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Saturday, 5 December 2009

Nationalism to Islamism- the mind’s opium.

This statement may be shocking. Generally speaking, people are indifferent when leaders speak of Islamic this and that. They have formed their own 'rational expectations'. They have already anticipated that they are just empty talks and therefore adjust their reception accordingly. This means they will say- ho hum, not again.

For example, when leaders speak about Islamic finance, does it solve financial woes? Does it help poor folks and struggling businesses get easy financing? More often it does not. But the person mooting the "Islamic' idea gets away winning brownie points.

So why do leaders have a penchant of adding affixes of Islamic to things? Because it lulls gullible Muslims and Malays into believing that just by adding this affix or prefix to the good or service we offer, we have a solution. Hence for example, to untangle the financial mess brought about by the subprime culture, we need to follow Islamic finance. In other words, it's the lack of Islam that is responsible for financial problems.

It's a raw deal for Islam these days. In Europe as pointed out by Farish Noor, everything bad there is attributable to Islamic influences. Anything associated with Islam now appears to be subjected to cultural cleansing. Hence people in Switzerland voted to ban the construction of minarets on mosques in order to stem the Islamization of that country.

On the other side, in Muslim countries, there is a tendency to use Islam or the lack thereof as an excuse to justify certain kind of thinking. The mess that's engulfing Dubai now is taking place; it is disingenuously suggested because Islamic financial practices are abandoned. The camel riding Arabs there have forsaken Islam and Islamic finance – that's why they are going bankrupt. So, if only these moneylenders businesses adopted Islamic ways, maybe Dubai won't buckle under. If only people have more 'faith'.

It's not a question of having less or more faith. This is truly a temporal issue here. It has nothing to do with lack of faith thereof which is responsible for the many ills that society faces. As we are most likely to discover, the ills encountered by society are man-made.

I just heard a newsreader on CNN alluding to the fact that maybe the whole thing now faced by Dubai now is attributable to certain Islamic financial practices such as banning the charging of interests and so forth. Perhaps this is part of the whole 'pathologisation' of anything Islam which is conveniently blamed for any economic deterioration.

We mustn't fall into this claptrap. There is no simple solution. If we are to learn anything at all from history, we have to stop reasons becoming excuses. The present day financial mess is not brought about by impersonal forces but by bad governance and management model. The current financial mess isn't brought about by the failures of market system, but by inept governments and sub-standard management.

We have to give reasons, not excuses for the slow march of Muslims along the road of progress. Hence, there are so many people saying that Malaysia and Malays are slower in the march to progress because they have abandoned Islam.

We have given an excuse, not a reason. At the same time, we have relegated Islam to an excuse. Even worse, we are always asked to look at the glorious past. We think, erroneously so, that we have offered analyses and explanations whereas in fact, we have only given retrospective rationalization. We have perfect hindsight. Its vision 2020 reversed and turned on its head.

Nowadays, anything with Islam in front or behind is a surer route to getting a captive mind. In Malaysia, there used to be 2 things that will galvanize Malays into almost a blind acceptance of things. Malay nationalism and Islam. The two never failed to commandeer Malay attention and obedience. The term Malay Nationalism as it is presently practiced is questionable. It is used as a subjugating tool to enslave the Malay mind by the elite players.

Hence the elite Malays featured glowingly in Malaysian Tattler for example, harbors no shame speaking about the unfortunate Malays while they engage in all sorts of decadence. They talk about concern for other Malays in order to perpetuate their own existence and interests. Malay nationalism or in its adulterated form- Malay affinity, is failing to stop our cynicism.

The 'players' know this. They are banking on another tool- that which is opium to the unquestioning mind. Let's talk about Islam. Not as a way of life or a mission statement. Just talk about the concept. It's a surer way to capture minds than debunked nationalism.

So recently when a deputy minister speaks about the promise of Islamic banking, the potential of the halal industry and the viability of the gold dinar, I remain unmoved. Because that clarion call is not preceded by a transformation in the thinking of Muslims. If you are obsessed more with caning the buttocks of people, murdering those with dissenting views, arresting muftis on the flimsy excuse of not having the license to do so, what good is there to talk about the promise of Islamic finance for instance? In the end, it remains what it's supposed to be- empty promises spoken by an equally flaccid mind.

7 comments:

eekaa 5 December 2009 at 20:08  

Islamic or non Islamic methods of financing are almost similar, in that when you are not paying for some personal reasons you can be burst or bankrupt.

Look at the Dubai property market, all known Islamic and Non Islamic financing giants are there to cut throat dream makers turning desert into the home of UAE financial market.

Anything known as a " borrowed fund" for that name alone, you are not a free man and hang on your neck a snake called interest, so popular among conventional financing and disgusted in Islamic financing.

Oh yes, this is the end of the world. Everybody like to earn money out of money by forcing interest on the other who had borrowed from him. What did I say? , interest? Oh my it is everywhere.

Anonymous,  5 December 2009 at 23:41  

The time when I attended an exhibiton on Perubatan Islam, I see modern gadgets which one find in any hospitals which are made by KAFIRS and also medicines too but its called Perubatan Islam.

I was wondering what's the difference ?.

puzzled

Anonymous,  6 December 2009 at 01:25  

suddenly these talkings about islam are on.everyony is giving their piece.to me it's all boil down to one's exposure,level of knowledge,experiences within and without etc etc.BUT whatever our intention,UNLESS AND UNTIL we really really know the OWNER of that religion....then we have that material to speak about HIS property....or else it could be one of those ...what 'mind's opium'!yet!..since talking about the OWNER,i personally invite everyone,to just stand in front of a mirror,look DEEP at yrself,and HOLD YR BREATH FOR 30 SECONDS...then we will find the OWNER!!!!!....then we talk about HIS ownings economically,politically,socially, global,local all the ideological isms..ideals or reals!!!

umar,  6 December 2009 at 05:02  

The man who said religion being the opium of the masses never defined what kind of dope political and economic dogmas were.
Those who speak about it are mostly politicians, who prefer ambiguity as an aid to deception.
Deception is the essence of politics.

Dense 6 December 2009 at 11:38  

"Hence, there are so many people saying that Malaysia and Malays are slower in the march to progress because they have abandoned Islam."

... and there is a much stronger argument to support the contention that Malaysians are slower on the march to progress because they have embraced Islam.

A large part of that lack of progress is because muslims believe that the only path to progress is through Islam

Suci Dalam Debu 7 December 2009 at 15:30  

Sir,

I have to agree with Dense latest posting though I would like to add...through false Islam.

Today, the real Islam is very illusive. Only the Imams and Ustaz have monopoly over true Islam and therein lies the fundamental error in Muslim societies.

Islam is so "GOOD" that you can't event have any religious discourse with Christianity etc....tak percaya, tanya JAKIM, The Kulim Wonder and you know why the umah is one confused lot and worse still, they don't even realised that they have been duped!

Sorry for the strong words but I don't really know how to put it across nicely.

Mat Cendana 9 December 2009 at 09:28  

This is along the same lines as affixing `Islam' to something, somewhat. What's in a name? A LOT, really.

I've had this incidence happen to me, which appears to have repeated itself elsewhere. Ever since we were kids, we were told of "Arak haram!... Whisky, brandy, champagne, beer..." It's because of the alcoholic content, of course.

Then the Mamak sundry shop started selling ginger beer. The older kinds would drink this and we'd threaten: "I'm going to tell your father!". To our shock, they'd cockily reply, "Go ahead".

Huh? We had expected they would plead with us with sweettalk and bribes - or their own counter-threat. Only later did we realise it wasn't alcohol.

But regardless of its content, a few of the older, conservative folks were adamant that it *was* `arak'. The younger, more educated ones including my father (who is an Ustaz) knew this was wrong. They came up with their arguments that were based on solid points; which were respectfully and patiently explained to the elders.

A few of the elders became quiet, but the two most influential (or maybe it was `most talkative'?) didn't budge even though their points of haram were more than countered. It took me many years before I understood a bit of human nature - the pride, ego... the stronger-willed elders could not accept their ever being wrong.

The educated ones inc my father did something which I was to appreciate and respect in my older years. Even though they were right, they didn't try to influence others to agree. It was "jaga muka & maruah orang tua-tua" - this is something that we lack nowadays. This, to them, is a lot more important than being seen as `right, knowledgeable'. They even advised the youths to be discreet about drinking the ginger beer "even though it wasn't haram". This is the "jaga hati orang tua-tua".

Anyway, the kids eventually got bored with the drink. There were others to try - Fanta Grape, Strawberry, Zepple, Kickapoo (my favourite). And the evergreens of F&N orange and Coca-Cola. Harmony was maintained - and this, in my opinion, is a lot more important than "being clever". Eventually people became more educated on this aspect. Decades later, when A&W arrived, and there was Root Beer, there was no controversy once it became clear what this was.

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