Thursday, February 08, 2007

Why Chinese Muslims should not have their mosques

Saad Hashim, a reader of malaysiakini, disagreed with the Perlis Mufti’s support of Chinese Muslims in Malaysia having their own mosques. Saad averred that it would only split the Muslim community here.

I’ll quote some extracts of his letter to highlight his annoyance with Dr Mohd Asri’s stand, for example:

I am sure this idea of separate mosque for the Chinese Muslims will lead to further divide between the Malays and the Chinese, not to mention national unity. Haven’t we seen enough of Beirut where both Fatah and Hamas are Muslims.

Finally, may I ask the Perlis mufti, will he support a similar request by Malaysian-born Indians who have become Muslims or the Malays who have become Shiite Muslims or Ismaili Muslims or Ahmadiya (Qadiani) Muslims.

The more the merrier I suppose. After all, in Malaysia we already have the Catholic church, the Methodist church, the Anglican church, the Lutheran church, etc.

Saad has covered a lot of landscape in those 3 little paragraphs. But he would have delighted Israel because in them he has transported Fatah and Hamas away from Palestine to Beirut in Lebanon.

He even threw in a couple of other Muslim sects to show his fears of divisiveness, though I wonder what has that got to do with Chinese Muslims building their own mosques, which Indian Muslims in this country already have.

And to emphasize on ‘divisiveness’ he demonstrated his knowledge of Christian denominations.

Then there were his opinion of Dr Mohd Asri and supporters:

The mufti of Perlis and those who supported him in calling for separate mosques for our Chinese Muslims must be thinking they are great thinkers and pragmatists.

Well, they are completely wrong. The idea is not only divisive but it can lead to racial polarisation among Malaysia’s Muslims who are already divided over other factors.

He’s a bit too late - the racial polarisation he fretted about has been already experienced (adversely) by Malaysia’s Chinese Muslims, as described in my posting
Are Chinese Malaysian Muslims 2nd class Muslims?

Let’s move on with Saad’s other points:

In Islam, while you can say your ‘doa’ in any language, Arab is the ‘core’ language of Islam because Arab is the language of the Al-Quran. Thus it is the duty of all Muslims and Islamic governments to encourage this.

In so far as the pursuit of knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic banking or Islamic socio-political system, by all means do it in whatever language, just like Islamic scholars who are now going to Oxford and Cambridge, Leiden or Harvard for their Ph Ds.

Fair enough if the Arabic lingo should be the ‘core’ language of Islam. I recall reading one of Raja Petra Kamarudin’s article (sorry, can’t find the link, but if anyone does, please advise) and I’ll relate as much as what I can still remember.

Raja went to China and had a chitchat with a local Muslim. Their conversation turned to the use of Arabic language. Raja mentioned something to the effect that in Malaysia, while Malay Muslims can read the Quran, many don’t understand Arabic. According to Raja, the Chinese bloke said that in China, the Muslims are taught to understand the Arabic language before learning the Quran in order to appreciate God’s words.

Well, words to those effect – sorry Raja if I had misquoted you.

But be that as it may, I am sure those Chinese Muslims in Malaysia do use Arabic when reciting the Quran. But wait, Saad hasn’t finished yet. He lamented:

The problem is that when a Malaysian Chinese or Indian become a Muslim they still want to retain their ‘identity’ instead of becoming a member of the Islamic ummah, teaching and helping each other.

But but but that’s precisely what Dr Mohd Asri said of the Malay Muslims, that they (not all of course; he was speaking generally) focussed more on their ‘Malay-ness’ rather than their ‘Muslim-ness’.

Then he confirmed what the Perlis Mufti averred:

The problem with converts in Malaysia is that despite living all their life in this country, the Chinese and the Indians have never adopted Bahasa Malaysia as their primary language like those in Thailand, Indonesia, or the Philippines. To them BM is just a tool to [past] examinations or to get jobs.

Amazing switch of landscape again, though this time not of geographical dimension but of the Bahasa Malaysian language. Again I wonder what’s that got to do with Chinese Muslims having their own mosques?

Why worry about Chinese and Indian Muslims adopting the BM as their ‘primary’ language or not, when afterall Arabic as the ‘core’ language of Muslims could well be and ought to be the unifying factor

Quite frankly I am not sure what Saad wants, other than to note he contradicted himself on the issue of language - Arabic or BM?

I can only bow to the astute assessment and wise pronouncements of the Perlis Mufti, because Saad has proven the very points he (the Mufti) had made.

Saad Hashim’s full letter


  1. Now I know what's worse than being a non-bumi at Bolehland.

  2. A silly idiot who does not know what he is talking about. He sees the issue of mosques for Chinese Muslims in a very narrow, racist contest. I am all for mosques for Chinese Muslims, not because I want to see Chinese Muslims racially segregated from the Malay Muslims but because I want to see Islam being spread like a wildfire among the Chinese community in the Chinese language. With the establishment of Chinese Muslim mosques, more Chinese will come to Islam and this is good in the long run.

    Perhaps Brother Saad should think about shutting down Masjid India or Masjid Kapitan Kling which give the khutbah in Tamil if he is so concerned about "racial segregation" in mosques.

    - MENJ

  3. Saad is one disoriented bloke. While I agree with the splitting of communities ala Christians, I disagree on his views Arab as the core language, retaining identity and BM as primary language. This dude must've been living under a coconut husk. What a belying character!

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  8. Ktemoc, as usual, impostor on the loose. Please delete all comments made by the impostor.

  9. Hmmm, think if Chinese wants to have their own mosque, let them have it. If they are more comfortable in using their own mother tongue for communication, what harm can it cause?
    Churches in Malaysia also built based not only on denominations but also on speaking languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese or Tamil-speaking. If I am not comfortable with English-speaking church, I can always look for Mandarin-speaking church :)
    "In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas" - in essential things, unity; in nonessential things, liberty; in all things, charity
    Rupertus Meldenius.