Thursday, May 12, 2016


By: Kassim Ahmad
10th May, 2016

            The great victory in recent Sarawak state polls raises the question of the 2018 14th General Election. We have followed the Westminster parliamentary type of democracy since independence. We have survived many crises, but still many are the weaknesses in our system. One of them is the clause in our Constitution stating “Islam is the religion of the Federation.”
            Now a country or state obviously has no religion. Its citizens have; ours consisting of the religions of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and even animism. Although freedom of religion is guaranteed in our Constitution, the clause on Islam forever poses a danger of narrow and rigid interpretation of Islam  by officialdom. It has happened several times in Malaysia. This is a potential  threat to peace and harmony in our multi-national and  multi-religious country.
I remember Prophet Muhammad’s famous  Medinah Constitution which stipulates religion to be autonomously administered by its adherence. This is the right way to solve the matter.
            Taking cue from there, we might as well go the whole way. Why do not we re-examine our Federal Constitution and amend it to conform to the Prophet’s Charter. After all, Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Abraham have been mentioned in the Quran as our examples. Prophet Abraham was a progenitor of all humankind; he was a strict monotheist and he set the example of complete freedom for all mankind by destroying all false powers, even against his own father’s polytheism.
            Now Prophet Muhammad’s  Medinah Constitution was the first written constitution in the world. [1]  It gives its plural citizenry security, freedom and justice.  Dato’ Din has kindly published this constitution with my detailed comments in his blog. This important constitutional document can be excessed in my blog (
            Although our Constitution was promulgated by great jurists, including two  Muslim ones from India and Pakistan, they seemed unaware of the Medinah Charter. It is time we bring it up, as it is a seminal legal-political document of early Islam at the time of its republican-democratic period of the Prophet and the four  rightly-guided caliphates of Abu Bakr, Omar Ibni Khattab, Uthman Ibn Affan and Ali Abi Talib.   
            Of course, many will object because we are a constitutional monarchy and the Medinah Charter is medieval, medieval by European time-scale. Europeans consider the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) as the beginning of the modern world.
            According to Pakistani philosopher, Muhammad  Iqbal, Prophet Muhammad’s  advent ( prophethood 622-632) begins the true modern world.[2]  I agree with him. Muhammad was the only prophet who was not given any miracles by God. All previous prophets had their miracles to convince the peoples of their times of the authenticity of their prophethood. Muhammad’s miracle is the Quran. [3]
            The Arab armies of liberation took only sixty years to conquer the then two superpowers, most of the hegemonic Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire, to become the Number One power in the world of the 8th through to the 15th centuries. It created a brilliant scientific civilization and culture never before seen in the world. This is attested by several objective Western writers, such as Robert Briffault  [4]and G. Satron. [5]
 Islam had its Golden Age when its Dar’ul-Hikmah (Academy of Science) took over and transmitted, with their own incomparable contributions, to the then world’s  knowledge and wisdom to. Without this important intervening Islamic  centuries, European Renaissance would not have occurred and the modern world would not have emerged.
Such is the magnitude of the contribution of  Islam to the modern world. Unfortunately, most Western historians have conspired to erase this phase of world history. It is rightly condemned by Briffault and G. Sarton.

KASSIM AHMAD is a Malaysian author. His website is     


[1] M. Hamidullah, The Fist Written Constitution in the World (Mohammad Ashraf: Lahore: 1975).
[2] The first revelation to Muhammad was,”Read, in the name or your Lord, who created. … Read, and your Lord, Most Exalted, eaches by means of the pen. He teaches man what he never knew.” These five verses caused a revolution in man’s thinking. It started the modern scientific age. (Quran, 96: 1-5) See Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (Lahore: 1958); h. 126-127.    
[3] See Quran, 29: 50-51.
[4]  See his book, The Making of Humanity (Lahore: 1919)
[5] See his Introduction to the History of Science Vol I-III (1927-48: Baltimoe: Willims & Wilkins). 

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