[I interrupt the serialization of Hadith: A Re-Evaluation to bring this interview Kassim Ahmad had with a Croation Muslim magazine. MBM]
KASSIM AHMAD'S INTERVIEW
WITH FARIS NANIC*
8th May, 2006
1. In the last decade you have been portrayed as an anti-hadith thinker in Malaysia due to your writings on certain aspects of fiqh and shari'a. What was the problem?
A. My book titled «Hadith – A Re-evaluation» (Malay original: Hadis – Satu Penilaian Semula) is self-explanatory. I am critical of the hadith both in terms of its content (Ar. matan) as well as its chain of narrators (Ar. isnad). I did not deny its existence, but I denied its pre-eminent place with the Quran, which is a new doctrine introduced by Imam Shafi'e. That explains why the official corpus of Hadith did not come into exixtence until after Shafie introduced this doctrine that the Hadith/Sunnah is compulsory on the Muslims.
2. Bosniacs belong to the hanefi madhab and therefore have less problems with hadith role in jurisprudence. Do you think it is a universal Muslim problem?
A. In principle, I think it is a universal Muslim problem. Everywhere the majority of Muslims consider belief in the Hadith as obligatory on them.
3. You have presented a poetical metaphor describing Muslims as those who have entered a shiny palace, lock themselves in and threw the keys out. What do you mean?
A. The teaching of the Quran is complete and perfect in the sense that it is the text for a spiritually adult human being, for the university level of education. It does not teach you how to eat and dress or how to pray even, for that matter, because these things one has learnt at the primary level. But for the majority of Muslims, this perfect system means that everything, even including on what day to cut your finger nails and what prayer to say while entering the toilet, has been stipulated for them! This is their perfect system (the palace of my metaphor) of which they are extremely proud. Unfortunately, this is a prison!
4. Do you think there is a general lack of knowledge in the West on real Muslim contribution to the human civilisation or is there a deliberate manipulation and decrease of that contibution by the Western science historians?
A. It is both. Sooner or later the European and the American peoples will come to know the true Islam in the teachings of the Quran. They will not be burdened by the Hadith-bound theology of the so-called ulama. The Quran will free them and they will in turn free us. This is what is likely to happen in the next thirty to sixty years.
5. If we agree that in approximately three centuries there has not been any Muslim paticipation in revolutionary breakthroughs in science and philosophy, what is your opinion on the roots of such state of affairs?
A. The Muslim creative spirit, fired by the revolutionary teachings of the Quran, has been killed. That is the root cause. Note that the teachings of Muhammad (the Quran) came to free the then world of their burdens (of superstitions and false teachings).
6. In the light of actual unipolarism in the world and as far as the Malaysian principal stance for multipolarism and dialogue instead of conflict of civilisations, what do you think what should be the general Muslim position on dialogue among cultures and civilisations?
A. It is obligatory on Muslims everywhere to seek peace, but not peace at any price. It is obligatory on them to fight those who make war on them. The dialogue of cultures and civilizations is an important way to world peace, but not the only way. What do you do to a group that does not sincerely want a dialogue, but only wants to dominate you?
7. Some observers think that Malaysia in the post-Mahathir era is not playing a significant role any more, outside of regional considerations, namely ASEAN. Do you agree?
A. Yes, I do. Malaysia worships pragmatism and avoid philosophy like the plague. Even Tun Dr. Mahathir. So it is wise and good politics to be in the good books of Uncle Sam! But Tun Dr. Mahathir was slightly different. He was anti-colonial and anti-feudal from the very beginning.
8. Prime minister Badawi recently expressed dissatisfaction with certain tendencies in the Malaysian society and challenged civil servants to leave their posts if they are uncompetent to fulfill their tasks and duties. What is behind these statements?
A. The Malaysian bureaucracy is huge and costly, but productivity-wise it is declining. And people are complaining. That is the reason.
9. Energy and energy independence is one of the crucial factors of a country's independence and sovereignty. How do you envisage Malaysia's energy future and what do you think should be the Malaysian standpoint on nuclear technology for energy production?
A. I think Malaysia, as all sovereign countries, should develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Can we imagine what will happen to the deserts of Africa once we can turn them into gardens of green and feed the world population cheaply? That is what nuclear technology can do!
10. Malaysian government recently floated ringgit against major currencies. Is this because it feels the danger from 1998/99 Asian flu is over or because it has built enough measures to counter another speculative attack on its currency? What happened with other 1999 Mahathir's government mesures?
A. The entire world financial system is in danger of imminent collapse. It is usury-ridden and bankrupt. «The Great Disorder under Heaven» that is now reigning in the world is due to this. The sooner we correct this, the better. Most leaders of the world belong to an elitist club that does not want to rock the boat. But the Titanic is sinking! The real peoples' leaders are now few and far between. Where are the Sukarnos, the Chou En-lies, the Nehru's, the Nassers, the Ben Bellas and the Titos of today?
11. Proporodov Journal is a Croatian Bosniac Muslim minority magazine. Our readers are very interested in Malaysia's particular experience with various minority aspects. Therefore, two questions emerge. First, what is Malaysian goverment doing, bilaterally and multilaterally, to help Malay national minority in neighboring countries, especially Thailand? Second, what is the level of intregration of Chinese, Hindu, Tamil, Sikh and other minorities intoMalaysian society, especially in public sector like politics, military, diplomacy and alike?
A Given the present situation of Anglo-American imperialist world hegemony and a divided Muslim world, nothing much can be done, although we should help the poor and the down-trodden in all countries. The answer to the second part of the question is that more can be done, because so far the integration of the various communities into a just Malaysian society is quite superficial. It can be upset by a major crisis. But I think such a policy would need a new humanist political philosophy. It cannot be achieved under a so-called liberal democratic system of the capitalist Western mould.
* Mr Faris Nanic is editor of Propordov Journal, a Croatian Bosniac Muslim magazine.