How do we replace the ‘influential few’ bigots?

from: TK CHUA, via email

I must admit I know very little of the Islamic terms used and the names of scholars, jurists and writers mentioned in the essay by Dr Maszlee Malik and Dr Musa Mohd Nordin (The slippery slope to anarchy, FMT July 2). But I read it through, word by word, twice.

I realised that one does not need to know a particular religion well to know whether or not this religion has been interpreted and practiced correctly.

With Muslims like both of you, I know there is still hope for unity and harmony in this country going forward, despite the increasing difficulties we face each day.

I believe God must have more common sense and intelligence than human beings. If we see religious interpretations and practices that are abhorrent to humanity, justice and equality, we should know these are most probably not from God. We are His creation; we can’t be more compassionate or smarter than Him. If we humans can see injustice inequality and depravity in our midst, I think God should be able to see a thousand times more.

You rightly mentioned that “the actions of the few in our country have inadvertently equated Islam with religious intolerance and racism”. I think it is not just “the few” that concerns us; it is “the very influential few” that is the crux of the matter.

Sadly, I think the influential few have not “inadvertently” equated Islam with religious intolerance and racism. Inadvertently connotes lack of knowledge resulting in doing things mistakenly, unintentionally, or accidentally.

If we look at our religious establishment today, those coming up with parochial, bigoted, and insular interpretations of religions, are they people with insufficient knowledge? I don’t think so, for these are the leaders and scholars who have spent years studying and teaching their flocks.

It is more of deliberately skewing the interpretation to further the cause of politics and their own personal agendas. Religions are used as political football, not as salvation of mankind or salvation of the world through us (the believers).

But I like your last paragraph best. As a non-Muslim, I had begun to doubt my ability to continue existing under the Malaysian sun, but your assurance of the mutual respect, peaceful co-existence and inclusive nature of Islam in our multi-religious community is most timely.

Now we have a big task – we have to find Muslims of your caliber, temperament, knowledge, and character to replace those bigots in our religious and political establishments. If you can, please write us another piece on how you can make this happen.

T.K. Chua is an FMT reader

SEE ALSO:

The slippery slope to anarchy

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