In the Nama of ALLAH, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful…
insyaALLAH, here I want to share an articel for us to think thoroughly….May HIS guidance will always be with us…insyaALLAH….:smile:
MUSLIMS FIRST, MALAYSIANS SECOND
By Carolyn Hong
The Straits Times
MUSLIMS first, Malaysians second and Malays third – this is how most Malaysian Muslims see themselves, says a survey by the University of Malaya.
The survey found that Islam has become the most important identity marker for Muslims, who are largely Malay, and revealed a growing orthodoxy in their beliefs.
These are not surprising findings, as Malaysians already see the evidence around them – for example, the increasing use of Islamic dress and growing moral conservativeness.
But the survey conducted by Associate Professor Patricia Martinez of the Asia-Europe Institute also turned up other more unexpected findings.
It showed that Muslims are far more open and accepting of other cultures than they are made out to be, especially in the current debate on Islam in Malaysia.
The debate, which has become increasingly tense, is frequently couched in the language of ‘us versus them’ and has taken an intolerant bent.
The National Fatwa Committee, for instance, recently criticised the open house tradition as eroding the faith of Muslims who attend the festivities of other cultures.
Dr Martinez, a scholar of Islam, believes that the tone of the debate may not reflect how ordinary Muslims really feel.
‘When I was doing fieldwork, I met many ordinary Muslims and had a growing conviction that our highly polemical discourse on Islam is not always reflective of how the majority of the people feel,’ she told The Straits Times.
Thus, the survey was born. It polled 1,000 randomly selected Muslims nationwide last December, with respondents selected on the basis on the proportions of Muslim populations by state and gender, as indicated in the latest census.
The findings, released recently, provide perhaps the most objective picture of Muslims in Malaysia.
It confirms that their very strong sense of their identity as Muslims, with more than 70 per cent identifying themselves first as Muslim, followed by Malaysian, then Malay.
An overwhelming 97 per cent believe that Muslims should not be allowed to leave Islam.
The survey also shows what Dr Martinez describes as a growing orthodoxy, with 77 per cent wanting stricter syariah laws and 44 per cent saying the state has the right to punish immoral behaviour.
More than half wanted the Islamic penal code (hudud), which carries punishments such as amputation of limbs, to be implemented.
This may not bode well for a more progressive Islam but, on the other hand, the majority wanted Islamic law to remain under the Constitution rather than to replace it.
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This last finding tallies with the results that showed that Muslims find it acceptable to live alongside non-Muslims.
More than 97 per cent said it was acceptable, while almost 80 per cent said Muslims should learn about other religions. Even more said Muslims can participate in inter-faith dialogues.
‘This shows that Muslims have come to terms with the reality of a multi-religious Malaysia. We may not eat together at the same table, but it does not mean that we hate each other,’ Dr Martinez said.
She acknowledged that polarisation is a problem, but ‘there is a big difference between polarisation and not being able to live with each other’.
The heightened sense of a religious identity, she said, could be partly due to the dominance of Islam in public discourse.
It was also possible that Islam has become the defining element of Malay identity after non-Muslim Malaysians adopted many aspects of Malay culture, from food to dress to language.
Other reasons could be the global resurgence of Islam worldwide and simply a strong love for the religion by Muslims in Malaysia.
But the survey indicated that increased religiosity does not necessarily make people fanatical or intolerant . While Malaysian Muslims have become more religious, they have also remained pragmatic and open.
‘Muslims have come to terms with the reality of a multi-religious Malaysia. We may not eat together at the same table, but it does not mean that we hate each other.’ – ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR PATRICIA MARTINEZ of the Asia-Europe Institute