Seeing what a Muslim missionary did on YouTube prompted me to think about my religion in a critical way. This, in part, led to me writing “The Exclusiveness of Islam and Heaven“; it’s something i’ve considered ever since the first posting on the Volume of Interactions nearly 10 years ago, but i rarely put these type of thoughts down for obvious reasons.
Its been a while since something i’ve written has generated so many email responses, some in praise, most in condemnation.
I think the thing that we need to understand as Muslims is that the Quran, the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad and the various fatwas and sermons from our clerics can be interpreted in so many ways.
The Quran has 109 verses dealing with war and punishment, specifically against non-Muslims. Some of it is incredibly graphic including the often abused (Quran, 2:191-193) which seems to encourage the “slaying” of non-Muslims. However, i believe that there is a context for everything in the Quran, and if we strip the verse of the context, than we are doing nothing less than the gravest of injustices to our faith.
Yes, you heard that correctly. I said “our” faith — the saddest reality of all is that Muslims are doing this to ourselves. It’s not some global conspiracy by the much-maligned Jews or the scheming American Devil that is messing around with the Quran. It is us. You, me, my brother, your sister, our parents, the neighbours next door and the imam on the pulpit. Collectively, we are responsible, collectively, we are Muslims.
When an American fighter bomber accidentally bombs an Afghan village, killing women and children, do we blame the pilot, or do we blame the American people for allowing such an act to happen. After all, its their tax dollars, its their President and its their will that allowed for it. Yes, we blame America.
Similarly, when a cleric, a respected member of PERKIM stands up and makes fun and jokes about
Buddhists non-Muslims and their way of life, we as Muslims have to take the blame. In the presentation of ideas and principals, unfortunately, the collective is always responsible for the individual.
What created a man like that? What creates a man who can strap a bunch of explosives to his chest and blow himself up in exchange for the lives of women and children? Some might say, Islam. The religion is designed to be flexible to ensure that it remains suitable for all man, throughout all the ages. Those of you from IIUM, correct me if this is wrong, but that’s what i remember from Quranic Revealed Knowledge 101. It’s that same flexibility that allows for the religion to be twisted and perverted by the hands of Man.
But surely, someone is doing the twisting, someone is stretching the definitions. This is where i lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the leaders of this country, our Government. But its not exactly what you think — our PM and his legion of men do not go out there and tell Muslims to do bad things. Less i be accused of saying as much, let me disown that position immediately.
What the Government has done in the 50 years since Independence is create a mentality of “us” versus “them”. The “me” versus “you”. Policies designed to broaden the divide between the people have been the order of the day — the NEP created a distinction between the “haves” and the “have nots”. It also drove a wedge between “Bumiputera” and “non-Bumiputera”. During the Islam Hadhari of Badawi we were exposed tragically to the differences between the “Muslim” and the “non-Muslim”, as UMNO tried out “out-Islamize” the Opposition. Today, through his deafening silence on organizations like PERKASA, and individuals like the headmaster of Skudai, PM Najib is telling us that race does matter, the “Malays” exist in juxtaposition to the “non-Malays”.
By constantly reinforcing the duality of our people, the Government has allowed for the people to begin to believe that it’s alright to make negative distinctions, it’s alright to think oneself superior and the “other” inferior. That type of thinking is an infection, and once it lives and prospers in our minds, it’s just a matter of time before it spreads to how we view everything that matters, including how we perceive religion and how we manage our inter-faith relationships.
That’s why, that cleric thought that making a play of words on the faith of
Buddhism others was alright, likening it to the fantastical monkey, King Kong. He has been conditioned to exist in a universe where there is only one path, and that all other paths are unworthy. I don’t blame him, i blame myself. But more than anyone else i blame our leaders for what they’ve done to our minds.