Kaulah Yang Maha Esa
Kaulah Yang Maha Pengasih
Kaulah Yang Maha Penyayang
Tiada hidup tanpaMu
Kaulah Yang Maha Agung
Kaulah Yang Maha Mengetahui
Tuhan dunia akhirat
Tiada aku tanpaMu
Bilaku rasa pilu
Bilaku rasa resah
Kau tempatku mengadu
OH Tuhan yang satu
Engkaulah Tuhan yang satu
Dan hidup dan matiku hanyalah
UntukMu... untukMu... untukMU
-- Ramli Sarip, Perjalanan Hidup (1987)
If one could describe Ramli Sarip's surreal song, "Kau Yang Satu", it is a spiritual journey towards submission to God. From the conscience of God's existence and attribute, to God for emotional consolation. And, with gratitude come submission. It's ultimately about one God.
The gist of God's revelation to Muhammad to convey is the single precise and clear message of the essence, unity, attributes and worship of God. If one looks at the diverse faces of Islam today, it's intriguing to see the evolved mosaic of different cultures, political nation states, and practices. Still unified by Aqeedah as specified in the Doctrine of Faith, the diverse opinions, thoughts, and philosophies should have deepen its knowledge bank. To the contrary, Islam is divided by fanaticism to personalities and sects.
It is this observation that had the venerable Tun Dr Mahathir call for a reversion to fundamental Islam, Islam of the word of God. The Quran is one true message; devoid of sectarian "branding" of Sunni vs. Syiah, Wahabi or Salafi vs. Sufi, and myriad schools of Tariqah, Mazhab and Iqtikad with each hurling accusation to the other.
Opportunity for the Marchivellist
Islamic history is laden with stories of its enemies taking opportunity from the divided Islam.
Classic movie enthusiast would remember "Lawrence of Arabia" inspiring Nationalism into the Wahabis of Saud family for separation from the declining Ottoman Empire. The movie portrayed a romantic and inspiring uprising for freedom. But, history disclosed that it is by design to break-up the Ottoman Empire.
The recent US military and media-instigated Sunni-Shiah division in Iraq was another such opportunism. In the recent PGPO Conference, it was claimed that such division never existed in Iraqi society. It not only fit the "divide and rule" mantra, but for the ulterior motive to stay longer for "Haliburton" to get contracts, cheap oil for gas guzzling American, and the American hegemonic domination of Mother Earth.
The list is long.
Religion Building of Civil Democratic Islam
Khadija Abdul Qahaar, a Canadian convert interviewed by Malaysia Today's, described the dependent on American FTA saw their intrusion into sermon prepared by the Al Azhar for Egyptians mosque. This revelation in Egypt is by design a theological warfare on Islam.
Ever since 9-11, authors, policymakers and so-called think tanks were churning to publish and advocate policy and strategy in dealing with the Muslim world. One such report is "Civil Democratic Islam - Partners Resources and Strategies" (CDI), released by the US Defense Contractor RAND Corporation in 2003 with fund raised by the conservative Smith Richardson Foundation. (Downloadable here)
CDI was authored by Cheryl Benard, an American sociologist and women theme-fiction writer. She is married to Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Assistant to President Bush and chief National Security Council (NSC) official for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia.
Khalilzad is probably the first and only Afghan-American neo-conservative and in the 1980s worked in the State Department's Policy Planning Council under Paul Wolfowitz.
CDI proposed a "religion-building" strategy of Islam i.e. redefining Islam "to encourage a moderate, democratic interpretation and presentation of Islam". This, the author acknowledge, is a more daunting, perilous and complex process than "nation-building".
The proposed direction was about, to quote, "devising a judicious approach [requiring] a finely grained understanding of the ongoing ideological struggle within Islam, to identify appropriate partners and set realistic goals and means to encourage its evolution in a positive way."
By choosing "elements, trends, and forces within Islam they intend to strengthen", Islam and the Islamic world could be influence into an outcome favourable to the interests of the West. The strategy is similar to how the West dealt with Christianity, which "included the necessity to depart from, modify, and selectively ignore elements of the original religious doctrine".
Divide and Conquer - A Proposed Strategy
Benard divides the Islamic world into the following four categories - Fundamentalists, Traditionalists, Modernists and Secularists.
The author views, to quote, "modernists and the secularists as being the closest to the West in terms of values and policies. However, they are generally in a weaker position than the other groups, lacking powerful backing, financial resources, an effective infrastructure, and a public platform."
A multi-prong strategy was designed:
- Provide financial and political support for the modernists first. Support secularists on a case-by-case basis.
- Back the traditionalists tactically against the fundamentalists. Recommendation to "encourage disagreements between traditionalists and fundamentalists", "discriminate between different sectors of traditionalism", encourage certain schools of law versus others, to "build up the stature of sufism", and encourage "sufi influence over school curricula, norms, and cultural life".
- Consistently oppose the fundamentalists. Paint fundamentalist as immoral and hypocrite, corrupt leaders, and promoting backwardness.
- Assertively promote the values of Western democratic modernity. Encourage secular civic and cultural institutions. Focus on the next generation. Provide aid to states, groups, and individuals with the right attitudes.
The Prime Minister, Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad, acknowledge the divisional problem in Islam. He even pointed out the need to solve the problem of Sectarianism in his speech at the OIC Conference in Islamabad on November 6th, 2006 last year.
His speech fell short and addressed it more from an intended purpose for economic opportunity and eradication of poverty. He was more obsessed in promoting his Islam Hadhari agenda.
Islam Hadhari has been the political mantra of Prime Minister Abdullah since his ascension to Premiership. Tun Dr Mahathir promoted Islamic value program and Vision 2020. Anwar already had an Islamic image and chose to promote "Civil Society".
Abdullah, despite coming from a religious political family and having an Islamic study degree, pursue a Nationalistic political agenda and a career in public administrations. Islam Hadhari, as rhetorical and void of specific programs as it is, was his much needed Islamic political branding. Its close similarity with Vision 2020 seemed indisputable.
On the surface, the 10 principle aims of Islam Hadhari seemed noble and harmless. The respected scholar Professor Syed Naguib Al Attas has long been preaching for a progressive Civilisational Islam. Mufti like that of Perak, Dato Harussani supports its concept. The young and liberal minded Perlis Mufti is living it.
Critiques questions equating Islam and Hadhari. Islam means submission and the doctrine of faith leaves little to no room for interpretation. The issue of semantics arises in equating Islam Hadhari as progressive Islam. Is that right to claim opponents to Islam Hadhari as regressive Islam?Upon acceptance to the doctrine of faith and devoutly carryout obligations as per the five pillars of faith, one is a Muslim. There is no such thing as a progressive, moderate or extreme Islam and middle grounds. As Tun Dr Mahathir pointed out recently, Islam Hadhari is confusing.
Islam Hadhari and CDI's Moderate Islam
Commentators viewed CDI as written based on a stereotype and bigoted view of Islam that would not serve its claimed purpose to ease the tension and allow for better interaction between the West and the Islamic world. In fact, it is perpetuating the blame game on Islam that dates back to 19th - 20th Century European Orientalism.
The study falls into a typical western mistake of analysing Islam from a Western perspective - demanding conformity to contemporary global culture and lifestyle, and painting Muslims as despots, terrorists, and fanatic suicide bombers.Through the Western eyes, the ideal Islamic community should conform to their expectation of being democratic, economically viable, politically stable, and socially progressive and kow-tow to the rules and norms of international conduct. More comment from Google on CDI here .
Many quarters view Islam Hadhari to fit the description of moderate Islam in CDI with several western ideals planted in Islam Hadhari. Two that stands out is the 7th and 9th principal. It is not much the justification to the principal but the stress for a lesser importance issue to equate with Islam.
The 7th principal on minority and women seemed to win favour in our multiracial population and to accommodate the increasingly stressed issues on women rights by the western NGOs. The 9th principal on environment seemed to appease the western environmentalist pressure group. Not realising, it is an additional barriers to check economic competition from developing countries.
Shallow and devoid of specific program, Abdullah received his much needed attention to speak on Islam Hadhari at the recent World Economic Congress in Davos. There were many more prior to this, particularly in Muslim countries.It would not be a surprise that the Dubya Bush Administration is monitoring the acceptance and progress of Islam Hadhari as a test case of a modern version of an accommodative Islam acceptably "progressive, liberal, democratic and civil" to the West. Only in Malaysia, with a Muslim majority and reasonable level of standard of living and education, can it be done.
When Tun Dr Mahathir gave a news headline "No such thing as a moderate Muslim" and plead to stop seeking acknowledgement as moderate and liberal Islam, he is far sighted enough to see the geo-global implication. Does Abdullah realised this big gameplan or is he in his ever state of zouk or insulated?One God, One Message and ...
UntukMu... untukMu... untukMU
March 5th, 2007 5:00 p.m.