Bikin tak serupa cakap (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)


Have the authorities offered any statistics? The Mufti of Perak says that 100,000 Muslims have left Islam. The government says this is not so — it is less than 1,000. And even then most of those who left Islam were not those born as Muslims but those who converted to Islam for reasons such as marriage and then left Islam after the marriage broke up and ended in divorce.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The Malays have a saying: bikin tak serupa cakap, cakap tak serupa bikin. Translated into English this could probably mean: not meaning what you say, not saying what you mean.

Islam teaches us that there are two types of obligations, which a Muslim must fulfil. One is compulsory upon us individually and the other is compulsory upon the entire community. This is called fardu ain and fardu kifayah respectively. If, however, the obligation that is compulsory upon the community (fardu kifayah) is not fulfilled by any member of the community, it then becomes compulsory upon all of us, individually, (transforms into fardu ain), until such a time that at least one person in the community fulfils it.

My Tok Guru, Abdul Rahman Pattani, whom I learned religion from for about two decades when I was living in Kuala Terengganu, used this example to explain fardu kifayah. (Tok Guru Abdul Rahman was one of the Pattani liberation movement leaders wanted by the Thai government and who was living in Terengganu under political asylum).

If there are no Muslim-owned bread shops in town and if Muslims are forced to buy their bread from non-Muslim shops, then all Muslims in the community share the sin. But if at least one Muslim sets up a bread shop then the entire community is absolved of sin.

In other words, if no one does it then the entire community would have sinned but if at least one person does it then the community is ‘saved’.

It is ironical that Tok Guru Abdul Rahman used the bread shop analogy to explain the issue. Kuala Terengganu, the capital of Terengganu Darul Iman (‘Darul Iman’ can translate into ‘the land of religious faith’), had one Malay (meaning Muslim) bread shop and a number of Chinese (meaning non-Muslim) bread shops. The most popular bread shop was in Pulau Kambing while the only Malay bread shop in Jalan Kamaruddin was next door to a Chinese bread shop.

Most Malays, however, bought their bread from the Chinese bread shops. They said the bread tastes nicer than that baked by the Malay chap. Eventually the Malay bread shop went bankrupt and closed down due to lack of business. In short, the Malays of Kuala Terengganu the land of religious faith (meaning Muslims) ‘supported’ the non-Muslim bread shops and not the solitary shop of their Muslim brethren.

Where was the spirit of Muslim brotherhood? Where was the obligation of fardu kifayah? The Muslims would rather buy ‘better-tasting’ bread from the non-Muslim Chinese than ensure that at least one Muslim bread shop stays in business in the spirit of Muslim brotherhood and fardu kifayah.

I have learned in all those years of living in a predominantly Muslim community like Kuala Terengganu that most Malays are all talk and no action. They scream, rant and rave about ‘protecting’ Islam but when it come to fulfilling the obligations of Islam they would be the last one to do so and would offer all sorts of excuses why they do not do so — like the bread made by the Chinese tastes nicer.

I am not saying that Muslims should boycott Chinese bread shops and buy their bread from only Muslim-owned shops. In fact, I too used to buy my bread from the Chinese shop in Pulau Kambing, which undeniably does taste nicer. But I do not scream, rant and rave about ‘protecting Islam’ — so I can be excused for preferring the bread from the Chinese shop to that from the Malay shop. At least I would not bikin tak serupa cakap.

What is the issue about the Christians using the word Allah in the Bahasa Indonesia version of the Bible? The main issue is that the word Allah ‘belongs’ to the Muslims. This of course can be debated as we have proven that the Allah word was used by the Jews, Christians and Pagans in Mekah long before the coming of Islam.

Nevertheless, Malays are not prepared to accept this argument and they counter it by saying that Allah in the days before Prophet Muhammad meant something else compared to Allah after the revelation of the Quran. So the Allah of today is not the same Allah of pre-Islamic days.

That is not true of course and no evidence has ever been offered to support this argument. And the fact that the non-Muslims of Arab descent still use the word Allah until today demolishes that argument.

Anyway, let’s move on to the next reason. Malays are worried that if the Christians use the word Allah in the Bible then the Muslims might get confused. And this confusion may lead to Muslims leaving Islam to become Christians.

Is this an assumption or is it based on actual case studies? How many Muslims of Malay descent have become apostates due to the confusion of the word Allah in the Bible? And how many Malays became Christians after reading the Bahasa Indonesia version of the Bible with the word Allah in it? Statistics tell us that more non-Muslims convert to Islam than those leaving Islam.

Malays appear to have no confidence in their fellow Muslims. Malays also believe that most Muslims have very little iman (religious faith) and all it takes is one word in the Bible for Muslims to leave Islam in droves to become Christians. Are the Malays that ignorant and have that little faith in their own religion that it does not take much for them to abandon Islam?

In the old days, Christians would rather be burned alive or fed to the lions than abandon their faith. It takes more than just one word for the Christians to leave Christianity. Jews died in the millions rather than become a non-Jew. But the Malays are telling us that all it takes is one word for the Muslims to turn their back on Islam.

I think this is an insult to Islam. It shows that the Muslims have hardly any faith in Islam. We are not talking about beheading or burned alive or being fed to the lions. We are talking about just one word and Muslims will become extremely confused and abandon Islam in great numbers.

Have the authorities offered any statistics? The Mufti of Perak says that 100,000 Muslims have left Islam. The government says this is not so — it is less than 1,000. And even then most of those who left Islam were not those born as Muslims but those who converted to Islam for reasons such as marriage and then left Islam after the marriage broke up and ended in divorce.

So what is the truth here? Is it really about preventing Malays from becoming confused resulting in them leaving Islam? Or is it something else altogether?

Let us go back to fardu kifayah and fardu ain. Fardu kifayah transforms into fardu ain if the community fails in its duties. And one such fardu (obligation) is amar maaruf, nahi munkar (which could mean ‘to uphold the truth and oppose evil’). It is an obligation of all Muslims. All Muslims must perform this as if it is one of their daily rituals. But do the Malays do this?

Look at the picture below. That is the picture of the home of the previous Menteri Besar of Selangor. Clearly what the home costs way exceeds his income. So where did the money come from?

How many of those very disturbed Selangor Malays who are outraged that the Bible wants to use the word Allah have performed their fardu of amar maaruf, nahi munkar? Have they demonstrated outside the mosques after Friday prayers to oppose this kemunkaran? Corruption is considered most foul in Islam. The renowned Sheikh Imran Hoesin (another whom I learned religion from) classifies it as riba’ and equates it to the sin of sexual intercourse with one’s own parent. But are the Malays outraged?

I have no problems with those sincere Muslims who act in the interest of Islam and wish only to defend their faith. But these are not acts of people who have Islam’s interest at heart or wish to defend their faith.

It is like what my Tok Guru Abdul Rahman used to say: Muslims go to war and kill each other over an argument about whether the white skull cap on the head is compulsory or not — whereas it is not and is in fact forbidden (haram) when you perform your pilgrimage (haj). But Muslims would remain silent and ‘turn the other way’ when confronted with kemungkaran (evil).

That is what my Tok Guru Abdul Rahman Pattani, one of the renowned leaders of the Pattani liberation movement, taught me. And I trust my Tok Guru who the Terengganu State Government employed as a lecturer in the Kolej Ugama Sultan Zainal Abidin (KUSZA) because of his impeccable credentials.

No, I am not espousing ‘Orientalist’ teachings as many accuse me of doing. I am in fact quite a fundamentalist. Unfortunately, fundamentalist is now a dirty word and most people have an impression that this means terrorism and extremism. Actually, fundamentalist merely means you follow the fundamentals of Islam. And the fundamentals of Islam is you uphold the truth and oppose evil instead of going to war over a white skull cap which is not compulsory and actually forbidden under certain circumstances. 

Translated into Chinese at: