, while by the 80s and early 90s communism and nationalism being two of the forces obstructing world dominion by the USA were no longer in position to post any challenge to Washington, the Iranian revolution of 1979 thrust Islam to the fore both in national and international politics. A decade later, 1989 saw the Mujahideen’s victory over Soviet Russia in the Afghanistan. This success showed that Muslim resistance by a small, organised, determined and united group of faithful can resist and defeat a superpower.

A new kind of confidence and consciousness was injected within the Muslim world.  Muslim revivalism that started in the nineteenth century experienced a new vitality.  Muslims especially the young re-thought, reflected, and brought back to life their rich and forgotten history into present memory rekindling the spirit of their own golden era.

Furthermore, events in the Middle-East especially the treatment of Palestinians by Israel and its allies and the double standard practice by the West towards Muslim nations serve as a constant fuel in increasing Muslim consciousness. Muslims today see and want Islam to be a possible alternative in managing people and the nation. Malaysian Muslims too share these ideals.

Brothers and Sisters,

As Malaysia move slowly but surely towards Islam, we must ask ourselves what face of Islam do we want to create. Whether the Muslim direction is led by
  1. UMNO in the current BN framework, or.
  2. PAS within the PAKATAN partnership, or
  3. Perhaps a new UMNO-PAS hybrid, or
  4. A totally new entity in the future,

we need to ensure that the face of Islam that we see in this country is one that is inclusive and moderate. We need leaders regardless of political leaning not just from UMNO or PAS; not just in politics or in business but also in the public sector, civil society and the NGOs that have inclusiveness at heart. We need those that practice Wasatiyyah - The Middle Way.

This is where someone like my friend Datuk Dr Mujahid comes into the picture. Datuk Dr. Mujahid is a strong advocate of racial and religious harmony. We need Muslim leaders like him; he is open, loving, compassionate, intelligent, and able to mix around with people from all walks of life. He is inclusive and moderate. As the head of PAS’ National Unity Committee, Datuk Dr. Mujahid is PAS’ trustee to explore the dynamics between the Muslims and non-Muslims. We at Zubedy support this gap-bridging effort that cuts across all races and religions.  It also sits well with zubedy’s Unity endeavour. Anyone who is for the cause of Unity is our friend despite their various approaches.

Brothers and Sisters,

At Zubedy, we have strong conviction that we need to work with the inclusive ones regardless of partisanship. Thinking Malaysians must understand that the underlying issue is not within partisanship. We must understand that everyone and each group have their own ways to achieve Unity goals.

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 may ring well with you, or perhaps not; but I believe we have it in us to agree to disagree. As stated earlier we must understand that everyone has their own ways to achieve Unity goals, but there are people who are hardcore while there are those who are moderate. The hard cores 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 zubedy we are happy to meet more inclusives whether they are from Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat. Personally, I want to meet them and find ways to assist them sell their ideas, make them heard, and help them move forward. As Dr. Mujahid stress in his book, “Politics is not all about finding the opportunity to attack the opposition; mature politics is looking for best solutions”.

Brothers and Sisters,

At the bottom of it, it’s not about which side we are on. The real battle is between the exclusive and the inclusive, the extreme and the moderate. There are the extreme and the moderates in all groupings, every political party. We have decided to work with the latter.

In the future, after the general elections (the timing is significant as anything that we do now, people say it’s meant for the election), we at zubedy would like to create more avenues for moderates and inclusives from both BN, PR, and civil societies to be heard. We want to organise talks, publish their books, and be the platform and conduit for them to engage as one – standing above partisan politics in the name of UNITY.  Zubedy wants to be one of the bridges that can bring these groups of current and future leaders together to share their different voices, but similar message, similar goals.  Perhaps, in the near future Zubedy can publish a great page-turner if we could have, for instance, Datuk Dr. Mujahid and Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah co-writing a book on Unity. Or perhaps a compilation of articles about UNITY in one book by leaders from both sides of the political divide, from the Peninsular and Sabah and Sarawak, the young and the old.

Brothers and Sisters,

Before I end, I would like to show my appreciation to first and foremost Datuk Dr. Mujahid Yusof Rawa for his willingness to be here with us today despite his pressing schedule with general elections looming; the people behind the scenes; fellow zubedyans and others who have been involved in making today’s affair possible, directly or indirectly; Especially to Hidayah the project leader. Thank you.  And last but certainly in no way possible is the least, all of you who are here today.

May I end my speech with two verses from the Quran;

“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

“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


Anas Zubedy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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Welcome to the World of Spinning and Lies!