The present crisis in Malaysia involving the future of Malaysian
leadership threatens to engulf this beloved and vibrant Muslim multi-ethnic nation. With a
relatively strong Muslim administration and developing community, it had the potential to
prove to the world a success story in combining spiritual and moral righteousness and
material progress and advancement. It even had its own unique vision of the future and
leadership succession was almost assured. Muslims within and all around the world
cherished this hope and this model where for the first time the heir apparent is
acceptable to the Muslim as well as to the West and the rest of the world and the leader
who is fluent and engages in dialogue with any friend or adversary. Until suddenly, these
hopes were dashed by a series of conspiracies and slander hatched out of the 70's era but
replayed in the end of the 20th century played out in real "live" completely
exposed by the wealth of multimedia and global information abilities.
For those who wanted to see Islamization work as the product of acceptance and dialogue, so that the Muslim youth of the future could stand up to the challenges and onslaught of the new millennium and its continuing globilization in moderation and holding its principles, youth of confidence of the the very truth, its seems a great setback.
For the classic and stereotyped response to Islamization has been either:
Suppression, Oppression and Repression - this either in the West or most of the Muslim countries themselves e.g. Algeria, Kosova etc.
Subdued Representation - Jordan and Kuwait maybe examples
Controlled collaboration - becoming increasingly the trend as in Malaysia
We still see the need for the dakwah and tarbiyyah
approach, the path of acceptance and dialogue. Although the criticisms are to be expected
and will be more heated in favour of a much simplistic rigorously deductive uncompromising
stand. For whatever adversities the Islamic movements face, they have to continue to be
the guiding light and the mainstream path. The body of the ummah depend on them whether
they realise it or not. Although history as it is presently written may not be with us in
our time, we have to hold on to this path, this integrity whatever the consequences that
befall. For its part, history has not included the enlightened and valiant leadership of
al Imam Hasan al Banna and the major cultural and global reformation brought about by the
Ikhwan Muslimoon movement. There has not been a major popular book, novel, documentary,
movie or means to portray it as it truly was except for the grit and endeavours of its
generation, successors and the activists of the whole Muslim movements and thinkers. Even
the more academic documentations have been by Western scholars and Orientalists.
The ummah is still detached from what is truly and really happening. Hence even though they knew the truth but did not see through it or did not know what to do about it. Even the learned seem comfortable with knowing the truth behind the events but do not seem to realise it is their duty, the amanah of the ulama, the one entrusted with the knowledge of Islam and its teachings to be the vanguard, the leaders of truth and agents of change. The intellectuals too are satisfied just by engaging in non-committal and non-binding debates or deliberations of the issue, content with being in the know.
Of course, in the course of the struggle, there is the real issue, the stark reality that is fear! Fear of facing such severity, the real suppression legally and technically. It threatens the present well-being of the average Muslim. Oppression and repression when it rears its ugly head surely frightens anyone even the well eloquent popular charismatic 'alim or the da'i.. Then there is the threat of losing one's material comfort and feeling for the safety of one's family. Suddenly all these things mean a lot, much more so than the struggle. For truly is the Prophet's saying warning us of the love of life will frighten us from death. For even the activists who pray "wa amits na ala syahadati fisabilik" - and if it is ordained death, let it be in Your path, O Allah - it is easier said than done. For the masses, there has been revivals and change but the social transformation has not been able yet to manifest as an overwhelming force for determining the desired outcome.
Hopefully, we shall overcome all these with Allah's Guidance and His Compassion. All of us must counsel each other to be in perseverance, hold on in istiqamah and to uphold the truth. So an international or an all encompassing effort which will hold true to the test of time will insyallah help us in this hour of need.
Hamdan Muhammad Hassan
2 October 1998.
[Currently, he is a Senior Civil Engineer at the University Science of Malaysia. He is involved in youth activities with the Muslim Youth Movement in Malaysia. He is also the President for the Muslim Staff Association in his university.]