Now, here’s a man who doesn’t believe in conventional play-safe behaviour. If he were a chess player, I dare say his opening would be, if playing white, f2-f4 (or in older English notation P-Q4 – I think?) – aggressive and seeking to dominate the board.
Yes, our Grand Ole Man (GOM), Dr Mahathir Mohamad, disabused us of notions that there need to be ‘moderate’ Muslims. In fact, he told Muslims to cease and desist from declaring themselves as 'moderate' or 'liberal' followers of Islam.
Why - one may ask of such a radical breath-stealing ‘opening’. Well, the GOM said that’s because the religion is indeed moderate, so why the need for tautological cringing* (or, cringing tautology).
* well, actually he didn't use these 2 words, but KTemoc availed hinself of blogger's licence ;-)
Indeed, the GOM advised Muslims to stop being so defensive by labelling themselves with an unnecessary adjective that would only encourage a false impression where ‘moderate’ or ‘liberal’ Muslims were only part of the followers of Islamic teachings, while the rest were ‘inmoderates’ and the ‘illiberals’, in other words bloody ‘extremists’.
How about that for ‘assertiveness’! But that’s vintage GOM, and that’s why the Western and Jewish worlds dislike him – how dare this brown skinned Asian talk so impertinently - how dare this 3rd World leader not cringe and submittingly accept the West's labelling, definition and classification of his ilk.
GOM as Perkim president advised delegates at the opening ceremony of the 45th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Muslim Welfare Organisation of Malaysia (Perkim):
"Islam is already a moderate religion ... there is no need for us to show that are more liberal Muslims than others. We are Muslims ... period."
That’s confidence with a capital-C.
Then, what about blokes like Osama bin Laden and gang, and Noordin Top or the late Dr Azahari?
Dr Mahathir explained that if some Muslims were labelled extremists, it was not because of the teachings of Islam. Basically those misfits lack understanding of the teachings or were manipulating the religion for their own agenda
This was a re-iteration of his previous argument that 'funndamentalist Islam' is actually the correct Islam and not the racidal extremist version that has been incorrectly labelled by so-called (mostly Western) experts who don't understand Islamic teachings.
I believe those Western writers used the word 'fundamentalist' in relation to the Christian fundamentalists, who believe in each and every word in the Bible as literally true. Well, trust GOM not to accept Western-centric nor Biblical-centric labelling.
Then he said something that would be more relevant to today’s Islamic movement (including PAS') - that "no one would be interested to join a religion whose followers are seen as losers".
"People will only be attracted when there is a successful track record...as such only when Muslims become successful in all spheres or better than others in them can we successfully carry out effective missionary activities."
"We must encourage followers who want to be successful and competitive. We should show that Islam does not stand in the way of followers who want to attain great achievements."
He also demolished a few folkflore still upheld by local Malay Muslims. He commented that there were certain locals who claimed Malays had converted to Islam during the time of Prophet Mohamad, some 1400 years ago when in fact they only did so about 600 to 700 years back.
See my previous postings:
(1) ‘bin Abdullahs’ celebrating Chinese New Year!
(2) Being ‘bin Abdullahs’ is not enough
It’s a bit like the attitude of some Chinese (and Japanese) martial art practitioners, who want (and invent) a lineage that traces the origin of their martial art to an old Taoist sage-hermit that sat on Emei or Kunlun Mountains some thousand of years ago, and probably surviving on only kua-chee* and organic mountain-grown tea.
* water-melon seeds
He also wandered into the international arena where he attributed the conflict between the Jews and Muslims in Palestine to the Israelis confiscating Palestinian lands rather than religions.
He said: "That is the main reason, not because Muslims and Jews cannot live together. History has proven that ... this conflict is because Muslims lost their homes and lands."
I believe his advice in this respect is more likely to encourage non-Muslim Malaysians to be more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, as they would then see it for what it is, a cause for justice rather than one with an Islamic jihad-ist motive, and thus UMNO's interest.
Some non-Muslim Malaysians are even quietly supporting Israel for no other reason than wanting to poke UMNO (and to a lesser extent, PAS) in their noses - a case of hitting out at surrogate targets.
See my posting on Malaysians Split over Palestine & Lebanon