How Quran can be the
SOME concerned Malaysians, after 30 years of independence, may perhaps feel as despondent as Hamlet, and say with him:
Fortunately for us, unlike Hamlet, we are living in a democratic era and our problem is not wholly a personal family problem, like his. All concerned Malaysians must act together to set our disjoined time right.
This is not an indictment of our present government – it is of all the governments that we have had in the past 30 years. It is also an indictment of all our leaders, past and present, political, social and religious, past office-holders and current critics, as well as all of us. For what we reap today is the fruit of what we sowed yesterday. Sowers are we all.
All the scandals, costing billions of ringgit, that have surfaced or have been unearthed within the last three or four years; the fragmentation of parties and the expensive politicking and party electioneering; the tearing apart of society by ideological, political and party sectarian fanaticism; the multitude of amoral, unthinking, robotic new intelligentsia and bureaucrats; costly opportunistic politicians, the army of unemployed; the half-million youthful victims of drug abuse, and the unseen, neglected and forgotten poor minority of our community – these are the stuff of our Malaysian disjointed time.
It is time, after 30 years, that we look at the whole panorama from a perspective of jointed time and, like Hamlet, set it right, even if we have to kill our mother’s lover in doing sp.
There are always two sides to any matter. The gloom that we have painted is only one-half of the picture. It may be the more noticeable and dramatic half. The other half is the brighter but perhaps less obvious side, that is, the growth and development of all sectors of our economy, the growth of a Malaysian middle class, the growth of a Malay middle class, the development of a national education system based on the national language, the beginnings of a Malaysian national consciousness, the beginnings made to develop Malay as the language of learning and high culture in our country, the rapid spread of education, literacy, health care and public amenities, the beginnings of a critical consciousness, the almost uninterrupted peace and order prevailing in the country. These are no mean achievements. They should be consolidated, upgraded and perfected.
Like Brutus, we now pause. It is very important pause. The indulgent reader will pardon me for quoting from a notorious poem of mine, improbably titled Sidang Ruh, that I wrote 27 years ago during one of my heretical moods:
Perlu satu-satu diperhitungkan kemball
The mood seems to persist with me, with due respect to our theologians (who unfortunately have made it their solemn business to save souls, although souls are only saved by their Maker).
I still want to urge that we make a fundamental review of our situation. We have to re-examine our basic premises. This is a good time to do so, not only because a generation has now passed and we are beset with seemingly insoluble problems, but also because we now have the tools and the moral will to do so.
By tools, I refer to the world’s intellectual developments within the last 60 years or so. Man’s critical intellect has thoroughly criticised of the major ideologies of our time. The scientists, writers and philosophers of each or no camp have refuted the other or all camps, thus negating all ideological camps.
In this way the ideological errors of liberal democracy, communism and religious theocracy have been thoroughly exposed.
This theoretical refutation, however, is not the only proof of their errors. Real-life experiences have condemned them long before this theoretical exposure. Nevertheless, the theoretical invalidation is an extremely important milestone in Man’s intellectual journey to the realm of peace, freedom, truth and justice.
The most glaring error is the bifurcation of life into this-worldly and other-worldly, that is the legacy of Descartes’ modern philosophical dualism which has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and render unto God the things that are God’s” is the biblical channel through which this great fallacy has come down to us.
Prophet Muhammad came to redress the fallacy with Islam’s divine concept of tawhid or unity of God, unity of universal existence and unity of life. However, as is mankind’s wont, even his followers later reverted to this dualism for all practical purposes, even though their theologians never admitted it in theory.
So, even in our case, Islam became a religion in the sense of a mystical religious life separated from the social and practical, just as other religious in the past had become. We are Muslims because we fulfil certain set ritual obligations like the affirmation of the syahadah (“I affirm that there is no God but Allah and I affirm that Muhammad is His messenger”), and the performance of daily prayers, fasting, charity and the haj, if we have the means. In other sectors of life, in short, in the socio-political sphere, we take our guidance from the Western secular philosophies of liberalism or Marxism or some diluted forms of the one or the other.
Benefiting from humanity’s intellectual achievements during the last 60 years, we must now admit the basic errors of liberalism and Marxism. Of course, it is not easy to make the mental transition from an old outmoded materialism to a new spiritual rationalism.
This is the strongest argument for preparing the ground carefully. For one thing, there is the Iranian-type religious elite who, exploiting the religious sentiment of the masses, are keenly desirous of establishing a religious dictatorship that is equally repugnant to Islam.
For another, there are still secular groups of the Right and the Left who continue to live in their cocoon of blissful sectarianism and who are completely blind to the current demolition of their idols and collapse of their ideological utopias.
The current resurgence of Islam is due to many factors, both of a permanent and deep-rooted nature as well as of a temporary and fashionable one. The Quran describes Islam as divine religion of truth, progressively taught by all God’s prophet-messengers from Adam down to Muhammad, including Moses and Jesus, to all national groups, culminating in Muhammad whose teaching in the Quran, containing the essence and the best, is applicable universally.
Seen from this universalistic perspective, the Islamic resurgence will persist into the far future and will save and remould the world according to the lofty teachings of the Quran in the
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