Everyone agrees that a universal ethical ideal is harmony among peoples, especially those who are committed to their respective religion. And yet, some people, in particular after 9/11, now mistrust all “organized religion” as being troublesome on this harmony issue. It is urgent here in Malaysia that our Muslim leaders are seen unanimously to support the right steps taken to guarantee peace and security among the religions represented here, and especially to serve as an example to other Muslim countries of the true meaning of “Ummah“.
Our first and best model of “Ummah” was Madinah Munawarrah during the time of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah honour him and grant him peace). Therefore, it is a mistake to define “Islamic State” as an entity which is almost all Muslim, and in which the other religions play very minor roles, if any. By this definition, Indonesia, with 90% Muslims at various levels of devotion to their worship (Ibadah) is more of an “Ummah”. Or perhaps Bangladesh, or Saudi Arabia, or others of overwhelming Muslim populations.
Yet this is a mistake. Our Prophet (may Allah honor him and grant him peace) bequeathed to us a model of statesmanship precisely in his manner of balancing and accommodating the Jews, Christians, Sabeans, and other faiths in Madinah itself. In this writer’s opinion, now we are hoping and praying to emulate such balance and good faith among our population here in Malaysia by the Himpunan Sejuta Ummah (HIMPUN) this weekend, on behalf of which the HIMPUN secretariat has guaranteed that there will be no violence whatsoever, and that there will be no altercation on issues of theology of other religions.
It has been observed that when JAIS went into a church to retrieve a number of Malay Muslims from the Christian devotions and teachings going on, Muslims were told not to feel insecure in their feelings. It seems odd that the Christians, on their side, should feel uncomfortable when Muslims wish to exercise their democratic right to assemble and voice their feelings over issues relating to the followers of their faith in such gatherings as the upcoming HIMPUN. Could they be suffering from guilty conscience? After all, we are not trying to convert them. So why would they be nervous?
The former BERSIH 2.0 demonstration attracted the attention of numerous outside NGOs and other groups, including those who wished to secularize Malaysia and had no understanding of our total commitment to Islam as the religion of the Federation, and our fully constitutional and legislated system of Muslim monarchy, by which any secular “equality” among religions, or proselytizing among the Muslims themselves to change their beliefs, is forbidden.
These outside NGOs, such as that of the notorious George Soros, simply cannot understand the place and meaning of various Islamic-related issues, such as murtad (apostasy), polygamy, family leadership, and the forbidding of all forms of homosexuality especially including what they call “freedom of gender choice” or “same-sex marriage”, in our Malaysian life. Whereas even we Muslims have trouble with these issues, outsiders can hardly be expected to be more advanced in their own understanding.
Therefore, a newly formed secretariat has carefully planned and organized the upcoming HIMPUN to avoid fully any politicization of such contentious issues, side-by-side with the inviolability of the Malay Muslim leadership, in our public and private lives. Our private Islamic theological issues must CEASE FORTHWITH to be adjudicated, judged, or manipulated by outside interests.
Therefore, we should now support HIMPUN, which is carefully crafted to correct the dangers and stresses of the previous interference and challenge against the position of Islam in the Federal Constitution, with all such outside influences which can tear this country apart if they continue to outrage the sensitivity of the Muslims. HIMPUN has secured full permission from government authorities to be held in a completely non-violent fashion, and is also supported by not less than one thousand Muslim-based NGOs (an amazing phenomenon in itself). All Malaysian citizens are invited, regardless of religious or political affiliation. The Christians, however, must respect the self-esteem of the Muslims whose resistance to evangelical missionary activities is implacable and fully defended by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers. Muslim friendship, however, is freely available and offered to the all communities. This is the meaning behind “1Malaysia” as presently implemented by the central government.
Other Muslim groups that will be represented in the HIMPUN are educational institutions, sports and recreational clubs, self-defense societies, youth clubs, committee members of mosques and suraus, teachers, and many others. It can only be the sheerest folly for any political leaders to resist the will of their own people, especially the young and educated by opposing this event. Itinerary, provision of prayer rooms and food, publicity, public announcements, specially invited guests, and advertisements in all media have been arranged by the HIMPUN Secretariat.
The itinerary will include welcoming speech, keynote address by a prominent guest, nasyid songs emphasizing the theme of defending the sanctity of Islam, greetings from NGO representatives, munajat (do’a of supplication to Allah swt), and presentation and recitation of a pledge to defend the integrity of Islam and Muslims peoples everywhere.
AZRIL MOHD AMIN is vice president, Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia.