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Muslim and non-Muslim divide must end, says Islamic scholar

 | September 13, 2017

Siddiq Fadzil urges Muslims to be at the forefront of the struggle to realise the Bangsa Malaysia concept.

Siddiq-Fadzil-Muslim-and-non-Muslim-divide-1SHAH ALAM: A veteran Islamic scholar has called on Muslims in the country to stop looking at Malaysians as Muslim and non-Muslim, saying such a dichotomy was a throwback to the 8th century when the Muslim world was at war.

Siddiq Fadzil, a former president of the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement who now heads Selangor’s Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE), said it was time for Muslims to move beyond terms such as “kafir harbi” (non-Muslims at war with Muslims) and “kafir dhimmi” (non-Muslims who are under Islamic rule).

He said Muslims should also look at terms such as ummah (community) and ukhuwah (brotherhood) in a broader sense, adding that it could lead to a perception that Islam is an obstacle to nation-building.

“(It is said) that Bangsa Malaysia cannot be realised because of Islam while in truth, Islam already provides solutions to multi-religious and multi-ethnic relations,” he said, referring to a concept promoted by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad as a solution to blurring racial lines among Malaysians.

Siddiq was speaking at a seminar themed “Unity in the framework of diversity” organised by IDE today. The institute’s Community Unity Research Centre, of which Siddiq is an adviser, was also launched at the event.

Siddiq said it was unfortunate that long after independence, the Bangsa Malaysia concept has yet to be realised.

“We are tolerant of one another. That’s as far as we’ve gone but we haven’t reached the level where Malaysians are passionate about the fact that we are each other’s brothers in a larger Bangsa Malaysia.”

He said Muslims should be at the forefront of the struggle to achieve Bangsa Malaysia.

“We need a new political approach which is more open, more positive, more accommodative, and more realistic.

“Diversity is a gift that if used well, will lead to strength,” he said.

Siddiq went on to give an example of how some Malaysian Muslims were not comfortable in accepting their non-Muslim friends.

“Batu MP Tian Chua likes to say ‘Assalamualaikum’ to his Muslim friends, and I see that his Muslim friends are confused as to what they should say.

“This is such a simple matter: just say Waalikumsalam,” he said.

Meanwhile, lecturer Maszlee Malik listed several conditions before the new narrative could exist.

They are unconditional love and mercy, humanity, a feeling of brotherliness with one another, mutual respect, responsibility, and equal opportunity.

“In looking for our similarities and in building a single nation, we must also appreciate and respect what makes us different in our own unique racial and religious makeup because if we don’t, then we will lose the sincerity required in such a struggle.”


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