Christian-Muslim Dialog in Malaysia: Terms of Engagement (Part 2)

Participants seeking dialog with Islam may well despair when confronted by what seems to be a religion that is fixed and unchangeable. How can dialog be possible if participants are not open to rational discussion? In this regard, it is encouraging to note the emergence of Muslim scholars calling for reformation of Islamic law as a necessity for successful engagement with Modernity. I find the proposal for reformation of Shariah law by Abdullahi An-Na’im, having the most potential for opening new possibilities for dialogue.

Christian-Muslim Dialog in Malaysia: Terms of Engagement (Part 2)

Challenges for Muslims

Participants seeking dialog with Islam may well despair when confronted by what seems to be a religion that is fixed and unchangeable. Conservative ulamas (scholars) insist that there can be no fundamental reforms to Shariah since the gate to itjihad (new knowledge and new reforms to Shariah) has already been closed in the 10th century.

Indeed, many Muslims take pride in the claim that all that is necessary for salvation and for the ordering of society has already been revealed. Likewise, Syed H. Nasr emphasizing that it should not be the case of divine law accommodating to changing society; rather, it should be a case of changing society to meet the requirements of God’s immutable law.

How can dialog be possible if participants are not open to rational discussion? Continue reading “Christian-Muslim Dialog in Malaysia: Terms of Engagement (Part 2)”

Christian-Muslim Dialog in Malaysia: Terms of Engagement (Part 1)

Some Christians avoid dialogue because of their own misconceptions. It is therefore appropriate for us to analyze how the meaning and goals of true dialogue could realistically be set in Malaysia. In the first place Christians should enter into the national debate about what common society we should work towards. The absence of a Christian voice results in a de facto surrendering of the public sphere to the dominant majority. Surely, this is an irresponsible act and an unconditional surrender to the hegemonic majority. Our failure to respond vigorously has resulted in a continual erosion of our Constitutional rights by many undebated legislations.

Christian-Muslim Dialog in Malaysia: Terms of Engagement (Part 1)

Challenges for Christians
Some Christians avoid dialogue because of their own misconceptions. It is therefore appropriate for us to analyze how the meaning and goals of true dialogue could realistically be set in Malaysia. In the first place Christians should enter into the national debate about what common society we should work towards. The absence of a Christian voice results in a de facto surrendering of the public sphere to the dominant majority. Surely, this is an irresponsible act and an unconditional surrender to the hegemonic majority. Our failure to respond vigorously has resulted in a continual erosion of our Constitutional rights by many undebated legislations. Continue reading “Christian-Muslim Dialog in Malaysia: Terms of Engagement (Part 1)”

The Dhimmi Syndrome: The Psychological Degradation of the Oppressed

The Dhimmi Syndrome
Twelve centuries of humiliation impressed upon the individual and collective psychologies of the oppressed groups a common form of alienation – the dhimmi syndrome. On the individual level it was characterized by a profound dehumanization. The individual, resigned to a passive existence, developed a feeling of helplessness and vulnerability, the consequence of a condition of permanent insecurity, servility, and ignorance.

The Dhimmi Syndrome: The Psychological Degradation of the Oppressed

I was psychologically traumatized recently. Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about being hit by a mid-life crisis. Instead the reason for my distress came from UMNO politicians asserting that Malaysia should be ruled by a pivotal race (Malays). It is apparent that such sentiments are gaining ascendancy among Muslim/Malay activists, given how statements about Ketuanan Melayu dan Islam (Supremacy of Malays and Islam) are increasingly being declared publicly and unapologetically in the media.

However, the modern world no longer finds acceptable any talk of racial and religious supremacy – not after the appalling consequences of supremacist ideologies in recent history. Continue reading “The Dhimmi Syndrome: The Psychological Degradation of the Oppressed”

Declaration of Malaysia as Islamic Country

At the recent Parti Gerakan Conference, the Prime Minister made a declaration that Malaysia is now an Islamic country. In the wake of the declaration came confusion which easily erodes social consensus.

Declaration of Malaysia as Islamic Country

Ng Kam Weng

At the recent Parti Gerakan Conference, the Prime Minister made a declaration that Malaysia is now an Islamic country. In the wake of the declaration came confusion which easily erodes social consensus.

On the one hand, one may interpret the Prime Minister’s declaration in liberal terms, based on the Prime Minister’s statement that “non-Muslims have the right to consider Malaysia as a secular nation, but UMNO viewed Malaysia as having satisfied enough conditions to call itself an Islamic country” (STAR 1 Oct 2001). The Prime Minister, however, stressed that there was no need for the issue to be tabled in Parliament since there was no need for amendments to the Federal Constitution. The libertarian interpretation expressed by the Prime Minister was perhaps sufficient to persuade the other component parties in the government coalition to endorse the new concept from the Prime Minister. Continue reading “Declaration of Malaysia as Islamic Country”