Speak up and be heard: Hishamuddin

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Yesterday, Malaysia’s Education Minister, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, who is also the Umno Youth Leader, called on ‘the moderate voice of Islam representing the vast majority of Muslims worldwide’ to speak up and be counted in the effort to give a true picture of a progressive and peaceful Islam.

Hishammuddin added it was time that moderate, peaceful and progressive Islam spoke up and not let the world hear only the views of the extremists.

“In an environment ruled by polarised and extreme views, it is high time that the world at large hear from moderate and peaceful Muslim voices,” he said in a keynote address at the International Conference of Islamic Scholars in Jakarta themed “Islam and Civil Society: The Path to Transformation”.

Muslims in Malaysia, said Hishamuddin, were a small majority of just over 60 per cent of its population, living and working in harmony side by side with very visible and vibrant non-Muslim communities.

“As far back as you trace our way of being Muslim, Malay or Malaysian, we have lived and worked and traded with peoples of many lands, the entire communities of whom have also made Malaysia their home. Our time and place have always been shared with others,” said Hishammuddin.

He said Islam in Malaysia was pragmatic, open and, by its very nature, progressive even though to those who like their world in monochrome, Muslims in Malaysia were not pure enough in their religious expression.

“We as Muslims in Malaysia are proud of our record of having fostered a peaceful and progressive multi-religious society in a modern world in which such examples are all too rare,” he said.

Hishammuddin said all that worked for a unity among Malaysians that was also open to the world to draw on, a practice of Islam which was at peace with itself and with the world; a practice of Islam which valued the substance and not the form and pursued balanced and comprehensive development as jihad.

He added that issues such as governance and the fight against corruption, rural development and the improvement of healthcare were tackled with the best means available and in collaboration with non-Muslim partners.

Do you believe this? If you do, then you probably also believe that pigs can fly. Malaysia is definitely a country of many faces. It puts on one face for one community and a different one for another. In short, Malaysia is a bullshit country, never practices what it preaches or, as the Malays are fond of saying, bikin tak serupa cakap. Islam has a word for this: munafik, which means hypocrite. And Islam brands hypocrites as the greatest enemy of Islam.

First of all, since when does Malaysia allow its citizens to ‘speak up and be heard’? Malaysia has many laws that stifle freedom of expression in any form. Gatherings require a police permit, publications require a permit, printing presses require a permit, students, by law, are not allowed to associate with politics. If you were to speak out you could get arrested and charged under the Sedition Act or Official Secrets Act. As what one-time Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir used to repeat, Malaysia has a law called the Internal Security Act that is used to detain anyone who may even be thinking of committing a crime though no crime may have been committed yet. It is, as Dr Mahathir explained, a preventive law. So, in Malaysia, even thinking without speaking is a crime.

Hishamuddin is the person least qualified to talk about Islam, not that any of the so-called religious leaders are any better qualified to do so. What does Hishamuddin mean by ‘progressive and peaceful Islam’? And what does he mean by ‘extremist’ Islam?

Many Muslims view apostasy as a crime and feel that apostates should be put to death if they insist on leaving Islam. Is this Hishamuddin’s view as well? If so, would this not make Hishamuddin an extremist? On the other hand, if Hishamuddin is propagating ‘moderate’ Islam, should people then be allowed the freedom to choose their own religion, Muslims included? If this is Hishamuddin’s ‘moderate’ view; that Muslims should be allowed to choose their own religion; would Hishamuddin then be complying to what Islam decrees or would he in fact be violating Islam?

This Hishamuddin needs to explain before we can judge him a ‘moderate’ or ‘extremist’ Muslim. And he must explain this as this is a bone of contention in Malaysia.

Islam does not allow nationalism or racialism; it is haram. Malaysia practices Ketuanan Melayu or Malay Supremacy. What is Hishamuddin’s stand on Ketuanan Melayu. Does he support it? In that case is Hishamuddin not violating Islamic teachings? Would this then not make Hishamuddin an extremist rather than a moderate? In fact, this would make him more extreme than the extremist Muslim whom he is condemning, because ‘extremist’ Muslims frown upon racialism.

Then, Hishamuddin says that Islam is a religion of peace. If so, then should not Islam be asking us to love fellow men and that all mankind is God’s creation? Is it right therefore for our religious teachers to brand non-Muslims, the Jews, Israel, the West, and so on, as enemies of Islam? You only find enemies in a war and how can we have enemies if we are not at war but at peace with non-Muslims? Since we are told non-Muslims are our enemies then we cannot be at peace with them can we?

What is Hishamuddin’s stand on this and his stand must be explained for this matter is creating much confusion amongst Muslims.

On Hishamuddin’s point about fighting against corruption: do I really need to reply to this? It is like a prostitute trying to plead that she is still a virgin. Please! Hishamuddin is insulting our intelligence. I don’t think I should extend him the dignity by rebutting this.

The same goes with regards to his statement about working for the unity of all Malaysians. As long as Malaysia practices the policy of preferential treatment for brown skins and second class citizenship for yellow or black skins there can never be unity. How can a Chinese or Indian feel united with the Malays when they know they are relegated to the back seat just because of the colour of their skin? Some non-Malays are 20th or 30th generation Malaysians whose ancestors came to this country in the 1400s or 1500s, yet a person like Dr Mahathir whose father was born in India is not only considered Malay but can even become the Prime Minister as well.

Was Hishamuddin talking about Malaysia or, since he was in Jakarta when he made this speech, was he so confused he thought he was referring to Indonesia? Hishamuddin needs to get a better speech writer and also take a look at Malaysia again and tell us what he really sees and does he truly believe his own speech?