The Phoenix Islam

I’ve written quite a bit on Islam, its relevance and perspective, in recent times.
Refer to “A Take on Islam“, “Is it UnIslamic?“, “Bye-bye Morality Police?“, and “Overzealous Muslims“.
A good article from Jeff Ooi was published today on the matter, and i think it does sum things up quite well. Malaysia is a Muslim country, and Islam, and religion are central topics constantly revisited. Perhaps its a good thing that we spend so much time talking about it, and its even more reassuring that the conclusions we Muslims come up with are generally pointed in the right direction. But, they’ve been pointing in the right direction for many years, ever since my days in UIA — if we already have the right answers, why do we still seem so lost?
Syed Nazri of the NST speaks of how Muslims of Malaysia are divided. Sadly, he’s right. We’ve got people like the Quran-thumping JAWI on one hand, and, as TV Smith eloquently puts it, the “Malay scotch and bourbon aficionados” on the other extreme. And a third group exists: people like me, what i would call, the “middle-road Muslims”.
Its a serious problem this is. Intra-religious divisions have never been good for the overall cause of the religious civilization. At its worse, it can lead to massive schisms such as the one that exists between the Protestant and Catholic churches. Often, it can lead to the form of “cold war” Muslims have experienced between the Sunnis and Shiites.
Further reading: What is a “cold-war”? from Wikipedia
If i may be so bold, a version of that “cold war” exists right here in Malaysia. As Jeff pointed out, the battle lines are clearly visible even in the highest echelons of Government (e.g. the PM says one thing, but a Minister in his own department contradicts him). The infamous Zouk raid was perhaps the most visible clash of the war in recent memory.
The tenets of war are easy to identify.
(a) Fear
(b) Resentment
(c) Anger
(d) Casualties
For anyone who doubts that Muslims in Malaysia are currently in the throes of a intra-religious “cold war”, take a moment to think about it. All four principles above apply to us. There is a lot of fear going around, a lot of resentment of both sides, the anger is obvious, and the Muslim ladies mistreated by JAWI officers during the Zouk raid are just one example of the casualties that have been inflicted.
Until and unless Muslims in Malaysia find some middle ground, and manage to call a truce, i think we can all certainly forget about “reviving the great Muslim civilization” in our country.

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