Friday, April 18, 2008


Kassim Ahmad

April 18, 2008

“He bestows wisdom upon whomsoever He chooses, and whoever attains wisdom, has attained a great bounty. Only those who possess intelligence will take heed.” Quran, Surah Al Baqara 2: 269.

“Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts – anyone who believes in God, and the Last Day, and leads a righteous life – will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.” Quran, 2: 62.

The just-concluded 12th Malaysian General Election has introduced a new reality into the lives of all Malaysians. UMNO specifically and the B.N. generally have to overhaul their thinking, their policies, their outlook on the ordinary people, their governance, and not least their political philosophy. They must do this soon, within the next six months. Otherwise, it may be too late for them to recover.

The three opposition parties (Pakatan Rakyat, or the People’s Alliance) that now rule five states also have to clarify their political philosophies. They must form a cohesive coalition and deliver on their promises. They must prove themselves better than the previous BN at governance, and must do so within the next 100 days.

The people too have a big task ahead. We have to modify our thinking. We have to make a paradigm shift, no less. First and foremost, we must think of ourselves as Malaysians, as patriotic Malaysians.

What is a patriotic Malaysian? This is a philosophical poser. Our intellectuals and thinkers must put their heads together and hammer out what it means to be a patriotic Malaysian, and do so soon.

I will delineate the major issues. First is the question of race, and its emotional and psychological attachments. Second, is the question of religion; we are all familiar with the problems associated with religion. Third is the meaning of a just society. We must resolve these three major issues soon. If we can do so satisfactorily and soon, then rest assured that come 2050 we will be a successful Malaysian nation.

On the issue of race, we are born into this world belonging to various racial groups: Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Muruts, Dayaks, etc. It is the natural order; God made us this way. At the same time, we are also human beings, Homo sapiens, of one parentage, Adam and Eve. We can also say that God made us this way. There is no contradiction between being a Malay/Chiness/Indian, etc., and being a Malaysian. There is also no contradiction in being a Malaysian and at the same time being a member of the world community.

Malaysia has a history long before the European colonialists came to intervene in our affairs. This historical pattern will reform with the colonialists receding from the scene. History is what we make of it, still, it has its own laws which we flout only at our detriment.

So from the historical perspective, the race question can easily be resolved.

The religious issue is more intractable yet not beyond solution if we apply reason to solving it. The Quranic quotation above (2: 62) recognizes plurality in religion. It mentions all religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and others. What is important is that the verse points to the existence at all times of believers (in God, the Last Day, and in doing good) from among the various religious groups. In other words, there are believers from among Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Budhists, and other religious groups, in all historical times, including the present. Thus, true believers in God are not to be defined by their names or outward behaviors. That verse defines believers in God as those who believe in the final accountability before God, and in doing good.

The verse also has other implications. It implies tolerance of other religions apart from one’s own. It also means dialogues of religions, consciously and peacefully undertaken (or otherwise) at finding the truth. It implies that no force to be used in matters of religion. Verse 256 of Surah 2 of the Quran clearly and absolutely prohibits the use of force matters religious. The truth shall prevail by its own force, its reason, its fairness and its beauty.

There is a grave misunderstanding among some Muslims about the so-called Islamic State. They consider it their duty to set up an “Islamic state” whenever they are in the majority. In the Quran there is no mention whatsoever about the setting up of an “Islamic state”. Nor did Prophet Mohammad, s.a.w., in his famous Medina Charter which he drew up himself mention the term. What Muslims are urged to do, when they are in a position to rule, is to do so justly. (See Quran, 4: 8) However, a misreading and a misunderstanding of the verses regarding judging by God’s laws have made latter-day theorists of “Islamic state” to uphold the so-called “Fixed Punishments”, the Hudud Law. Legal historians acknowledge that punishment for crimes has varied from place to place and from time to time.

The third issue of a just society is no longer a difficult one. The world community has a general understanding of this concept. What we in Malaysia need is a philosophical commitment to these globally accepted norms. The American Declaration of Independence, the U. N. Declaration of Human Rights, and the Five Principles of the Bandung Conference are among the major landmarks that provide the legal underpinnings as well as meaning to the concept of a just society. I would also add the Medina Charter and the Quran. These landmark documents will guide us in setting up a just society.

Adding the Quran does not mean my being partial to Islam or Muslims. Unlike other sacred texts, the Quran is God’s last message to Mankind. The Quran contains the wisdom necessary for Mankind to make the necessary leap into the Higher Life that God has destined for us. Unfortunately, we Muslims have abandoned the Quran (see Quran, 25: 30-31). I am certain that it will be restored to its rightful place in the near future.

Kassim Ahmad is a Malaysia author. He can be contacted at His website is


Anonymous said...

Dear Saudara Kassim,

I hardly read about your article. But I knew u are a bit famous by islamist as they labelled u as murtad, anti-islam, so on and so forth.

Anyway since I read writings from Raja Petra and Dr Asri, I realised that there are a lot of things about Islam that I dont know. And I beginning to see that Muhammad worked is purely political.

Anyway I still put Muhammad as a very good politician and nationalist (I believe he is the one that introduced nationalism theory). And most of all I still believe that there is one and only God i.e The God.

Now I'm trying to search all Malays that either socialist (like Rustam Sani) or liberal (like Malik Imtiaz). I do hope u guys can get together and put me in.

It's good that we can sit and chat about a lot of thing.


P.s. U dont need to post this comment if u dont want to. It is intended for u only.

Kassim Ahmad said...

Yes, please do. What do you want to discuss? Maybe you can find answers to your questions in my new book, "Mencari Jalan Pulang - Daripada Sosilisme kepada Islam"