Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Sun Weekend Interview with Kassim Ahmad

The Sun WEEKEND EDITION :: Conversations
August 19, 2005

Modern Day Hang Jebat
Zainon Ahmad

KASSIM AHMAD is considered by many as Malaysia's foremost intellectual and thinker. He first challenged the traditional interpretation of Hang Tuah as the ultimate hero by elevating the anti-hero, Hang Jebat, as the true hero. He next challenged the infallibility of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. He was detained under the ISA for nearly five years for daring to openly express his political views. But he refuses to be cowed, and now 71, he continues to speak his mind about corruption, abuse of power and the need for the government to be more transparent and to involve the rakyat whenever making major decisions. He continues to speak against the ulama for perpetuating an Islam which cripples Muslims' ability to think rationally. He is not optimistic about Vision 2020 if more people are not involved in its review and implementation. In fact he told ZAINON AHMAD he is rather apprehensive about the immediate future of the country.

theSun: For a long time your were chairman of PSRM and then you resigned and joined Umno. And then you gave up active politics. Why?

Kassim: My leaving PSRM had two reasons. Firstly, after the Sino-Soviet schism in the sixties, seventies and eighties, I realised that socialism was becoming more and more untenable internationally and within the country it was not acceptable to the Malays. I wanted to transform it to accommodate nationalism and Islam and wanted to bring it closer to Umno under the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. This was not acceptable to the majority of the leaders at that time. This was the second reason.
Although I joined Umno in 1986, after some years, I gave up active politics because at that time I saw that "money politics" was already firmly established in the party. I would add that had I been younger, say 50, I would have fought to transform Umno. But, as I was past 60 at that time, I thought I had better use my remaining years for my writing.

the Sun: You are still writing. Which do you find more satisfying - involvement in writing or involvement in politics?

Kassim: I would say both, as both have the same aim for me - the attainment of the good society. But I would also add that in writing, I have more freedom. This is to me more satisfying and more fruitful.

the Sun: Values have changed since the days you first joined PSRM. Many would say that you have not been very successful in life. Nothing much for you to show for all your involvement in writing and politics. No flashy cars and no huge bungalows. Your comment on this.

Kassim: It would depend on what you want from life. In the sense that I do not have the financial and social status of what our society today calls a successful man, I am a failure. In the first place I did not set out to achieve those things. In politics, I wanted the power to change society for the better. That I have failed, but I do not think that our society is better today, in spite of the apparent political stability and the economic and material growth of the last 30 years. On the other hand, I do enjoy a certain recognition among the people for what I have written about and what I stand for. This is very gratifying, even inspiring.

the Sun: You changed the protagonist of that famous epic Hikayat Hang Tuah from Hang Tuah the hero to Hang Jebat the rebel. Do you sometimes feel that you are also some sort of a Hang Jebat?

Kassim: I am a rebel and a revolutionary in spirit. Hang Jebat and I have many things in common.

the Sun: Are you the first one to come up with Jebat as the protagonist instead of Hang Tuah.

Kassim: May be not. There were some such views circulating at that time. And these views circulated in some circles following the screening of the movie Hang Tuah which saw the legendary actor P. Ramlee playing the title role. Then came another movie Jebat Derhaka. This time Jebat was clearly the hero of the story. The role of the rebellious warrior was played by another great actor, Nordin Ahmad. During this period, a number of writers came out to question whether it was Hang Tuah or Hang Jebat who was ultimately the hero of the epic. So I would not dare to claim that I was the first to come up with the idea. But I want to tell you something about this.

When I was in Malay school, there was a teacher who liked to tell us stories from the old Malay literature. One day he brought to me the Hikayat Hang Tuah - in three volumes and in Jawi. This was the first time I read the story. I think it was the Shellabear edition. I was especially taken up by the characters of the four friends who grew up together and became warriors of Malacca. But I was especially interested in the characters of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat - their bravery, their skills as fighters and their sense of adventure. The tale inspired me. So much so that when I had to write my thesis in university, I chose to dwell on the Hikayat Hang Tuah. But the central idea of what I wrote had already been formed when I first read the Hikayat.

There were several things about Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat that drew me to them. First of all they were very close friends like they were close friends with the other two. They did everything together and they went to seek knowledge together. For some time, they studied together in the sanctuary of mountain caves in Malacca and Java under the guidance of several gurus known for their spiritual knowledge and skills in martial art. They came back to serve as warriors of the Malacca empire. One day, Hang Tuah was accused of having an affair with one of the Sultan's concubines and condemned to death without so much as an inquiry into what happened. Hang Jebat, the loyal friend that he was, refused to believe that the upright foremost warrior of the land was guilty of such a charge. When the Sultan gave him Hang Tuah's position, he accepted. But he was already planning to avenge his friend's death ordered by the Sultan on trumped up charges. And then he rebelled. He forced the Sultan and his family out of the palace and took it over. He made the Sultan's concubine his. The warriors, including Javanese courtiers who had schemed to get Hang Tuah to fall out of the Sultan's favour, sent to capture and dislodge him, were killed or chased away by him. All that he did was his way of avenging the unjust execution of his friend. More than that it was his way of rebelling against the system which required absolute and blind loyalty to the ruler. And then Hang Tuah came back. Instead of putting him to death, the bendahara had hidden him away in some remote part of the empire until the Sultan's anger had subsided somewhat. And now Hang Tuah, ever the loyal subject of the ruler and servant of the system was ordered to kill Hang Jebat. They fought and after fatally stabbing his friend, Hang Tuah walked away from the scene. Hang Jebat also staggered out of the palace and went amok killing several hundred people who had gathered around the palace.

Hang Jebat had rebelled against an unjust system. He blamed the people for allowing the system to prevail over them. And that's why he killed them. To him, people must be responsible. They must speak up against injustices. They must protest by words or deeds. It is their responsibility.

the Sun: Back to Hang Jebat. He went against the system that maintained the social order at that time. Like the people he killed, he was himself part of the system. So is it justified for him to kill these people because he was as much to be blamed for allowing the system to continue?

Kassim: Of course, you cannott defend his killing of innocent people. But you have to take that incident holistically. These people were also members of the society in which the incident took place. Of course the Sultan and his ministers were involved in the system. But as members of a society, the people too were also involved - indirectly involved. As Muslims, their duty was to promote what was good and to discourage evil or injustices. But they did nothing. This is our functions as citizens of this land. We must speak out against what is unjust and unfair.

Take the case of the United States. It is supposed to be a world power. It has a strong military. It has all kinds of missiles. It has financial power and political power. But you see what is happening to the US today; it has a debt of more than US$3 trillion. No way they can settle that. But because the rest of the world do nothing to challenge the US domination, they continue to lord it over the world - especially Third World countries and countries in the Middle East. At least in those days there were the USSR and China. But now Russia and China more or less pander to the will of the US. All now bow down to the US. As a result, the US gets away with all kinds of things and do what they like in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is free to threaten countries like Syria and Iran and others who refuse to acknowledge that US is boss. It ignores the UN with impunity. Why? Because we have failed in our responsibility. Collectively, we have failed to rein in a fellow country and have allowed it to become the bully that it is now.

the Sun: So what you are saying is that in any system - domestic or international - there is a need for a Hang Jebat?Absolutely.

Kassim: There must always be Hang Jebats - people who can think independently and who are willing to act to overcome the iniquities in the system. These are things like abuse of power, corruption, inefficiency and overspending. These things are in our country too. But not enough people are speaking up. That's why we are doomed. I am rather apprehensive of the immediate future.

the Sun: So are you a Hang Jebat?

Kassim: You see, what is society? A Greek philosopher says that the only constant is change. And you have to keep up with the changes. Some of these changes you help to make. You have to engineer the changes and cope with them. Take Vision 2020 for instance. We are half way through already. You know that in order to be a developed country by then we have to have 7% economic growth every year. Now we are around 5%. The forecast for next year is not so good. So how can we be a developed nation economically by 2020? OK, that's first.

Secondly, can Malaysia be a developed nation socially and morally by then? Everyday we read about crime - various types of crime. So people should review this long-term plan. The Umno general assembly should do it. Maybe, (we can) have an EGM for the purpose.

the Sun: But the AGM is just over.

Kassim: I know, but they did not talk about this. Instead they talked about the New Economic Policy. That is the past. More than 30 years had been expended on it. You know, in a generational perspective, if you cannot achieve the objectives of a plan or scheme within a generation, there is something wrong with its implementation. To have it again means you may just repeat all the wrong steps.

the Sun: So what you are saying is that the revival of the NEP or the implementation of its revival under the New National Agenda is unnecessary. Because there is no guarantee that in 15 years the bumiputras will own 30% of the national economic cake. Is that it?

Kassim: Yes. Before you embark on a new stage, you must examine the past - whether or not you have actually put your best efforts to achieve the previous objectives. Everyone knows of the political corruption in Umno. Everybody knows of abuses of power in government and the country's administration. Why don't Umno discuss this rationally and try to remedy these problems quickly. Otherwise, why talk about a new initiative when it is going to face the same problems - corruption and abuses of power?

So what is to be done now? The next general assembly is a year away. By that time the new initiative may have already started.Our people, our media, those who write for the media in whatever form must call on the government to have a mid-term review of the long-term objectives like Vision 2020. There must be several seminars nationwide to have a look at the strategies to achieve the objectives. We don't want another long-term plan to continue it after 2020 because the objectives have not been achieved.

In fact in a recent seminar on media organised by Utusan Melayu at Universiti Sains Malaysia, one participant rebuked the media for failing to bring to light the problems faced by the country in implementing Vision 2020. But the media are not doing this. This speaks poorly of our editors. They play safe so that they can continue with the perks and the comfort provided by their positions. So they do not tell the truth. It is like the story of the Titanic - they believed that nothing could happen to the ship, that it was a ship that water will not come through. The makers and the owners said that it was unsinkable. The captain believed it and everyone else believed it too. How arrogant! So we must not be like the people on the Titanic.

The government should be brave enough to tell Malaysians to provide feedback on the implementation of the plan thus far. It must say "tell us the truth, please". And it must be far-sighted and magnanimous enough to accept the views and criticisms of the rakyat voiced through the various organisations and seminars.

the Sun: This idea of developed status, how do you define it? Malaysia is trying to achieve this status in 2020. Selangor is going to declare that it is already a developed state. What do you think of the official definition?

Kassim: Yes, I raised this very question in my paper at the Utusan Melayu-USM seminar. I asked whether Malaysia is going to be developed in the way the US and Britain are developed. I said I do not think many people would like that. I know I would not like that.

The US, for instance, has the highest rate of crime in the world. Is that maju? And it goes and invade other countries just because it has the power to do so - completely ignoring the voices of the UN and the other countries. Is that maju? Civilised?

Maju means well-off in all aspects - economically, politically, materially, morally, spiritually. People are intellectually advanced. We have to discuss this. Together we must come up with a proper definition and objectives, and then work towards them together.

the Sun: Are you suggesting that this definition of maju and the objectives were not exhaustively discussed before Vision 2020 was launched?

Kassim: It was launched by former PM Tun Mahathir Mohamad.With due respect to Mahathir - I like him and agree with many of the things that he did and said - but when he first unveiled this project Vision 2020, a major national plan, he presented it to a group of business people. This was in 1991. He should have presented it to Parliament or even to the Umno general assembly first. This is a major political programme which should involve everyone - everyone's input. For it to be really successful, it must involve everyone's effort.

the Sun: You mean we should have all been consulted?

Kassim: Absolutely. But no. Why? Because this country is still feudal. We have feudal leaders who prefer to talk down to the rakyat. Top down. Everything is done through rulings from the top. It should be both ways - top down and down up, or down up and top down. Consultative. In the case of Vision 2020, there was no consultation at all. I think for all major programmes, the people must be consulted. Thus today - after 15 years - we are still not quite sure what we mean by maju or what the government means by maju.

the Sun: But don't you think we are already there economically and materially? Maybe not morally. But how do you define maju morally?

Kassim: Even economically and materially, there are many aspects which are not very satisfactory. Just look at the public transport system. Is it satisfactory? Our roads are congested. Our roads in the housing estates are also congested. Penang is worst because it is a small island. How are you going to resolve this? Everyone knows that with proper public transport, families will not rush to buy cars. With fewer cars, the roads will not be so congested.
Education is another example we have to look at. As it is, our education system is in a mess.

the Sun: Why do say that it is in a mess?

Kassim: You do not have to go far. Just look at the unemployment among graduates for instance. About 80,000. Even if it were just 18,000 [as one minister had suggested], it is still a huge figure. It should not happen. How can you have graduates not employed? It does not make sense. Because graduates are supposed to be the cream of the nation. There must be plenty of places that need their knowledge, skills or ability. So for these graduates not to be employed, there must be something seriously wrong. Something wrong with them or the institutions that produce them. Something wrong with the curriculum at these institutions. Something wrong with the policies that decided the contents of curriculum. Maybe even something wrong with education from the primary to the secondary schools before these graduates even entered the universities or colleges.

Nobody seemed to be concerned. Just like nobody seemed to be concerned about all manner of Islamisation that is going on in the schools and elsewhere.

the Sun: But the trend towards Islamisation is the result of what was going on outside the country. It entered the country as part of the Islamic revival movement. Do you think we should have better control of what is happening here?

Kassim: To me, this latest trend in Islam does not make sense. Islam is not in the tudung or the scarf or hijab or even in the skull cap. Islam is in the mind and the heart. Do you understand what Islam means? Do you understand what tauhid means? And their implications? Is not telling the truth one aspect of tauhid? How many people in Malaysia are telling the truth? How many people in Malaysia are just in their actions? If we are not truthful and if we are unjust, then we are far away from practising Islam no matter how completely women wrap themselves up in order not be ogled at by men or how big the turbans the men wear. As has been said often, it is the form that matters.

the Sun: So in your view, it is the form that is stressed most in the religious education of our children. The real substance of Islam - telling the truth and being just - is not stressed at all.

Kassim: Yes. Everything is form. Reciting the prayers before lessons and after lessons in the classroom are just forms. They are mindless recitations. Much of what is being taught is not true Islam. True Islam, if taught properly, would develop Muslims to be wholesome, kind and well-mannered people committed to truth, fairplay and justice. Do you have many of such Muslims around in this country? Not many religious teachers speak about the purpose of prayer as being to develop a Muslim to be a good person. That is the main purpose. Of course, it is submission to God, and in submitting to Him you follow all that He wants you to do and to refrain from doing those things He doesn't want you to do. But is this emphasized in school? And in all this, and above all else, is honesty emphasized. A person must be able to honestly say that he submits to his God.

the Sun: Talking about honesty, do you think all of us can honestly say that we accept this concept of Malaysia as a multi-racial nation and are doing everything we can to make this country a truly multiracial one?

Kassim: I do believe that our multi-racial people can live in peace and harmony, but our peaceful and harmonious condition is more apparent than real. I wish it were real. To achieve that reality, there must be more economic and social justice and government and its institutions must be run on the basis of consultation with the people so as to ensure their maximum support and so as to ensure they are free from corruption and abuse of power. All levels of people must be consulted, all races and groups must be consulted.

As I said earlier, there must be as wide a consultation as possible whenever the country is embarking on some major effort or decision. You have to do that because you want people - all people - to support you. You can be sure that your policy will be truly successful if everyone supports you. You don't want some people successful if everyone supports you. You don't want some people to say "ah, that will benefit only the Malays, why should I support it". You must explain the policy to as wide an audience as possible and try to convince them that what is about to be done is the right thing. There must be discussion. And, of course, this will take time. But in the end, it is the only effective way of doing things because it is accepted by most Malaysians. So that is very important.

Second, of course, our economy. Our economists, people in Bank Negara and most national experts are of the view that all is well with our economy. Without going into detail, after 48 years of Merdeka, we still see in our newspapers reports and pictures of people living in run-down and dilapidated houses, old people without support, families in abject poverty. How can this be? And we say our economy is fine. How can this be if these situations still exist. What are the welfare departments doing? What are the branches of the various parties doing? What are Umno branches doing? What are the imams of the mosques doing? What is the zakat section of the religious departments doing?

That these things are still there shows all these organisations are not doing their work. Even if our economy is truly sound, if these organisations are not doing their work, it will give an impression that our economy is not truly sound. We can only say that our economy is truly sound when there is no unemployment. We have been talking mostly about unemployment among graduates but what about unemployment at all levels? If people are not employed, they will resort to other means to survive.

This will cause the crime rate to shoot up. It is a challenge to their morality. How to live morally if you have no jobs.

the Sun: Is the Malaysia of today what you would have liked to see when you first entered politics? Is it a nation yet?

Kassim: Not at all. I want a Malaysia united and free, and free from poverty and free from corruption and injustices. That is not utopian. I believe it can be achieved, given the right politico-economic doctrines.

the Sun: You wrote the book Hadith: A Re-Evaluation and caused a national uproar. One by one, the various states in Malaysia banned the book. How did you take the decision?

Kassim: I did not expect such an uproar, but I took it philosophically. I see it as a sure sign that today's Muslims are almost beyond redemption. In the last few years, it is the Americans who are coming (in the most civilised way) to teach the Muslims how to live in a more civilised way. Did anybody expect that to happen?

the Sun: Had this book been written today, do you think it would have received the same fate, considering that Islam Hadhari is being promoted now?

Kassim: Islam Hadhari is a political strategy - just as progressive Islam is among Muslim progressives - to surmount the difficulties posed by Islam under the control of the ulama class. It will not work. My book would have been banned just the same. It would be worse, because then Tun Dr Mahathir was at least intellectually on my side. The present prime minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, is much more accommodating to the ulama class. I am fearful of the immediate future of our country.

the Sun: Now these two things that you have done - promoting the idea that there should be more Hang Jebats in society and your call that the reports on the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad should be re-evaluated - have sort of defined you. Basically what you are saying is that you must speak up against corruption, abuse of power and unjust practices and that Muslims must take another look at the existing collection of reports of the words and deeds of the Prophet. Am I correct?

Kassim: I am sad that people associate me with being anti-hadith. That is not the reaction I expected when I wrote the book. That is not the reason for writing the book. I am not anti-hadith, just as I am not anti-Greek philosophy or Chinese philosophy or modern Western philosophy, for that matter. You see the title of the book is A Re-Evaluation. Every Muslim knows that the hadith or reports were collected by people like Muslim, Buhkari and the others 250 years or more after Prophet Muhammad's death. You see hadith means report. So when you talk of hadith you are talking about the reports on the words and doings of the Prophet Muhammad. But most people forgot about the report part of it. They think hadith means words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad. That itself is a major error already. A report and what actually happened are two different things.

You see all these reports were collected between 250 and 300 years after the death of the Prophet. Some of these reports were written down informally by companions of the Prophet while he was still alive for their own reference. Some were verbal ones passed down by word of mouth by these companions to their children and their descendants.

But when one of the Imams, Shafie, came out with a fatwa that the traditions must be accepted as part of the sources of jurisprudence for the guidance of the Muslims, the decision was made to collect them. Hundreds of thousands of reports or hadith were discovered. Some were authentic and many were evidently not.

So collectors like Muslim, Bukhari, Tarmizi and others had to sift through them and verify them and then included in their collections. Only those they confirmed were authentic.Yes. Bukhari, for instance, collected about 600,000 reports or hadith. He only accepted 6,000 of them as authentic - about 1 percent of the total number that he managed to collect. He rejected 99 percent. So you can say that he is among the first to evaluate and re-evaluate the collection of hadith. So you can actually say that he is the first anti-hadith scholar. And there were the other collectors. Those considered authentic form part of our sources of law and how we are to do things.

the Sun: And the reason for writing that book on Hadith: A Re-Evaluation is to call for another re-evaluation of those hadith that are now our sources. Is it because you feel that re-evaluation is necessary after more than a thousand years?

Kassim: Yes. Even our laws are reviewed from time to time. Our constitution is all the time under review. The reports or hadith are not sacrosanct. They are not the words of God. Only the Quran is the word of God. It is universal. In the case of the Quran, the actual text cannot be reviewed but their translation or interpretation can and should be revised. This is because knowledge is not static. It is always developing. The Quran speaks about the splitting of the atom when for a long time the atom was accepted as the smallest part of any substance.

the Sun: So what you are saying is that after so many years there need to be a re-evaluation or revision of our traditional sources and also the tafsir, exegesis and interpretations of the Quran.

Kassim: Many of them were written more than a thousand years ago and we need to revise them in the light of changes happening in the world. You should not fear doing this because the Quran, being the word of God, is not in contradiction with the truth - universal truth, the scientific truth. If you find contradictions, then your understanding of the Quran is at fault. It is also said that if you find contradictions between the two unviersal books, then your understanding of them is at fault. The two universal books are the Quran and the unwritten Book of Nature. Both being the work of God, they cannot contradict each other.

the Sun: So were you surprised that there was opposition to your call for a re-evaluation of not only the hadith but also the various interpretations and tafsir of the Quran?

Kasiim: No. It was only to be expected. I would be surprised if there was no opposition. Pleasantly, maybe, as there is then hope for us all if there was no opposition. And this is not just here but elsewhere too. So it is sad for the Muslim ummah.

Look at the ummah everywhere. The conditions of the Muslims everywhere cannot be worse. In fact, the Muslims do not matter anymore. They do not impact anything anymore. They do not decide anymore. The Americans make decisions about the Muslims without even considering their views and their feelings. You can see this happening in the Middle East, for instance in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The reasons this is happening is that Muslims are weak. They are weak because they think according to interpretations made a thousand years ago. They were the guiding lights then. But when the world moved on, they stayed where they were. Their thinking remained where it was. So that is the Muslim's fault.

the Sun: But some people are saying, how can we reject the hadith? If we reject the hadith, we cannot worship God the way we do now. Because how we worship God is contained only in the hadith.

Kassim: I too thought like that once. But you will be surprised that some details of how we worship God are in the Quran, like how to clean ourselves. Other than that, like how many bows and prostrations are not specified. But then these were already customary ways of performing prayer even before Prophet Muhammad's time. Prophet Isa did similar bowing and prostrating. In fact, Prophet Muhammad was praying that way already even before he was called to the prophethood. He was, in fact, one of the many hanif - the descendents of those practicing the religion of Prophet Abraham. So the manner and ways of praying were one of the many hanif - the descendants of those practising the religion of Prophet Abraham. So the manner and way of worshipping and praying, and even fasting, were already established during the time of Prophet Abraham. All the prophets, ending with Muhammad, performed their prayers the way Abraham did. And today's Muslims perform their prayers the same way. Except that many Muslims today observe more the form of prayer but not the spirit. Thus, it can be said the Muslims have lost the true prayer.

the Sun: So do you think there is a possibility your book will no longer be banned one of these days?

Kassim: Maybe 10 or 20 years down the road it will be accepted as Muslims become freer from the control of their ulama. Already, in many parts of the Muslim world, a few scholars are calling for the review and re-evaluation. Presently, the majority of the Muslims still are under the control of the ulama. It is like an institution of priesthood now. As everyone knows, there is no priesthood or clergy in Islam. So how can this be? Anyway, let me tell you one anecdote regarding my book. It had even been translated into English and was published in Tucson in the US. I went to Europe last year to visit my daughter and later also to London where I have friends in some universities. So I ordered five of the books from Tucson. I was surprised when our customs refused to allow the books in.

the Sun: What do you think about Umno's promotion of Malaysia as "Negara Islam"?

Kassim: This is another political strategy, to beat PAS's growing influence among the Malays at that time. True Islamic teachings can be the basis of a new political-economic doctrine that the present bankrupt neo-liberal world needs. Our thinkers should think along the line.

the Sun: There was a proposal earlier this year for the setting up of an interfaith commission but it was shot down mostly because of objections from the Muslims. Do you think it should have been allowed?

Kassim: It was not shot down by the Muslims. Some Muslim organisations like Sisters-in-Islam and Forum Iqra', my organisation, were on the organising committee. It was opposed by those Muslims under the dictatorship of the ulama class. My view is that it should have been allowed. Islam Hadhari, with its progressive principles, should have allowed it. It would have been a good platform for inter-faith discussion, debate and cooperation. That is a good forum where you can discuss many things, many problems between the practitioners of the various faith.

the Sun: Generally are you saying that our ulama are stumbling block to change and progress?

Kassim: Yes, they are. Now who are they? An alim is an expert - an expert in anything. So an engineer is an alim. Plural for alim is ulama. So a group of engineers can be referred to as ulama. A group of doctors are ulama.

But what has happened is that in our country those teaching religion, religious officials, mosque officials, those who read the prayers or doa at functions are referred to as ulama. They have hijacked the term for themselves. These are people whose source of knowledge are books written a thousand of years ago. And they are the ones guiding us now.

Fri, 19 Aug 2005


Anonymous said...

Terima kasih Dr Bakri. Suka baca wawancara ini :) fathi aris omar, jakarta

Anonymous said...

Oh ya lupa. Petikan yang saya suka:

(1) Because this country is still feudal. We have feudal leaders who prefer to talk down to the rakyat. Top down. Everything is done through rulings from the top. It should be both ways - top down and down up, or down up and top down. Consultative.

(2)The present prime minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, is much more accommodating to the ulama class. I am fearful of the immediate future of our country.

hero said...

The call for re-evaluation are also been lauded by Ziauddin Sardar....but the question remain the same, who will re-evaluate? since the interpretation of ulamak is confine to those in religiuos knowledge only. In Malaysia we have a lot of institute specialised in Islamic studies such as IKIM, Inst. Latihan Islam and so on, but the muslim still afraid or feel insecure when a christian community wanted to built a church. Why is that so?

Kassim Ahmad said...

Dear hounarable readers,
Thanks for the comments.
Criticism and re-evaluation of the corpus of our inherited knowledge (tafsir, propethic tradition, law, theology, etc)must be undertaken based on the first source (Quran), logic and reason. Fair-minded and competent scholars must do it. They must also organize to promote and urge free debate to resolve the fundamental propblems of the ummah.
We are at the worst period in our history. God has no favourites. He will bypass us and elect other people as we fail to do His bidding. Our erstwhile enemies, the Judeo-Christen nations of Europe and America, may adopt the Quran, as our priesthood has abondoned it for other sources!