Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Muslim Countries (Shaded Green & Brown) Have Staunchly Remained Muslim

I am quite amused, if not slightly irritated, by the so many "inflammatory" posts on FB and the internet from both irrate Muslims as well as Christians. To me the whole thing smacks of a poor understanding of the pillars of this great country of ours, Malaysia. While there are indeed Muslims who think the whole world has nothing better to do than dismantle Islam from the face of this earth, Christians with quite a similar attitude are forever lamenting about Muslim transgression of their rights. The whole thing is caused by ignorance of history and the very pillars on which this country was given independence.

The European colonials especially the British knew from a very long time ago that proselytizing among Muslims is like stirring a hornet’s nest.  Let sleeping dogs lie seems to have been their motto and axiom. With such an approach, they successfully ruled in many Muslim countries around the world without “stirring the hornet’s nest”.  Moreover, quite unlike the Spaniards and Portuguese who had some level of missionary zeal, in stark contrast British interests was almost purely in trading and commerce.

In Malaysia many missionary schools were set up that also clearly steered off proselytizing amongst Muslims. To date, I am yet to hear of a single Muslim boy or girl who became enchanted with Christianity and converted in any missionary school. It is like some unsaid social norm amongst Muslim nations worldwide and also amongst Muslim majority nations like Malaysia and Indonesia. In  a term paper for my historical perspective studies at the undergraduate level I even had this as the thesis question for a term paper and researched on it. " Why Have Muslim Nations Remained Staunchly Muslim in spite of Repeated Colonialism and Conquest by the Christian Maritime Powers?"  Malaysia was exposed to such conquests by the Portuguese, Dutch and the English between 1511 and 1957.... 446 years mind you and the local Muslims have remained Muslims.

Christian / European Colonialization in the Middle East 
The older generations of Malayans as well as Malaysians understood this quite well and so did the Muslims who, in return, did not grudge non-Malays from professing whatever faith they wanted to and quite freely allowed temples, churches, gurdwaras etc. being built especially in areas where there were more non-Malays. Everyone was happy and life went on peacefully and Malaya (as well as Malaysia later) progressed. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 changed all of this. Like tsunami that does not recognize distance a new Islamic fervor hit the world and the world has never been quite the same since then.

Muslims could still co-exist peacefully with others but world politics as well as local politics too changed. The oil rich Muslim nations of the Gulf and North Africa in particular were more affected by this green wave of Islamic fervor. This changed attitudes from one of co-existence to hostility particularly towards the Unites States of America in particular and its allies in general – both Muslim and non-Muslim. I lived in USA between 1984 and 1987 and I witnessed no hostility at all towards Muslims and we were free to practice our faith undisturbed and unperturbed.

Today, in Malaysia as elsewhere, political leaders tend to use religion as an easy step to immediate popularity on both sides of the divide. Religion is used to divide the people and distract people from bigger woes facing the nation. Sadly, the ordinary layperson cannot see through such ploys and are easily more aroused emotionally such partisan politics than the ground reality.

In any case there are laws in any country which are legislated according to each country’s needs and as envisaged by the founding lawmakers. In Malaysia we have laws pertaining to Islam. This can be Googled easily these days. However, many Malaysians do not seem to be aware of their own laws let alone the basic tenets of their respective religions. Prior to independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman managed to convince the sultans to cede some states' powers to the federal government. One of the terms of this agreement is that the sultans shall still remain the ultimate authority of Islamic law in their respective states. The same arrangement was observed even during British colonial rule.

I end by quoting what each religion says regarding interaction with other fellow human beings – often referred to as The Golden Rule. Of this the Wikipedia says “The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim, ethical code, or morality that essentially states either of the following:

1.One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (positive form)

2.One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated (negative/prohibitive form,
   also called the Silver Rule)

See for 21 versions of the golden rule in 21 religions. 

With this I rest my case.

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