If he were alive, Tunku Abdul Rahman would have wept to find that every brick he laid for the foundation of multi-cultural Malaysia has crumbled. The nation he envisaged is not the Malaysia we now know.
Today, the muftis rule supreme. Few dare to question them. Even Umno’s coalition partners are afraid. What is the point of those partners’ existence if they can’t represent the interests of their constituents for fear that they’d be treading on egg shells?
Some muftis have made clearly inflammatory remarks and got away with them, but ordinary Malaysians are threatened with arrest and travel bans if the words they utter have even a hint of provocation.
Last week, Pahang Mufti Abdul Rahman Osman said DAP and some other groups, including MCA and MIC, should be considered “kafir harbi” and urged Muslims to shun them. The term can be roughly translated as “hostile infidels”.
Some people might recall the Tunku’s address to the Foreign Correspondents’ Association in May 1961, in which he warned against “a small minority” who did not “think, feel, believe” like Malaysians and would not work for the national good.
The Tunku embraced a belief in multiculturalism. “The Chinese, Malays and others have to make the best of our home here,” he said. “Malaya (is) our one and only home.” Unless there was unity, he added, “there would be conflict and hell would break loose.”
Let us imagine the fulfillment of the Pahang Mufti’s dream of a Ketuanan Melayu and Islamic Utopia, with all the Chinese and Indians banished from the land. Will we be socially, economically, morally and religiously contented in our exclusively Malay-Muslim domain? Are Afghanistan and Somalia successful and peaceful?
In the Malay-Muslim Utopia, will the handful of individuals who control the wealth of the nation relinquish their economic stranglehold and share the national wealth with everyone? Will poorer Muslims be better off? Will women be able to continue what they do now, like going to university, having a job and going about unchaperoned in public? What about non-Muslim bumiputeras? What is their future in this Utopia?
The Pahang Mufti is naïve if he thinks that without infidels in Malaysia, poverty, crime and inequality will be no more. Has he and like-minded muftis ever wondered why Muslims flee their war-torn countries to make their way to the secular West?
Do they think that with non-Muslims gone from Malaysia, those who are in now control won’t cling to their power? Won’t the next power struggle be between the mullahs and the politicians?
It’s time for ordinary, hardworking, peace loving and sensible Malays to be courageous and speak out against muftis who mislead the Muslim public. Some Muslims, suffering from an identity crisis, may feel beholden to the so-called ulama who urge them to shun others in the name of God. But there remain many Malay Muslims who are knowledgeable enough not to be fooled. These are the ones who should seize back their religion from the demagogues.
Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.
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