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Sunday, 11 May 2008

What is Islam?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I attended a dinner a few weeks ago and amongst the 30 or 40 in attendance was one MCA chap who admitted he had contested the general election twice but lost on both counts. If he had contested the recent election he would have made it a perfect score of three. As they say in the US, three times and you’re out.

The host asked me to say a few words, which I did, and this was followed by a questions and answers session. Amongst the questions was one posed by the MCA chap. He wanted to know if I am still a Muslim as what I write gives an impression I have left Islam.

I noticed that the host was a bit uncomfortable. He said that that is a very personal question and added they should refrain from posing personal questions. He then turned to me and said I need not reply if I did not wish to do so. But I did wish to reply and I did.

I do not blame this MCA chap for asking me that. Being Chinese and a non-Muslim he probably does not understand what Islam is all about. In fact, many Muslims themselves do not understand Islam and to them Islam is merely the five rukun or rituals that all Muslims must perform to get ‘confirmed’ as a Muslim.

Rituals, however, are just that, rituals. These are what Muslims would call fardu ain. You acknowledge in your heart and on your lips that there is no God but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, you pray five times a day, you pay your tithes (zakat and fitrah), you fast 29-30 days in a year during the month of Ramadhan, and you go Mekah at least once in your lifetime to perform your pilgrimage or Haj if you are able to (health-wise, finance-wise, and if it poses no danger to your safety and security and you are not barred from leaving your home).

Doing these five things would make you a Muslim but only as far as performing the rituals are concerned. Whether you are truly a Muslim at heart or just a ‘show’ Muslim would be subject to whether you really have faith or akidah. And akidah can never be in the rituals you perform. It has to be something that rests in your head and lies in your heart. Which means you have no control over akidah. Either you have it or you don’t. You can’t ‘perform’ akidah like you can your prayers, fasting, Haj, and so on.

The akidah part is where most Muslims fail. They could be doing more than just fast 29-30 days a year but be fasting on the optional days as well. They could be praying more than just five times a day but be performing the optional prayers as well. They could be going to Mekah every year with the ‘small Haj’ or Umrah thrown in between that. And they could be paying more than just the 2.5% tithe but be giving sedekah (donations) to all forms of charity and causes. But if they don’t have akidah then they are not Muslims. And many Muslims are merely ‘show’ Muslims but not really Muslims at heart.

Uttering on your lips that there is no God but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God is easy. Even believing that is not difficult. Praying five times a day and fasting 30 days or more a year is also not difficult. In fact, it may actually be quite healthy if you are not diabetic or suffer from gastric. And paying a lot of money by way of tithes and by donating to various charities plus going to Mekah every year is also no problem if you are rich. However, beyond this, most Muslims fail miserably.

How many Muslims would believe in and accept God’s will? They would believe in God and believe that God owns all and decides all but they find great difficulty in believing in and accepting God’s will. Of course, every Muslim will say that man proposes but God disposes. But do they really believe this? And can they accept this? Sad to say, most would not.

I received a phone call early this morning saying that the police have contacted YB William Leong to inform him they will be taking me in today. It was not made clear whether it would be to take my statement, which they failed to get from me last Friday, or whether I am to be detained or charged. Nevertheless, I am on standby, waiting for them to phone me to ‘surrender’ myself to Bukit Aman, or for them to come to my house to arrest me. Either way I am waiting and am quite prepared for the prospect that this may be my last article for quite some time to come.

Whatever it may be, one thing is very clear in my mind. This is God’s will and if I am to suffer a fate of long detention then this is what God has willed for me. And I will submit to God’s will for does not Islam mean submission?

Yes, Islam is not about rituals. Islam is not about ‘showing’ you are a true Muslim by performing rituals. Islam is about submission and there can be no submission unless you are able to and prepared to submit to God’s will. Not doing so would mean that you have no submission in your heart and therefore would not be a Muslim at heart.

Thus far I have only mentioned fardu ain, the rituals that a Muslim needs to perform. But Islam is more than just fardu ain. There is another fardu called fardu kifayah. And fardu kifayah is mandatory upon all Muslims. But fardu kifayah is not about rituals. It is about doing your duty to the community. And one of the most important tasks a Muslim must perform for his community is to oppose all forms of evil or kemunkaran.

And that is what I perform under the mandatory fardu kifayah. I oppose evil. But the government calls it sedition. And for my ‘crime’ of sedition they would like to send me to jail. I would not like to go to jail for grabbing the backside of a cigar girl. I would not like to go to jail for raping an underage girl. I would not like to go to jail for murdering a Mongolian woman. I would not like to go to jail for robbing the nation. But I would enjoy going to jail for fulfilling my duty as a true Muslim under the mandatory fardu kifayah. So I await jail with glee in my heart.

I know the order from ‘the top’ is to put me out of action. The powers-that-be is of the opinion that the ruling party suffered a licking in the 8 March 2008 general election because they lost the media war and that Malaysia Today is one of the contributors. So, by putting me away would mean that Malaysia Today would be rendered impotent. This is what they believe. And they also believe that by taking me in, probably later today, this would solve the problems of the ruling party.

There is one thing the powers-that-be appears to have overlooked. And this is because they are merely Muslims by ritual and not Muslims at heart. And what they have overlooked is that nothing can happen without God’s will. But why would God will that I get taken in? Only God would know the answer to this question. The Lord, as we all know, moves in mysterious ways. God knows what He is doing. We must therefore look at the big picture. And the big picture would become clearer as time goes on.

So let us wait to see what happens today, that is if anything is going to happen. And if the police do like what they told YB William Leong they are going to do, then we must accept that this is what God wanted them to do. And as for the reason why God wanted them to do this will unravel in time. Whatever it may be, God is not frivolous. God does not do things for no reason. God always does things with a purpose in mind. So we must go along with God’s grand plan because God has said in the Holy Book that he is the greatest schemer of all and mankind can never be a greater schemer than Him.

So I await the arrival of the police or for the phone call for me to come surrender myself to Bukit Aman. And when that happens I will do what is required of me and not question God’s wisdom. For I am not a Muslim by way of mere rituals but a Muslim at heart. It is from God we came and to God we shall return. And everything that happens in-between is part of God’s grand plan.

Yes, performing rituals is easy. A ‘show’ Muslim is not hard to emulate. But a true Muslim at heart is what Islam is all about. And I would like to be that type of Muslim who surrenders to God’s will with gratitude in my heart and faith in that whatever befalls me is always for a reason and part of God’s plan that has been determined long before I came into the world midnight of 27 September 1950 in the Year of the Tiger.

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