Thursday, August 5, 2010

Unity: Hold fast to the Rope of Allah

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

"Did ye then think that We created you in jest,
and that ye would not be brought back to Us for account?" (Mu'minum 23:115)

IN 1985, when I joined a leading Malay daily, I met several prominent writers such as A Samad Ismail and A Samad Said. They were top writers; their works such as novels graced the Malay literature world. In short there were volumes of stories on both of them; but what about the lesser known writer?

One such writer that caught my attention was Abdul Razak Ayub who at that time was a high court reporter. I observed how he displayed some books on his desk work, one of which was ‘Perpecahan Bangsa Melayu’ (Divisions within the Malay Community) written by him. It was published by Dewan Pustaka Fajar, the first edition was printed in 1985.

I had approached Abdul Razak to read the book, without realising that one day the topic and points raised by him in the book were in my opinion were answers to our present day squabbling – unity among Malays/Muslims.

Recently when the unity issue resurfaced, I searched for Abdul Razak’s ‘Perpecahan Bangsa Melayu’ but failed to find it be it from my own collection of books or public library for my reference. But I was very fortunate to find a summary on his book in a journal – Asian Research Trends No 7 (1997) under the topic ‘Recent Trends in the Study of Islamic Revivalism in Contemporary Malaysia’ by Iik Arifin Mansurnoor.

On Abdul Razak, Iik Arifin writes: “Writing in 1985, a young Malay author, Abdul Razak Ayub, argued in favour of Islam over nationalism. The ruling politicians were using Islam for their own political interests. They had made a blunder by equating Islam to ‘Malayness’ and vice versa.

These leaders belonged to the newly educated group which was closely attached to the British. By putting Islam within the Malay cultural matrix, Muslim had been divided according to diverse cultural categories.

Islam cannot be specifically identified with ethnicity. The current division within the Malay Muslim community between the nationalists and the Islamists can be resolved, Abdul Razak insists; only by returning to the full acceptance of Islamic teaching (penghayatan Islam sepenuhnya tanpa kecuali dan pilihan).

Such teaching should be derived directly from the Qur’an and Sunna (Prophetic tradition), Nevertheless, the interpretation of these two sources cannot be based on public opinion or developments in particular places and time, except those of the Prophet. Conversely customs, society, place and time must be evaluated by the standards set by the Qur’an and Sunna.

The survival and prosperity of the country depends on the progress of its Muslim population. Since they are the majority, as Abdul Razak remarks, they have an obligation to become models and pioneers in progress and unity.

More specifically, Muslims in Malaysia cannot take Islam merely as a conglomerate of symbols and ceremonial expressions; such an undertaking will only undermine the role of Islam in society.

To achieve unity the Muslims need to adhere fully to Islam and put aside nationalism, which only perpetuates secularism.” (Asian Research Trends, page 57)

So the solution to Malay/Muslim unity as Abdul Razak suggested, is by fully accepting Islamic teaching (penghayatan Islam sepenuhnya) including Islamic law such as ‘hudud’. Thus if a group fails to adhere to such law while another one is in favour of it, then there is no unity among the two groups.

In Asian Research Trends, Iik Arifin commentary on Abdullah Jusuh’s book ‘Pengenalan Tamadun Islam di Malaysia’ (Introduction to Islamic Civilization in Malaysia) published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in 1990; notes the divisions within the Malay community are a product of Western colonialism. Modern education became the dividing line between the political elite and religious leaders.

Having been educated in modern schools, these political elites adopted the Western concepts of nation-state and government. Religion was not given a proper place in public life.

Accordingly, the process of the ‘de-Islamization’ of Malay culture began. More specially, the adoption of nationalism perpetuates secularization. To make matter worse, politics has been based on racial polarization.

As the majority component, the Malays should discard racial politics and implement Islam instead. As a reference Abdullah points to the Prophet, who struck a deal with other non-Muslim segments of Madinah shortly after his migration to the city.

A promising future can be achieved for Malaysia only through the full implementation of Islam by its adherents.” (Asian Research Trends, page 57)

It is interesting to note that Abdullah said Malays should discard racial politics and implement Islam instead. So the Malays could be united only by Islam; party or parties that are reluctant to follow the way of the Prophet (pbuh) should be abandoned; only the ones that are willing to carry out Allah’s and His Prophet’s orders should be given support.

Yes all Muslims are brothers, they are as one body. Muslims are brothers in religion and they must not oppress one another, nor abandon assisting each other, nor hold one another in contempt.

Allah The Almighty tells us not to divide, but first of all, we must hold fast to the Rope of Allah – “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur'an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah's Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.,) clear to you, that you may be guided.” (QS. Ali Imran 3:103)

The key word here is hold fast to the Rope of Allah (surrender and follow all His orders); thus there is no unity when one holds to the Rope of Allah but the other doesn't. And there is no unity when one group oppresses another group.

But Muslims have to assist fellow brother Muslim, whether he be an oppressor or an oppressed. But how shall we do it when he is an oppressor? Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Assisting an oppressor is by forbidding and restraining him from oppression.”

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