This blog is all about my writings, however, when some one else writes or quotes about me, I included this at this blog. Azrul Mohd Khalib has quoted the article I wrote about Ramadan - Mike Ghouse.
Courtesy - The Malay mail online.
12 — While I was listening to the Hari Raya Aidilfitri sermon at the
National Mosque the other day, I was struck by its gloomy, depressing
and combative tone. Rather than a message of celebration and rejoicing
at the achievements represented by the conclusion of the holy month of
Ramadan, the sermon was one which spoke in strident tones about the
enemies of the faith, and attacks and threats to the ummah.
of the elements identified in the sermon as being a threat to Islam
(along with secularism and feminism, strangely enough) was pluralism.
in less than 10 years, pluralism has become from being a proud
attribute of multicultural and multi-ethnic Malaysia to one that has
been vilified and has left certain people trembling in their boots.
case anyone is unsure, the Oxford dictionary defines pluralism as being
a condition or system in which two or more states, groups, principles,
sources of authority, etc., co-exist. In the context of Malaysia, a
condition in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious or cultural
groups are present and tolerated within a society.
Somehow, someone, somewhere has deemed pluralism to be the equivalent of a four-letter word.
lives and breathes in Islam. It is embedded in the rich traditions of
Islamic academia where from antiquity the religion prides itself in the
diversity of views and the value of rigorous academic discourse and
dialogue. Thus, the discourses and arguments of Muslim jurists and
scholars of the likes of Al Kindi, Al Biruni, Ibn Sina are spoken in the
same breath as the Greek and Roman philosophers such as Socrates,
Cicero and Marcus Aurelius. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle ||
The best example of religious pluralism in Islam
comes from the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself who offered a delegation
of Christians from the kingdom of Najran his own mosque, Al-Masjid
al-Nabawi, for their prayers. What is this gesture if not recognition of
the plurality of religion by the Prophet? Didn’t other religions not
only survive but also flourish under early Islam? What does it say to
others that pluralism is now considered a bad thing?
As I sat
listening to this rather gloomy sermon, I was struck by how successfully
pluralistic Islam has been and still is. Consider the fact that the
congregation that morning was from all walks of life, composed of
peoples of different ethnicity and from many countries, spoke at least a
dozen different languages, and were all gathered together in one faith.
This is what Islam and any of the other world’s religions are about:
the diversity of their congregations is their strength. There is much to
be proud of. Yet we have a sermon preaching that plurality is bad.
do not live in a bubble. To deny pluralism in Islam is to deny what
makes the faith one of the great religions of the world. The beauty of
these religions is marked by the fact that they open their arms to all
but bar their doors to none.
It’s strange that everywhere else
in the world, the pluralism of Islam is a source of pride. Mike Ghouse
of the think-tank World Muslim Congress recently highlighted this very
issue in his article “One Ramadan Many Celebrations; Islamic Pluralism
in Action” published in the Huffington Post. Yet, in our country, we are
running down the very strength of this great religion. Why? What are we
so scared about?
We seem to be scared of shadows and terrified
of change. It struck me that it could be as simple as the powers-that-be
had little or no comprehension as to the meaning of the word. Perhaps
an officer had included the term and it has stuck there ever since. To
any right-minded person, It just doesn’t make sense. And because we are
ignorant and are unwilling to learn, we strike out at what we do not
know. Ignorance breeds fear. What does that say about us?
is a bunch of people promoting monism by virtue of disparaging and
demonising pluralism. Monism is a state of mind which argues that the
variety of existing things can be explained in terms of a single reality
or substance. They insist that their perspectives, opinions and
judgments are the only acceptable reality for all and may not be
questioned. This arrogance is not what our faith is about. Neither is it
about being rigid, regressive, dominant, tyrannical nor authoritarian.
These are the antithesis of what Islam should and is all about. Oh, and
these people often sound like children scared of the unseen bogeyman who
lurks underneath the bed.
I later heard from someone who was
watching the Raya prayers on television and who listened to the sermons.
She decided midway to switch the channel to something a lot more
festive and appropriate for the day. The tone of the sermon just felt
wrong and depressing. So the next time the label “pluralism” is hurled
at our feet as if it were something to be ashamed of, or something dirty
and something to run away from, we should pick it up and wear it as a
badge of honour and pride.
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Maaf Zahir dan Batin! -