Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Blindly accept Islam Hadhari?

Our dearest Prime Minister was quoted as telling the Malaysians to just accept the concept of Islam Hadhari. His claims that, because even foreigners are interested in the concept, it must be a Good Thing and we Malaysians should just accept it without question. Quoting the original article:

"Accept it as a new approach towards the development of Islam and that of the country. I have spoken about the concept in many countries and all have received the concept well. But here (in Malaysia) the Muslims are questioning it without knowing its actual meaning and objective."
Our PM has been very busy promoting this concept of Islamic government. He even claimed that foreign countries such as Russia and New Zealand have invited him over to speak on the topic. They've probably asked him to go speak on it since they do not understand it either. If the Malaysian Muslims themselves are confused, I cannot really blame the foreigners for being confused as well.

However, what exactly is Islam Hadhari? As a non-Muslim Malaysian, I am interested to find out. I've heard this term being increasingly used to describe a new philosophy of governance. I personally think that politics and religion should never mix. Although I am not an expert in Islam, it is still important that I understand it. So, I looked up what it meant in Wikipedia. Seems like this concept is a local Malaysian invention. From the wiki article:
"Islam Hadhari (Arabic الإسلام الحضاري) or "Civilizational Islam" is a theory of government based on the principles of Islam as derived from the Qur'an. It was originally founded by Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1957 (but under a different name), and is now being promoted by the current Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi."
It's no wonder that the people are confused. The Malaysian Muslims themselves do not understand what it means because it's his pet theory. Imagine how the non-Muslims like me would feel. We would be so doubly confused. Since it's his own little theory, it makes sense for people to ask questions about it. We just don't really know what he actually means when he spouts those two words. According to wiki, there are 10 principles:
  1. Faith and piety in Allah
  2. Just and trustworthy government
  3. Freedom and independence to the people
  4. Mastery of knowledge
  5. Balanced and comprehensive economic development
  6. Good quality of life for all
  7. Protection of the rights of minority groups and women
  8. Cultural and moral integrity
  9. Protection of the environment
  10. A strong defence policy
Instead of asking the rakyat to just accept the concept, he should actively encourage them to ask questions. As a scientist, I understand the value of peer review and independent verification of any new theory. Since it's his own little theory, he needs to preach it so that everyone can fully understand what he means and there are no ambiguous interpretations later. Personally, I don't have a gripe with any of the concepts except #1 as God has no place in human politics.

On whether or not any of it is actually anything new and noteworthy, I'll leave it as an exercise to you. The wiki article contains several criticisms of the concept as well. However, I would be very interested to know how principle #1 would affect religious atheists like me. Would I be further discriminated against, by my own government, for my own personal religious believes? Will this further erode Article 11 of our Constitution? Unfortunately, I get the feeling that our dearest PM doesn't want to answer any of my questions.

Dalam sistem demokrasi, memang menjadi hak rakyat untuk menyoal setiap polisi kerajaan. Tiada salahnya kita semua menyoal. Hanya orang bersalah sahaja, yang takut untuk disoal.

PS: It seems like the official websites "" and "" are down at the moment.

No comments: