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DUMB DOWN for Islam - Is that what Pak Lah's IKIM is suggesting?

Written by  Joe Fernandez, Malaysia Chronicle 
The Institute of Islamic Understanding (Ikim), chaired by former premier Abdullah Badawi, recently came out with a strong statement warning Muslims against pluralism and liberalism on the grounds that such trends would "confuse them and undermine their faith". (scroll below for the Bernama report)

In short, the truth or otherwise  if there's any such thing isn't the crux of the debate, but to invoke "God" and keep society on a tight leash to ensure some sort of mindless social order for self-serving political reasons.

Ikim sees no reason to support the Education Ministry's inculcation of critical, creative and thinking skills to nature generations of Malaysians for science and technology.

The Muslims are being persuaded against embracing any form of thinking which will propel them into a community wedded to innovation, creativity and inventiveness. Stupidity becomes a virtue to be franchised. Muslim women have to don the purdah and confine themselves as isteri solehah -- the ideal wife -- to catering to their husband's sexual needs at any time of the day or night. The man, if an ideal Muslim in life and death, will be rewarded in the racist and prejudiced hereafter with 77 fair virgins, wine -- the halal version no doubt -- and song. Apparently, dusky virgins won't get to heaven.

Pluralism is defined as the acceptance of a multiplicity of viewpoints, but not necessarily agreeing with any of them. Liberalism means getting away, as far away as possible, from religion or what Mao Zedong referred to as "the opium of the masses".

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it
It was Spanish-born American philosopher, poet and humanist George Santayana (1863 to 1952) who first observed that "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

It's now the turn of the Muslims of the 21st century to forget the lessons of history after the Confucianists, Hindus, the Islamists, Nazis, colonialists, apartheidists and European communists, all in turn, bit the dust, in their quest for artificial stability. One cynic, in an email making the rounds, dismissed Islamic fundamentalists as pre-occupied with only two issues as the be all and end all of life: "examining dicks and peering under women's skirts to ferret out the sinners."

Ikim's warning, for starters, reminds us of the fateful decision that Chinese Emperors once made on their Empire's place and role in the world. The Middle Kingdom, it was erroneously thought, was the centre of the world, had everything it needed, and had no need for the rest of the world. They were all barbarians out there, it was held. China, the Emperors decided, would turn its back on the rest of the world. Admiral Cheng Ho, a Muslim, and all the other Admirals were recalled. They were forbidden to sail the high seas again on voyages of discovery, adventure and mission. Their ships and boats were burnt and sunk and Christopher Columbus, instead of Cheng Ho, went on to discover America for Europe.

The tragedy of China in the past holds lessons for all
China realized the folly of her past ways -- rooting for an unthinking observance of Confucianism for the sake of an enforced and artificial stability for social order -- when she found that she couldn't stand up to the small European powers which came knocking on her doors and demanded territory for trading posts. Among others, tiny Portugal with a population of one million got Macau while England with a population of ten million was given all the Isles of Hong Kong and the New Territories on the Chinese mainland.

China's humiliation was complete until Mao’s Long March of 1949 to seize China by force -- "power comes through the barrel of a gun" -- and bring all of an ancient civilization under the rule of the Communist Party with renewed emphasis on a stability which had not worked in the past. To sweeten the bitter taste in the mouth, the communists promised an "iron rice bowl" to the people of China and embarked on forcible collectivization and on the disastrous Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution "to let a thousand flowers bloom". The Communist Party was failing China on the brink of famine until the revisionist Deng Xiaoping preached the four modernizations  -- agriculture, industry, science and technology, and national defence --  with a stark warning: "It doesn't matter whether a cat is black or white as long as it can catch mice."

Even so, China's communist rulers are yet to full comprehend the lessons from their country's history.
The obsession with an artificial stability remains as witnessed in Beijing's unwillingness to free the renminbi. China continues to lose her hard-won wealth as the Americans borrow even more to pay back in US dollars for conversion into cheaper Yuan.

Islamists deaf, dumb and blind to China’s obsession with artificial stability
The Islamists, in rejecting pluralism and liberalism, appear to be deaf, dumb and blind to the failure of the obsession with artificial stability in China.

The obsession with artificial stability for a social order drove the priestly class in ancient India, the Brahmins, to invoke the God's to declare the Law of Karma, the Theory of Reincarnation and the Caste System to enforce a rigid division of labour without the relief of upward social mobility. The priestly class, at the top of the dung heap of humanity, remained India's only scholars and intellectuals.

India's humiliation was complete in the degradation of the outcasts (pariahs) who were condemned for centuries to only one occupation viz. the removal of night soil (human faeces) often with nothing more than their bare hands. The diabolical Brahmins told them that they were being punished in this life for having led a sinful previous life but could merit moksha, release from the eternal samsara (suffering) of the cycle of birth, life and death, if they like the other outcastes and castes, meekly accepted their lot in life. Nirvana, heaven, awaits them.

India had her artificial stability for social order, at the expense of the downtrodden masses, and as a result was too weak to resist the Mughals who came pouring in from Central Asia to rule the subcontinent for 700 years until the colonial British drove them into exile in Myanmar. Indians, in their downtrodden misery, saw no reason to resist the British just as they earlier resigned themselves to Mughal rule until Mahatma Gandhi preached the virtues of cleaning one's own toilet.

Umno seeking artificial stability under caste system of sorts
It would be kinder not to repeat the fate of the other seekers of artificial stability.
This brings us back to Ikim which is clearly toeing Umno's political line as well at the same time.
Umno, in the past 55 years, has enforced an artificial stability of sorts along the lines of India's notorious caste system and Nazism.

The administrative laws in place, inspired by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, reserve the opportunities created by non-Muslims, the minorities, solely for Umno members.

In addition, any new opportunities created by non-Muslims – 45 per cent of the population but divided by economics, ethnicity, language and religion -- are allowed if only led by Umno members.

This is the social order which Umno is fighting tooth-and-nail to preserve. So, there's no place for pluralism and liberalism, as desperately being opposed by Ikim.

Malaysia Chronicle
The Dangers Of Pluralism And Liberalism In The Muslim Society

05/12/2012 |
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 (Bernama) -- "Pluralism is an ideology or a school of thought that acknowledges diversity in all spheres of life, with each variation recognised being equal in its verity and validity."
Md Asham Ahmad, a Senior Fellow at the Syariah, Law and Politics Studies Centre (SYARAK) of the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM) said this to the writer in expounding pluralism.

"According to this ideology, every viewpoint is important and all the viewpoints should be accepted, for a society to be peaceful," he said in an interview with Bernama at IKIM recently.

He stated that pluralism originated in Europe, and it was the outcome of the conflict between the Protestant and Catholic doctrines during the Medieval period.

The conflict lasted for 100 years and religious freedom was not tolerated in Europe. In fact, people who practised heresy were considered to be severely repressed.

The outcome was a reformation, and that is how another secular ideology, liberalism, emerged. Liberalism offers morality, political and spiritual freedom - seen as the source of the problem in the earlier period.
The followers of this school of thought came to realise that religion is the source of endless conflicts.

"The easiest way to deal with it is to accept all the views of the people, to satisfy all the parties," explained Md Asham.

He added that the advocates of liberalism and pluralism believed that a man would be able to lead a happier life if he was not bound by religion.

"For this group of people, one of the ways to move ahead in life is by distancing themselves from religion. They believed that with time, religion will be denounced.

"A liberal believes that religion does not allow a man to move forward in life. A liberal feels that religion shuts a man's mind and makes him outdated," he said.

According to Md Asham, in the eyes of a liberal, religion is a stumbling block in the pursuit of freedom and modernisation.

Unlike the Europeans who came up with pluralism and liberalism, Md Asham went on to explain that Muslims do not share the same history as the Europeans, in the religious sphere.

If the proponents of pluralism and liberalism felt that religion was an obstacle in the pursuit of freedom, the Muslims viewed Islam as a force that rescued them.

Therefore, according to Md Asham, the notion of 'liberalising Islam', and Muslims trying to escape from Islam does not arise.

"What we have to do is to free mankind from the confusion that lingers in their minds. There is a big difference between what Islam preaches and what is being practised in the West. Therefore, there is no point trying to see the similarities between their problem and our problem.

"They have problems with their religion, while we don't have a problem with our religion.

"If we don't realise that there are fundamental differences in our histories, we may have the wrong notion that their problem is our problem and that their solution is our solution," explained Md Asham.

Today, information is transmitted quickly because of a borderless world created by information and communications technology (ICT). Information reaches every corner of the world in seconds through websites, blogs and social media sites.

According to Md Asham, the borderless world created by ICT has made people aware of conflicting views, in turn creating confusion in their minds.

Therefore, it is not surprising when people succumb to these ideologies, especially those who have been educated in the West.

"People who have recently come into contact with these ideas, get excited thinking about the freedom such ideologies promise.

"They actually have no idea as to what are they are looking for. What kind of freedom do they want and for what purpose?

"Were we subjugated all this while?" he asked.

Freedom, in the Western context, is all about discarding the old mindset.
Md Asham pointed out that freedom promoted by the West has no limit.
They begin with religious freedom and discard religion completely.

"When religion is sidelined, there is no basis for moral and human virtues. Anything is possible now.
"For example, the institution of marriage is based on religion but when there is no religion, people can live under the same roof without getting married to one another.

"And for those who want to get married, they have the freedom to choose their life partners. They can marry people of the same sex, or they can marry people from any religion as there is nothing to stop them," said Md Asham.

This is all because of what they understand as freedom guised under basic human rights.

Today, Muslims in Malaysia are constantly being tested by pluralism and liberalism.
According to Md Asham, we should learn from what the West is experiencing at the moment.
"If we follow their footsteps, we will have the same fate as what they are experiencing now.

"Ultimately, we will witness the destruction of civilisations, families and communities," he stressed.
"Of late, we have been witnessing moral decadence in the society, that not only encompasses the younger generation but also the senior citizens," he said.

Md Asham said that a society will collapse if religion is discarded.

"Life and death are guided by spiritual guidance - the Al Quran and the teachings of the Prophet," he said.

Before people become extremely confused, Md Asham believes that systematic steps have to be taken to tackle the issue of pluralism and liberalism, especially within the Muslim community.

Confusion can be eliminated through education.

Muslims should not forget their obligations and their religion.

Fardu Ain, which is taught in schools, is not sufficient as the subject requires deeper understanding.
Fardu Ain should be taught to students in universities too because ideas concerning freedom, human rights, philosophy and pluralism are taught in universities.

"Since these ideas are inculcated subtly into the minds of the students, they fail to understand that they are going against their faith and the Islamic way of life.


Press Statement Institute Of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM) on Religious Pluralism

15/12/2010 |

The Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM) wishes to clarify that: 
Firstly, Islam rejects religious pluralism which claims that all religions are equally true and equally good.
Secondly, only one religion possesses the perfect and complete revelation, that is, Islam (see the Qur'an, Al-Maidah, 5:3).

Thirdly, Islam nevertheless recognises that truths, goodness and ethical beauty do exist in the other religions. While Islam forbids the practice of making religion a mockery and a plaything, it continuously welcomes fair, just and honest attitude as well as integrity, wherever they may have originated. Such ethical goodness and beauty should be synergised to thrust Malaysian society towards prosperity and harmony.
Fourthly, national unity should be nurtured by encouraging the uniqueness of each religious tradition and simultaneously encouraging the attitude of mutual goodwill, mutual empathy and mutual love as fellow neighbours and fellow human beings who originate from one living entity despite their religious differences.
Fifthly, issues amongst different religious followers have to be resolved with the utmost justice, fairness and with the spirit of mutual respect towards religious fundamentals.

Sixthly, followers of different religions should also be encouraged to compete in the undertakings of good deeds, for example, in upholding the rights of the poor and the needy, enjoining good deeds and forbidding evil deeds, whether towards the common citizens or leaders, through proper, cultured, honest and sincere means.

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