The self proclaimed moderates – Yusri Jamaluddin

The clash between liberal and Islamist ideologies is imminent in Malaysia. The liberals who call themselves moderates are on a sudden attacking spree, each one amplifying the voice of the other. Their voices seem loud while their membership are low in numbers and they constantly manipulate public perception through duplication of organizations with the same inherent agenda and political interests.

After losing in parliamentary elections, they seek to ‘reclaim the nation’ with a barrage of campaigns under the umbrella of ‘civil’ society institutions. In reality, their numbers are nothing compared to the silent majority. Unfortunately, it is self-explanatory that the problem with the majority is that they are living in a cave of wealth and comfort, refusing to voice out and tell the world that our country is just fine without secular and liberal ideologies.

The Malaysian public is now in a confused state; who should they trust? The ‘moderates’ who keep on painting a gruesome and bloody picture of a Malaysia ruled by militant extremists, or the Islamist who constantly reminds to stay true to the nation’s identity in order to maintain peace and stability, while stern in warning to those who fail to do so.

ISMA has long warned of the existence of a group of people trying to secularize Malaysia. At the same time, ISMA calls for Malaysians to stay away from extremist militant groups. Many had failed to heed the warnings of secularism and they wait until the day comes when they actually lose the religious identity that Malaysia has inherited for many decades.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that Malaysia is not a secular state and should never be treated as one. It is a myth that a secular state will ever recognize a religion to be the religion of the federation. After all, the principle concept of a secular state is that it separates religion from the affairs of the state. The fact that the constitution mentions liberty does not make it any more liberal either.

In light of recent events, we must stay true in asking ourselves a simple question; should a country mold itself to suit the different desires and inclinations of minority individuals, or should the people adapt to the national identity of this country which stands on top of the pillars of Islam as the religion of the Federation, Bahasa Melayu as the national language, the rights and privileges of the Malays and Bumiputra, the position of the Monarchs as well as the citizenship of other races according to the social contract?

On that note, it is important that we understand that in a diverse country like Malaysia, compromises need to be taken. It is impossible to satisfy the different inclinations of the people without any compromises. While the constitution allows the freedom of other religion to be professed, it protects the position of Islam as the religion of the federation; drawing a red line that can only be crossed by those who wish to challenge the constitution. One does not expect to maintain peace and harmony if some groups deliberately go beyond these red lines.

This is the type of compromises that have been overlooked by so many people for so long; and accusing those who stay true to these red lines as being extremists. How would one expect to react when time after time, politicians such as Tony Pua keeps on giving cynical comments on fatwas in which has nothing to do with him? To Tony Pua, I say, ‘enough is enough!’ We will never obtain peace and harmony if we go on keeping a blind eye on individuals like him when we are so busy trying to find and magnify faults in religious institutions.

Moderates really need to define who they really are and who they claim to be. Their extensive (and not to mention, well-funded) media campaign to promote moderation is nothing but confusing and a propaganda to promote their own liberal agendas. One might ask an interesting question; what is the difference between a moderate and a liberal? Truly, if we look at self-proclaimed moderates, they are nothing but a liberalized group of Muslims; taking some parts of Islam while rejecting others that do not suit their liberal tendencies. They fail to understand that Islam is a holistic system and is not limited to prayers and Friday sermons.

As liberal forces take center stage in online news sites, Muslim intellectuals are busy with their theses and research papers, the silent majority are contented and happily enjoying the comforts of their middle class lives, and some of the so called Islamists NGOs are busy with dialogues that end with no solid conclusion and action other than to ‘agree to disagree’.

Moving forward, I call on Malaysians to be more proactive and optimistic about our blessed country. While minority groups are sparking up flame here and there, there is much work that needs to be done regardless of their noise. Religious institutions need to be strengthened and management problems that exist in these agencies need to be solved. Muslim NGOs need to portray a complete version of Islam to the public; educating them based on the disciplines and traditions of Islamic knowledge.

Islamist organizations and political parties need to work together and focus on intra-faith engagements in muzakarah and symposiums to give a clear and consistent message of what political Islam really is and how it would solve Malaysia’s problems at large. The public is in a state of disarray and is in dire need of guidance from those with knowledge and understanding of Islam. Muslim intellectuals and thought leaders need to get out of their comfort and engage with the public.

The silent majority needs to step up and take a stand against liberal ideologies that threatens to secularize our beloved country that we have lived in prosperously for many decades before under the umbrella of Islam as the religion of the federation.

May Allah bless Malaysia with his rahmah and guidance.

Yusri Jamaluddin
MSc Business Analytics
New York
ISMA Activist



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