Published in Malaysiakini.
President Sukarno, Founding Father of Indonesia, was in Central Kalimantan on one occasion, directing the design of Palangkaraya to become the capital of the entire Republic. His design is still on the boards, and there is recent debate whether to move the entire governmental structure to that location. All three Islamic-based political parties have suffered losses in recent parliamentary elections. Furthermore, government workers complain bitterly at the overcrowding in present-day Jakarta.
Sukarno chose Palangkaraya to take the “leadership spotlight” off of the Javanese who had ruled much of the area for many centuries. The local ethnic and religious mix there was quite varied, and so he took the occasion to deliver an infamous speech in which he declared that Indonesia must NEVER be an Islamic State, and the Indonesian government absolutely insists that Indonesia (under the state ideology known as “Pancasila“) is an entirely secular government. Kalimantan would have been a good location to get the “spotlight” off of Islam as the dominant force in the modern-day Republic, if that is what the Indonesians really want.
The long-term effects of using “Pancasila” to replace Islam as a value and ideology base have been bitterly debated for a long time. President Suharto effectively ended the debate by defining Pancasila as the ONLY legal basis for Indonesian governance and law. One religious teacher of my personal acquaintance was actually buried in the ground up to his head and fed only water for two weeks, in punishment for teaching his students that Pancasila was unIslamic.
What has been the result of this Pancasila deliberate displacement of Islam? Aesthetically, the Islamic majority of Indonesia is quite hidden compared to Malaysia, as one can see in the totally secular design of Jakarta architecture, as well as such phenomena as no tudungs at all on TV. If a Martian suddenly landed in downtown Jakarta, he might have no idea what sort of country he was in.
Locals justify the lack of Islamization of their city environment by saying that according to the principles of Pancasila, the non-Muslim Indonesians must not be offended by Islamic design and practice in public areas. Even the National Istiqlal Mosque was designed by a Christian architect with a central dome supported by the “magic Christian number” of twelve columns.
A large part of Malaysia’s recent successes in the modern world are due to government support of Islamic style and practice, in spite of these policies causing such dread and fear in the non-Muslim countries, obviously due to lack of proper understanding and media stereotypes about Islam. Islamic policies give our people pride and self-esteem, thanks to the genius of those who were not afraid to position Islam as the religion of the Federation. The implications brought about by this special position were in fact once translated into real policies used to be protected by our Caliph in Istanbul, but must now be re-acquired, sometimes painfully, Islamic state-by-state.
In fact, a truly enduring model of Islamic governance was the brilliant Muslim reign in Andalusia (modern Spain), which lasted almost 700 years. And the downfall of THAT model was exacerbated by the incredibly “dirty fighting” of the Catholics, Isabella and Ferdinand, king and queen at that time. If you insisted that God was One, these monarchs created the Inquisition to torture you until you declared “God is Three”.
With their plunder literally stolen from the Andalusian Muslims, Isabella funded Columbus’ discovery of the USA, with its following model of freemasonic secular governance. His voyage took place in 1492, the exact same year as the final fall of the Muslims at Granada, in their battles to preserve the Andalusian Muslim legacy.
As has refreshingly been pointed out by the Minister at the Prime Minister’s Department, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Malaysia has never been declared a secular nation and the Federal Constitution made no mention of the word ‘secular’. And even if we prefer not to call Malaysia an “Islamic State” due to the loaded content of that phrase, and also due to the considerable variety of definitions of “Islamic State” in the different Islamic Legal Schools of Thought, we are still nevertheless engaged in the critical task of forming a Muslim polity that need not bow down to the mobilization of Western secular forces, such as the United Nations.
We are in fact attempting to form a model of a State following the constitutionally enshrined Religion of Islam, which can help the entire Muslim world to resist the secular aspects of western liberalization (for example, the LGBT demands for legal and public recognition), as well as make up for the hundreds of colonial years after the 1492 fall of Andalusia, during which Islam’s undeniable enlightenment in the arts and sciences was hijacked by the secular West.
And so, it is up to Malaysia more than any other Muslim country to create at least some implementation that would most closely approximate the Ummah we originally had under the Prophet himself (may Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him) in multi-racial Madinah Al-Munawwarah.
Malaysia is struggling manfully to strike this balance. We can be justifiably proud of our downtown area and its peoples, which no Martian would mistake for anything other than a Muslim city. We can find tudungs galore, as well as many calls-to-prayer and other religious reminders for Muslims on the public media. Yet, although the 35% non-Muslim citizenry worries much about “hudud” and even sometimes the Azans being too loud from their local mosques, they prosper. They do not care to return to their ancestral countries.
Instead of complaining that the balance is not right this way or that, we should give thanks to Almighty Allah SWT that our country is really the only one in the world that is trying to achieve this balance in a fair-minded and Islamic way, which still requires fairness to all religious practices within her borders. What matters most is the spirit to achieve the actual Islamic practice which has been and will be ongoing in our country’s daily governmental, legal, and public lives.