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Universalism in Islam

By:
Chandra Muzaffar
Document type:
Articles and Essays

Universalism in Islam

Chandra Muzaffar

Commentary

Since the late 1960s, Malaysia has witnessed tensions and occasionally open conflict between the Muslim community, which comprises a slight majority, and non-Muslim Chinese and South Asians. This communalism has taken both ethnic and religious forms because of the combination of ethnicity (Malay) and religion (Islam) in the identity of Bumiputra (literally, son of the soil). 1 M. Kamal Hassan, “Malaysia,” in John L. Esposito, editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), volume 3, pp. 35–38; Hussin Mutalib, Islam and Ethnicity in Malay Politics (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1990); Chandra Muzaffar, “Ethnicity, Ethnic Conflict, and Human Rights in Malaysia,” in Claude E. Welch Jr. and Virginia A. Leary, editors, Asian Perspectives on Human Rights (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1990), pp. 107–141; K. J. Ratnam, Communalism in the Political Process in Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: University of Malaya Press, 1965); R. K. Vasil, Ethnic Politics in Malaysia (New Delhi: Radiant, 1980); Karl von Vorys, Democracy without Consensus: Communalism and Political Stability in Malaysia (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975). Chandra Muzaffar (Malaysia, born 1947), a political scientist and civic activist, has analyzed Malay communalism in his academic work and combated it in his civic work, in particular, the multicommunal, pro-democracy organization Aliran Kesedaran Negara (National Awareness Movement), which he founded in the late 1970s and led until the early 1990s. In the 1990s, Muzaffar founded an international organization, the Just World Trust, which seeks to promote similar ideals globally, and coauthored a declaration on human rights that was adopted by more than two hundred Asian and Pacific nongovernmental organizations. Muzaffar has been harassed by the Malaysian government for his criticism of its undemocratic practices. 2 Daniel S. Lev, “Human Rights NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations] in Indonesia and Malaysia,” in Welch and Leary, Asian Perspectives on Human Rights, pp. 142–161; Amyn B. Sajoo, Pluralism in “Old Societies and New States”: Emerging ASEAN Contexts (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1994), pp. 53–54; and Sajoo, “Pondering the ‘Periphery’: Pluralist Trends in Southeast Asia,” Muslim Politics Report, number 8, Summer 1996, p. 5.

The Universalism of Islam is an open proclamation to everyone—Muslim and non-Muslim alike—that communalism is totally alien to the spirit and philosophy of Islam.

This proclamation is particularly relevant in a society like ours. It is unfortunate that over the decades Islam in Malaysia has come to be seen in communal perspectives. “Communal” in this context does not mean mere association with a particular community. It is perhaps unavoidable that in a situation where all Malays are Muslims, Islam will be perceived as a Malay religion by both Malays and non-Malays. As long as there is sufficient awareness that Islam does not belong exclusively to the Malays and that there are millions upon millions of non- Malays who are also Muslims, no one can say that such a perception is in itself communal. 3 There is this awareness, though non-Malays who become Muslims are sometimes referred to as people who have “masuk Melayu” (become Malays). “Masuk Melayu,” however, need not be interpreted literally; it could simply mean those who have adopted the religion of the Malays.

What makes the prevailing attitude towards Islam communal is the tendency to link the religion with what I shall call Malayism and Bumiputraism when it is apparent that both the premises of these two almost identical “isms” and their implications have nothing to do with Islam. By Malayism I mean that whole philosophy that argues that, as the indigenous community, the Malays have certain political, economic and cultural rights that distinguish them from the non-indigenous communities [primarily Chinese and South Asians]. Bumiputraism rests upon the same premise except that it also encompasses indigenous non-Malay, non-Muslim communities whose interests may, at certain points, conflict with those of the Malays. 4 These communities would be the Kadazans, Ibans, and others of East Malaysia in the main and some of the Orang Asli of West Malaysia. A clear instance would be the political pre-eminence of the Malays, which is not just pre-eminence in relation to the non-indigenous communities but also pre-eminence in relation to the non-Malay, non-Muslim indigenous communities. 5 In both Sabah and Sarawak, for instance, the Chief Ministership and certain other important political offices are held by indigenous Muslims, though non-Muslim indigenous communities are numerically stronger in both states. For a fuller discussion of politics in these states, see K. J. Ratnam and R. S. Milne, New States in a New Nation (London: Frank Cass, 1974).

Since both Malayism and Bumiputraism are founded upon the notion of an indigenous people, let us consider this factor from the point of view of Islam. The Islamic party of Malaysia (PAS [Partai Islam Se-Malaysia, or Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party]) has all along demanded the “restoration of Malay sovereignty” primarily because of the indigenous status of the community. 6 See “Amanat Yang di-Pertua Agong PAS Ulang Tahun 1958” [The 1958 Anniversary Speech of the President of the PAS], in Cenderamata Pembukaan Bangunan PAS Kelantan & Kongres PAS ke 13 [Souvenir Program in Conjunction with the Opening of the PAS's Building in Kelantan and the Thirteenth PAS Congress]. What is important to us is that its demand has invariably been presented in the name of Islam. Even a cursory analysis of PAS's philosophy will reveal that its insistence upon Malay political pre-eminence, Malay economic preeminence and Malay cultural pre-eminence have been articulated as a way of protecting the integrity of Islam. 7 For a detailed analysis see my “Protection of the Malay Community: A study of UMNO's Position and Opposition Attitudes,” Masters Thesis, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 1974.

Now Islam does not recognize an indigenous/non-indigenous dichotomy as the basis of any social system. If terms like indigenous (Bumiputra) and non-indigenous (non-Bumiputra) are used merely as descriptions of categories within the population which have emerged as a result of the evolution of the Malaysian nation, it would not be altogether antithetical to Islamic principles. For then the categories concerned would be of historical rather than social relevance. But since the PAS argument is that public life should be conducted on the basis of an indigenous/non-indigenous dichotomy one would be right in describing it as an un-Islamic stance. There are three important reasons for saying so. Firstly, it is seldom realized that by distinguishing the indigenous community from the non-indigenous communities one is, in fact, dividing the Muslims since there are Muslims who are non-Bumiputras just as there are Bumiputras who are non-Muslims. Islamic teachings are opposed to any covert or overt attempt to divide Muslims. This is borne out by the importance attached to the very well-known principle in Islam that “the Believers are but a single Brotherhood, so make peace and reconciliation between your two contending brothers” (Qur'an, Sura Al-Hujurat [Sura 49], Verse 10). 8 See A. Yusuf Ali [1872–1952], The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary (Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1972). Lest this idea of Muslim unity be misunderstood it must be stressed that Islam does not advocate an obscurantist sort of unity without considering the ethical foundations of that unity. As proof, it is stated in the Qur'an that “God will not leave the Believers in the state in which ye are now until He separates what is evil from what is good.” (Sura Al-‘Imran [Sura 3], Verse 179) Dividing nonindigenous Muslims from indigenous Muslims in matters relating to politics, economics, education and culture is certainly not a case of separating evil from good! Secondly, even if all Bumiputras were Muslims and all non-Bumiputras non-Muslims, it would still be wrong to differentiate between the two groups in employment, education, and other similar areas where the paramount consideration should be the welfare of the human being. The Qur'an itself prohibits such discrimination (Sura Al-Baqara [Sura 2], Verse 272). The constitution of Medina formulated by Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) provided equal rights and responsibilities to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. 9 For a discussion on the Constitution of Medina, see Zainal Abidin Ahmad, Piagam Nabi Muhammad s.a.w. [Charter of the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be upon Him] (Jakarta, Indonesia: Bulan Bintang, 1973). Illustrious caliphs in early Islam like Abu Bakr [reigned 632–634], ‘Umar [reigned 634–644], and ‘Ali [reigned 656–661] took great pains to ensure that their non-Muslim citizens were well looked after. According to the 8th century Hanafi jurist Abu Yusuf, the second caliph ‘Umar even fixed special pensions for the non-Muslims living in Damascus. 10 See Sayyid Abul A‘la Mawdudi, The Islamic Law and Constitution (Lahore, Pakistan: Islamic Publications Ltd.), p. 312. Thirdly, by placing the whole Bumiputra/non-Bumiputra dichotomy at the center of things one has, in a sense, elevated ethnicity and ancestry to a level which is repugnant to genuine Islamic values. One of the hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) reminds mankind that “there is no pride whatsoever in ancestry; there is no merit in an Arab as against a non-Arab nor in a non-Arab as against an Arab.” 11 Mawdudi, The Islamic Law and Constitution, p. 159. What is at the kernel of Islam is not ethnicity or ancestry but the unity of God. And the one most significant implication of that unity is the unity of the whole of mankind. The Qur'an for instance, observes,

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 honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you. (Sura Hujurat [Sura 49], Verse 13)

This concept of unity is in fact linked to the idea of equality within the human community as suggested in Sura Al-‘Imran [Sura 3], Verse 195. 12 In commenting upon that sura, Yusuf Ali notes, “In Islam, the equal status of the sexes is not only recognized but insisted on. If sex distinction, which is a distinction in nature, does not count in spiritual matters, still less of course would count artificial distinctions such as rank, wealth, position, race, color, birth, etc.” A. Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 175. In other words, the very endeavor to sustain and strengthen ethnic dichotomies like the indigenous/non-indigenous distinction amounts to a denunciation of the central principle of Islam itself—the principle of the unity of God or towhid.

Obviously then, PAS cannot justify Bumiputraism by using or misusing Islam. Of course it is not just PAS that advocates Bumiputraism. It is, as we know, the whole basis of public policy formulation. However, in all fairness to the UMNO-led [United Malays National Organization] government which is responsible for this, it must be recognized that it does not justify Bumiputraism in the name of Islam. 13 For the UMNO leadership as a whole, Bumiputraism is apparently justified on its own basis. Some analysis of this is available in my “The New Economic Policy and the Quest for National Unity,” Fifth Malaysian Economic Convention (Malaysian Economic Association, 1978).

That Bumiputraism cannot be defended from an Islamic point of view is something that very few Muslims in Malaysia are aware of. Even where there is some awareness, there doesn’t seem to be a willingness to articulate such a view in public. This is true of almost all Muslim groups in the country, including those who argue that PAS is un-Islamic and that they represent pure, pristine Islam. That is why I have never believed for one moment that the tremendous interest in Islam manifested in recent years by educated youths and others who are part of the urban environment reflects the emergence of a genuine Islamic consciousness. 14 Two points, however, must be made. Firstly, there are without any doubt a number of Muslim youths who understand genuine Islamic principles. See, for instance, the view of Anwar Ibrahim [born 1947] (President, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia [Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia], or ABIM), in Bintang Timur [Eastern Star], 1st March 1979. Secondly, the world-wide interest in Islam among young Muslims has also had some bearing upon the Malaysian situation, but I do not consider it a crucial factor. To establish this point, I shall undertake a brief analysis of the so-called “rising tide of Islam” of the 1970s. I hope to show that Islam in Malaysia is still clothed in communal garb; that Muslims in Malaysia have yet to understand what the universal spirit of Islam means in reality.

It is no mere coincidence that this “Islamic tide” has risen in the 1970s. For the 1970s has seen the emergence of the Malay community as a significant component of the urban environment, especially the Kuala Lumpur environment. 15 This is due to both the rural-urban drift which has been on since Merdeka [Independence, 1957], and the New Economic Policy (NEP) [since the early 1970s] which among other things emphasizes Malay participation in commerce and industry. It is estimated that by 1980, 32 percent of the urban population would be Malay. 16 See The Star, 20 March 1979. In a society where ethnic consciousness is pervasive, Malays who have just become part of a largely non-Malay milieu are bound to develop an awareness of their ethnic background which may not have been there when they were amongst their own ethnic kind in the rural areas. One can argue that even in societies where ethnic consciousness is not as pervasive, a first-generation community in a somewhat alien setting is expected to manifest a similar psychological response. A sense of insecurity, a feeling of suspicion, of distrust, are some of the accompanying elements of this increased ethnic awareness. Islam provides a useful channel for the expression of this awareness since it touches the life of an ordinary Malay in a thousand different ways. No other cultural symbol of the Malay community can be as effective. The Malay language expresses only one dimension of Malay identity and besides, since 1970, it has become increasingly the language of social communication of non-Malays as well. 17 This is partly due to the implementation of Malay as the main medium of education since 1970. It cannot therefore be used as an avenue for expressing “Malayness.” But Islam on the other hand, as it is understood here, can be used as the rationale for dressing in a certain way, staying away from certain groups, avoiding certain places and, most of all, adhering to certain beliefs and ideas. More specifically, this explains why some Muslim women in colleges and universities, firms and factories—more than their counterparts in the padi-fields and rubber small-holdings—are so concerned about dressing in the “proper Islamic way,” about avoiding male company, about staying away from cinemas and so on. It also explains, I suppose, why there is so much concern among certain Muslim circles in the cities about whether “tanggung halal” [that which is permissible] signs displayed in some non-Muslim eating shops are genuine or not. 18 The crucial word here is “halal” (legitimate). “Halal” signs therefore refer to foods that Muslims are allowed to eat. There has been a great deal of discussion about this in Utusan Malaysia [Malaysian Messenger] and Utusan Melayu [Malay Messenger, daily newspapers in Kuala Lumpur] in the last two years or so.

What all this shows is that as a reaction to the non-Malay, non-Muslim dominated urban environment, certain segments of the urban Malay community are seeking to carve out a distinctive identity, establish a separate ethnic presence. As I have tried to explain, this search is not the outcome of a sudden realization of what it is to be a Muslim in terms of dress or social intercourse; rather it stems from a feeling of deep insecurity that compels the individual concerned to protect his “Malayness.” This is why he chooses only those elements from Islam which will help him maintain his separateness, his distinctiveness. After all, an Islamic identity is much more than dress forms or modes of social intercourse. Is not a Muslim also defined on the basis of his commitment to truth and justice, his readiness to fight oppression and corruption, his willingness to help the poor, the weak, his capacity for charity, for kindness? There are numerous verses in the Qur'an that support such an idea of a Muslim identity. One such verse says,

And show him the two highways? But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep, and what will explain to thee the path that is steep? It is freeing the bondman; or the giving of food in a day of privation, to the orphan with claims of relationship, or to the indigent down in the dust. Then will he be of those who believe and enjoin patience (constancy and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion. Such are the Companions of the Right Hand. (Sura Al-Balad [Sura 90], Verses 10–18)

Another verse says,

Seest thou one who denies the Judgment (to come)? Then such as the (man) who repulses the orphan (with harshness). And encourages not the feeding of the indigent. So woe to the worshippers who are neglectful of their prayers. Those who (want but) to be seen (of man) but refuse (to supply) (even) neighborly needs. (Sura Al-Ma‘un [Sura 107], Verses 1–7)

Of course, defining the identity of a Muslim in terms of his kindness to the poor will not serve the purpose of maintaining a separate identity since kindness like compassion is a sentiment, a value, which any human being, Muslim or non-Muslim, Malay or non-Malay, is capable of. If, on the other hand, one emphasizes dress or food or various rituals which are specific and exclusive to the religion, one would be highlighting forms and practices which others cannot share. Thus, one would be able to sustain a Muslim/non-Muslim dichotomy which at the emotional-psychological level equals a Malay/non-Malay, a Bumiputra/non-Bumiputra dichotomy.

So far, I have shown that the interest in Islam in the 1970s is closely aligned to the crystallization of ethnic consciousness in a new urban environment. Insecurity has been suggested as one of the propelling forces behind this consciousness. There is, however, another psychological force which is also at work at the same time—a force which superficially at least appears to contradict the feeling of insecurity we have just analyzed. The political climate of the 1970s with its emphasis upon Malay interests and aspirations in the economy, in politics, and in the cultural life of the nation has bestowed various Malay groups with a sense of confidence about the legitimacy of their demands. 19 The genesis of this whole atmosphere is discussed in my “Some Political Perspectives on the New Economic Policy,” Fourth Malaysian Economic Convention (Malaysian Economic Association, 1977). Confidence of this sort derived from an overall political situation where the Malay position is undoubtedly strong and powerful can, of course, co-exist quite happily with insecurity generated by a specific urban environment where the Malay position is neither strong nor powerful as yet. It is because there is this confidence that Malay groups are more vocal than ever before in demanding an Islamic administration based upon the Qur'an and the sunna (the way of the Prophet), Islamic laws, an Islamic economic system, an Islamic education system, indeed, a total Islamic society. 20 The development of these demands finds some mention in my “Dominant Concepts and Dissenting Ideas on Malay Society and Malay Rule from the Malacca Period to the Merdeka Period,” Doctoral Thesis, University of Singapore, 1977. There are a number of things about these demands which must be noted. Firstly, as I have mentioned, the stronger Malay political position—an ethnic phenomenon—is at the root of these demands. Secondly, like the obsession with dress and rituals, the interest in Islamic laws cannot possibly evoke any empathy from the non-Muslims since Islamic laws are also, on the whole, very specific to the religion. It would have been different if the concern was with fighting exploitation or ensuring self-reliance—goals which are highly cherished in Islam—since they have an appeal that transcends religious boundaries. The emphasis given to Islamic laws and Islamic administration only helps to underline the differences that exist between Muslims and non-Muslims and, by implication, Malays and non-Malays. In that sense, it reveals the true character of the whole agitation for an Islamic state. Thirdly, if it were a genuine Islamic movement inspired by a genuine Islamic consciousness there would have been an increasing endeavor to study and analyze the structure and content of an Islamic society in Malaysia. This is particularly important in our context because the non-Muslim segment is a little more than half of the total population. How this large number of non-Muslims would fit into an Islamic society, what their rights and roles would be, what responsibilities they would share with the Muslims, how they would relate to an Islamic legislature or judicial system—all these and a number of other issues should have been debated and discussed in depth and detail. The fact is there has been no such effort. This lack of interest in the position and status of the non-Muslims among the so-called “Champions of Islam” of the 1970s is no different from the total lack of concern for the non-Muslims and non-Malays exhibited by PAS in the 1950s and 1960s. It is because there isn’t this concern, that no Muslim group in the country has taken up cudgels on behalf of the non-Muslim poor. Yet, the humanitarian ideals which lie at the heart of Islam, the noble examples of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) and the great caliphs which I had alluded to earlier, would demand such a response.

Once again, this negative attitude of various Muslim groups exposes the real nature of their political struggle. It is just another way of preserving Malayism. To understand this better, one has to compare the situation here with the attitudes that prevailed among Islamic groups in Indonesia from the 1930s right up to the 1960s. In spite of a smaller non-Muslim population, leaders of the Masyumi [party] in particular, like Muhammad Natsir [1908–1993], spent so much time and effort elucidating the rights and responsibilities of non-Muslims in the Islamic state they envisaged for Indonesia. 21 See various parts in Muhammad Natsir, Capita Selecta [Selected Works], volumes I and II (Jakarta, Indonesia: Pustaka Pendis, 1957). One of their more important intellectual commitments was the quest for common principles that could unite Muslims and non-Muslims—a commitment which conforms with Qur'anic ideals. 22 The Qur'anic call for common principles is contained in Sura Al-‘Imran [Sura 3], Verses 64–66. In this connection, no Muslim group in Malaysia has ever bothered to embark upon such a mission, though, at the level of social philosophy, there are many outstanding similarities between Islam and aspects of Chinese culture and Hindu thought. 23 For some discussion of common values, see my “Values in the Education System,” New Directions (Singapore), March 1976. The reason is, of course, obvious. It is because Islam is seen from a communal angle—not a universal perspective. Finally, one would have thought that those who seek to establish an Islamic state would first examine critically the ideas, beliefs and attitudes of the Muslim community itself, in order to discover if these are elements which need to be jettisoned in the endeavor to create a genuine Islamic spirit. Apart from the occasional blast at some insignificant ritual like Mandi Safar or puja ceremonies, 24 “Mandi Safar” is a sort of purification bath confined mainly to Muslim groups in Malacca. It is pre-Islamic in origin and has some roots in Hindu custom. One of the better known puja ceremonies was the puja conducted for fishermen going out to sea. It was once popular in Kelantan. The former PAS government banned it. Muslim groups have maintained an embarrassing silence in relation to more fundamental ideas and attitudes within Malay society. These are ideas and attitudes which need to be rectified in the interest of Islam. One such important idea which I have already analyzed is the whole notion of Bumiputraism. If the post-1970 Muslim movement was genuinely Islamic it would have at least attempted to show Muslims how a concept based upon ethnicity and ancestry—or upon residence and territory if you like—does not synchronize with Islamic values. The willingness to live with Bumiputraism, and worse still, defend it at times, shows that the real spirit of Islam has not crystallized. After all, Islam is a religion which has even questioned nationalism—let alone the perpetuation of communal dichotomies within a nation. Muhammad Iqbal [1877–1938], one of the greatest Muslims of this century, argued that territorial or racial nationalism was foreign to the spirit of Islam. As one writer on Iqbal put it,

He [Iqbal] was convinced now that it would be a tragically retrograde step if the Muslim World began to try to remedy its frustrations by replacing the global Islamic sentiment by aggressive nationalism of the Western type. He conceived of Islam as a universal religion which envisaged all humanity as a unity. But the Islam of his time had become narrow, rigid and static. He conceived of life as evolutionary and dynamic. He came to the conclusion that a fossilized religious dogmatism could not generate an outlook that would lead to the self-realization of individuals and communities. 25 See Khalifah Abdul Hakim's “Renaissance in Indo-Pakistan: Iqbal,” in M. M. Sharif, editor, A History of Muslim Philosophy, volume 2 (Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassowitz, 1966), p. 1619.

It is this universal character of Islam, its conception of humanity as a unity, that we have attempted to present in this book. For this purpose we have chosen four illustrious names from Islamic history [Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207–1273), Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi (1702–1762), Abul Kalam Azad (1888–1958), and Ameer Ali (1849–1928)]. . . . ALIRAN hopes that through the writings of these great thinkers the Malaysian public will achieve a deeper understanding of Islam. Because the views they have espoused are hardly known in our country, we can expect a number of our readers to express some misgivings.

But whatever their misgivings, it is our fervent prayer that they will go on looking for the truth in a sincere and rational manner. For in this quest for truth lies the future of Islam.

Bibliography references:

11. Mawdudi, The Islamic Law and Constitution, p. 159.

Notes:

1. M. Kamal Hassan, “Malaysia,” in John L. Esposito, editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), volume 3, pp. 35–38; Hussin Mutalib, Islam and Ethnicity in Malay Politics (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1990); Chandra Muzaffar, “Ethnicity, Ethnic Conflict, and Human Rights in Malaysia,” in Claude E. Welch Jr. and Virginia A. Leary, editors, Asian Perspectives on Human Rights (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1990), pp. 107–141; K. J. Ratnam, Communalism in the Political Process in Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: University of Malaya Press, 1965); R. K. Vasil, Ethnic Politics in Malaysia (New Delhi: Radiant, 1980); Karl von Vorys, Democracy without Consensus: Communalism and Political Stability in Malaysia (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975).

2. Daniel S. Lev, “Human Rights NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations] in Indonesia and Malaysia,” in Welch and Leary, Asian Perspectives on Human Rights, pp. 142–161; Amyn B. Sajoo, Pluralism in “Old Societies and New States”: Emerging ASEAN Contexts (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1994), pp. 53–54; and Sajoo, “Pondering the ‘Periphery’: Pluralist Trends in Southeast Asia,” Muslim Politics Report, number 8, Summer 1996, p. 5.

3. There is this awareness, though non-Malays who become Muslims are sometimes referred to as people who have “masuk Melayu” (become Malays). “Masuk Melayu,” however, need not be interpreted literally; it could simply mean those who have adopted the religion of the Malays.

4. These communities would be the Kadazans, Ibans, and others of East Malaysia in the main and some of the Orang Asli of West Malaysia.

5. In both Sabah and Sarawak, for instance, the Chief Ministership and certain other important political offices are held by indigenous Muslims, though non-Muslim indigenous communities are numerically stronger in both states. For a fuller discussion of politics in these states, see K. J. Ratnam and R. S. Milne, New States in a New Nation (London: Frank Cass, 1974).

6. See “Amanat Yang di-Pertua Agong PAS Ulang Tahun 1958” [The 1958 Anniversary Speech of the President of the PAS], in Cenderamata Pembukaan Bangunan PAS Kelantan & Kongres PAS ke 13 [Souvenir Program in Conjunction with the Opening of the PAS's Building in Kelantan and the Thirteenth PAS Congress].

7. For a detailed analysis see my “Protection of the Malay Community: A study of UMNO's Position and Opposition Attitudes,” Masters Thesis, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 1974.

8. See A. Yusuf Ali [1872–1952], The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary (Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1972).

9. For a discussion on the Constitution of Medina, see Zainal Abidin Ahmad, Piagam Nabi Muhammad s.a.w. [Charter of the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be upon Him] (Jakarta, Indonesia: Bulan Bintang, 1973).

10. See Sayyid Abul A‘la Mawdudi, The Islamic Law and Constitution (Lahore, Pakistan: Islamic Publications Ltd.), p. 312.

12. In commenting upon that sura, Yusuf Ali notes, “In Islam, the equal status of the sexes is not only recognized but insisted on. If sex distinction, which is a distinction in nature, does not count in spiritual matters, still less of course would count artificial distinctions such as rank, wealth, position, race, color, birth, etc.” A. Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 175.

13. For the UMNO leadership as a whole, Bumiputraism is apparently justified on its own basis. Some analysis of this is available in my “The New Economic Policy and the Quest for National Unity,” Fifth Malaysian Economic Convention (Malaysian Economic Association, 1978).

14. Two points, however, must be made. Firstly, there are without any doubt a number of Muslim youths who understand genuine Islamic principles. See, for instance, the view of Anwar Ibrahim [born 1947] (President, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia [Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia], or ABIM), in Bintang Timur [Eastern Star], 1st March 1979. Secondly, the world-wide interest in Islam among young Muslims has also had some bearing upon the Malaysian situation, but I do not consider it a crucial factor.

15. This is due to both the rural-urban drift which has been on since Merdeka [Independence, 1957], and the New Economic Policy (NEP) [since the early 1970s] which among other things emphasizes Malay participation in commerce and industry.

16. See The Star, 20 March 1979.

17. This is partly due to the implementation of Malay as the main medium of education since 1970.

18. The crucial word here is “halal” (legitimate). “Halal” signs therefore refer to foods that Muslims are allowed to eat. There has been a great deal of discussion about this in Utusan Malaysia [Malaysian Messenger] and Utusan Melayu [Malay Messenger, daily newspapers in Kuala Lumpur] in the last two years or so.

19. The genesis of this whole atmosphere is discussed in my “Some Political Perspectives on the New Economic Policy,” Fourth Malaysian Economic Convention (Malaysian Economic Association, 1977).

20. The development of these demands finds some mention in my “Dominant Concepts and Dissenting Ideas on Malay Society and Malay Rule from the Malacca Period to the Merdeka Period,” Doctoral Thesis, University of Singapore, 1977.

21. See various parts in Muhammad Natsir, Capita Selecta [Selected Works], volumes I and II (Jakarta, Indonesia: Pustaka Pendis, 1957).

22. The Qur'anic call for common principles is contained in Sura Al-‘Imran [Sura 3], Verses 64–66.

23. For some discussion of common values, see my “Values in the Education System,” New Directions (Singapore), March 1976.

24. “Mandi Safar” is a sort of purification bath confined mainly to Muslim groups in Malacca. It is pre-Islamic in origin and has some roots in Hindu custom. One of the better known puja ceremonies was the puja conducted for fishermen going out to sea. It was once popular in Kelantan. The former PAS government banned it.

25. See Khalifah Abdul Hakim's “Renaissance in Indo-Pakistan: Iqbal,” in M. M. Sharif, editor, A History of Muslim Philosophy, volume 2 (Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassowitz, 1966), p. 1619.

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