Malaysia – an Islamic Country?

Despite what our founding fathers had intended it to be and what the Federal Constitution has expressly stated, Mahathir Mohammad unequivocally pronounced that Malaysia is an “Islamic country”. It did not stop there.

The current government fully endorsed that. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of course agreed with what Mahathir had said. Najib, I suppose, would also say the same thing if he becomes the Prime Minister come March this year. Down the line, Zahid Hamidi insisted as such. Syed Hamid Albar, our Home Minister would even go and detain people without trial for “insulting” Islam. Khir Toyo, now ensconced in Oppositionsville, would kick up a ruckus if anything is said about “azan” in loudspeakers, even when the mosques officials deny that anybody had raised the issue. Well, in fact everybody in UMNO, either by acquiescence or active agreement, say that Malaysia is an Islamic country. On the other side of the fence, we of course have people like Zulkifli Nordin, who insists that it is his “fate” to defend Islam and consequently to impose his brand of Islam on everybody. As for PAS, well, let’s not even start talking about them.

The question then is, if Malaysia is an Islamic country, why in heaven don’t we practice true Islamic traditions? Put it another way, which part of Malaysia, as a country, is Islamic and which part is not? Or is it a fact that these politicians would offer such pronouncement if, and only if, they find that it is kosher for them to do so? And in the event kosherness dictates that it be pronounced that Malaysia is not an Islamic country, they would of course turn around and say Malaysia is not an Islamic country. Is that the case?

In Islamic history, the reign of the Abbasid Caliphate is generally and widely romanticised as the golden age of Islam. It was during the reign of the Abbasid that the Greek philosophical works were translated into Arabic, commissioned by none other than the Caliph himself. Cities were built with elegant and graceful architecture. Histories were revisited and written. Poems were composed and songs were sung at the Court before everyone would wine and dine into the night. Muslims, Christinans, Jews and even Zoroastrians would be invited to the Court where they would sit beside each other and partake in intellectual discourses and debates with none other than the Caliph himself.