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Friday, February 02, 2007

ISLAM as my RELIGION.

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I have CHOOSEN ISLAM as my lifetime religion. I choose to be a Muslim, after searching for a Religion for years and upon the realization that ISLAM is very consistent with my way of life since young although I am not born into a Muslim family.
I CHOOSE to be a MUSLIM, after learning the religion indepth each day for 2 years everyday at PERKIM (PERSATUAN KEBANGSAAN ISLAM MALAYSIA).
I was extremely blessed as my knowledge of ISLAM was gained under the most PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE of two of my teachers, a late HONG KONG CHINESE convert and a CAMBODIAN convert, both taught me so much that I even used what I have learned from them in enforcing Islamic teachings and ways of living as a Muslim, to both my daughters.
I RESPECT ALL RELIGION and PHILOSOPHIES OF VARIOUS THOUGHTS as I am first a very SPIRITUAL person. I TOTALLY BELIEVE IN GOD and as I have taken my Islamic PLEGE, “THERE IS NO GOD EXCEPT ALLAH S.W.T and PROPHET MUHAMMAD is HIS MESSENGER”, hence my GOD is ALLAH S.W.T.
I have been SEARCHING for a RELIGION, when I REALIZED that I really do not have any religious foundation as my late father and the rest of my other family members are actually TAOIST.
My IDOL, my late father is a very good example of a good Muslim, although at that time, he was more a Taoist.
Taoism is a PHILOSOPHY, some even say it is a MYTHOLOGY but I will one day speak about my own experience via Taoism but not today.
Today, as we, Muslims , around the world has just enter a new year, Islamic New YEAR OF 1428 HIJRAH, I would just like to put up a piece about ISLAM.
Has ISLAM changed
my life to the better? YES
Has being a CHINESE MUSLIM
been CHALLENGING? YES
Have I any REGRET at any one time now that I am a Muslim? Never

Am I GOOD MUSLIM? ONLY ALLAH S.W.T WILL KNOW BEST!


There are so many more QUESTIONS that we can go through, but , I can firmly said that , ever since I have been a MUSLIM, I have been a more TOLERANT and OPEN MINDED yet since I have been brought up in a very STRICT CANTONESE (one of many Chinese clans) manner, I found that ISLAM even make me understand the NECESSITIES in the LOGIC to be A FIRM BELIEVER IN ALL MY CORE BELIEFS and although I may be considered by some a “MODERN MUSLIM”, I AM NOT.
I am actually a very CONSERVATIVE person, but , being a CONVERT, I TRUST that ISLAM, BEING A VERY TOLERANT AND MODERATE RELIGION, will also ENCOURAGE such THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIOURS ,ESPECIALLY amongst HIS HUMBLE SERVANTS.
Hence, I AM NOT A MODERN MUSLIM, I am just a NORMAL MUSLIM, just trying VERY HARD to be a GOOD MUSLIM, by being a MODERATE MUSLIM.
I know it is VERY BELATED but my family and I, will like to take this GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY to say,
HAVE A WONDERFUL
AND BLESSED 1429 HIJRAH!
Always,
~*~ShAkirA~*~



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Understanding Islam and Muslims

Muslims believe in One, Unique Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the Prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgment and individual accountability for actions; in God’s complete authority over human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of Prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus (peace be upon them). But Allah’s final message to man (the Qur’an), a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through archangel Gabriel.

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The Messenger of Allah
By the time of the Prophet’s death in 11 AH / 632 AD, the whole of Arabian peninsula as well as the southern parts of Palestine and Iraq had been converted to Islam. The Islamic state, which had been born in a part of the town of Madinah in year 1 of the Hijra, had expanded to cover three million square kilometers and was endowed with the financial, military, educational, administrative, judicial and other institutions necessary for its welfare and development.

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Prophet’s Last Khutba
The Last Prophet of Allah said the following words of guidance, addressing the Believers on the occasion of Hajj (pilgrimage):

“O people, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah; say your five daily prayers (Salah); fast during the month of Ramadan; and give your wealth in Zakah; (and) perform Hajj if you can afford to."

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve; an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white man has no superiority over the black man, nor does a black man has any superiority over a white man, except by virtue of piety and good conduct. Know that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves."


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Women in Islam
In the midst of the darkness that engulfed the world, the divine revelation echoed in the wide desert of Arabia with a fresh, noble, and universal message to humanity: “O Mankind, keep your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate (of same kind) and from the twain has spread a multitude of men and women.” (The Qur’an 4:1, this in sum is the real message of equality of the two genders)

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Islam in Malaysia


Islam is the official religion of Malaysia. According to 2004 census figures, approximately 58 percent of the population practiced Islam; 22 percent Buddhism; 10 percent Christianity; 6 percent Hinduism; and 3 percent Confucianism, Taoism, and other traditional Chinese religions. The remainder was accounted for by other faiths, including animism, Sikhism, and Baha'i. [3]. As required by Malaysian law and defined in the Constitution, a Malay would surrender his ethnic status if he were not Muslim. However the reverse is not legally true; one does not legally become a Bumiputra by converting to Islam. Malaysian Muslims are primarily Malays although there are substantial numbers of Indian and Pakistani Muslims and increasing numbers of ethnic Chinese converts. [citation needed]
A number of young Muslims, especially those raised in a more secular or westernized settings are practicing Muslims. They observe the practice of a holy month (Ramadan), when fasting during daylight hours is mandatory, and abstain from pork, they pray five times a day and visit mosques frequently.
At the same time, increasing numbers of Malays are taking the religion more seriously, with the increasing popularity of Islamic financing and the increasing number of girls choosing to wear the tudung or headscarf as evidences.

Islam forms

Sunni Islam

Sunni Islam of the Shafi'i school of thought is the legal form in Malaysia. Other forms of Islam are deemed deviationist. Islam with elements of Shamanism is still common in rural Malaysia. Mosques are an ordinary scene throughout the country and Adhzan, (call to prayer) propagated from minarets are heard 5 times a day. Government bodies and banking institutions are closed for two hours every Friday so that Muslims workers can conduct Jumuah in Mosques. However in certain rural states such as Kelantan the weekends fall on Friday and Saturday instead of Saturday and Sunday.

Islam Hadhari

The term "Islam Hadhari" or progressive Islam has been introduced by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to emphasize the central role of knowledge in Islam. Hard work, honesty, good administration and efficiency are equally valued. It also appeals to Muslims to be "inclusive", tolerant and outward-looking.
Islam Hadhari aims to achieve ten main principles:
1. Faith and piety in Allah
2. A just and trustworthy government
3. A free and independent people
4. Mastery of knowledge
5. Balanced and comprehensive economic development
6. A good quality of life
7. Protection of the rights of minority groups and women
8. Cultural and moral integrity
9. Environment safeguarding
10. Strong defenses
Abdullah Mohd Zain, a minister in the prime minister's department, says, "It emphasizes wisdom, practicality and harmony."[citation needed] He added that "It encourages moderation or a balanced approach to life. Yet it does not stray from the fundamentals of the Quran and the example and sayings of the Prophet."[citation needed]

History

It is commonly held that Islam first exists in Malaysia since the 10th century where the Terengganu Stone Monument was found at Kuala Berang, Terengganu where the first Malay state to receive Islam on 1303 and Sultan Muzaffar Shah I (12th century) of Kedah was the first ruler to be known to convert to Islam. Sultan Megat Iskandar Shah, known as Parameswara prior to his conversion, is the first Melaka Sultan Muslim convert after marrying a princess from Pasai. The conversion of the Sultanate of Malacca to Islam is the milestone of Islamification of Malay people in Malaysia.
The tudung is a relatively recent introduction and was not prominent until the rise of worldwide Islamism in the 1970s. Some commentators have found it jarring to see Malay women donning the tudung and at the same time wearing tight-fitting T-shirts.

Role

Cultural

Islam is central to and dominant in Malay culture. A significant number of words in the Malay vocabulary can trace their origins to Arabic which is the chosen language of Islam. This is, however, not exclusive and words from other cultures such as Portuguese, Chinese, Dutch, Sanskrit, Tamil, English, and French can also be found in the Malay language. Islam is so ingrained in Malay life that Islamic rituals are practised as Malay culture. Muslim and Malays are interchangeble in many daily contexts.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid ul-Fitr) is an important festival celebrated by Malaysian Muslims.
The interpretation of Islam in Malaysia is relatively liberal in contrast to the popular conception of Islamic nations. Muslim women generally wear the tudung (hijab or headscarf) over their heads. These tudungs do not cover the face. Malay women not wearing any head gear are not reprimanded or penalised. Prominent Malaysian female examples are Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, International Trade and Industry Minister and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad. However, with the influx of Arabic travellers, foreign Muslim women (Arabs) wearing hijab that leave only their eyes exposed are often spotted in tourist attractions, not the least at the shopping malls. At certain Malaysian institutions such as the International Islamic University, wearing of the tudung is mandatory; however for non-Muslim students this usually amounts to a loosely worn piece of cloth draped over the back of the head.
The tudung , or the hijab, is a symbol of a Muslim woman. This is such because it represents the modesty of a woman's way, as described by the religion.
Some find the tudung to be an indication of Arabic influence in Malay Muslim culture, and point to other incidents such as the banning of the traditional Malay wayang kulit in the state of Kelantan (which is ruled by the Islamist PAS) for being "un-Islamic". [1]
In general, males and females can mix easily like any other liberal Western countries. However, desiring to expose the body and intimacy such as kissing is still rare among Muslims in public. In conservative states where PAS has more influence, such as Kelantan, different genders are at least theoretically segregated in public places like cinema and supermarket.

Law and politics

As defined by the constitution of Malaysia, Malays must be Muslim, regardless of their ethnic heritage; otherwise, legally, they are not Malay. Consequently, apostate Malays would have to forfeit all their constitutional privileges, including their Bumiputra status, which entitles them to affirmative action policies in university admissions, discounts on purchases of vehicles or real estate, etc. It is legally possible to become a Malay if a non-Malay citizen with a Malaysian parent converts to Islam and thus claim all the Bumiputra privileges granted by Article 153 of the Constitution and the New Economic Policy (NEP), etc. However, the convert must "habitually speak the Malay language" and adhere to Malay culture. A textbook for tertiary Malaysian studies following the government-approved syllabus states: "This explains the fact that when a non-Malay embraces Islam, he is said to masuk Melayu (become a Malay).[citation needed] That person is automatically assumed to be fluent in the Malay language and to be living like a Malay as a result of his close association with the Malays." [2] [citation needed]
Parallel to the civil courts, there are Sharia courts which conduct legal matters related to religious (Islam) and (Muslim) family issues. Legal issues like Muslim divorce and Muslim apostasy are conducted in Sharia Court. Non-Muslims are not affected by this.
Nine of the Malaysian states, namely Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perak, Perlis, Selangor, Johor and Negeri Sembilan have constitutional Malay monarchs (most of them styled as Sultans). These Malay rulers still maintain authority over religious affairs in states. The states of Penang, Malacca, Sarawak and Sabah do not have any sultan, but the nominal kings (Yang di-Pertuan Agong) play the role of heads of Islam in those states as well as the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.
As the religion embraced by the most populous ethnic class of Malaysia, Islam plays an important part in Malaysian politics. Islam is seen by the Malay as a subject which can not be challenged conventionally or constitutionally.
The newest format of the Malaysian Identity Card (MyKad) divides Malaysians into various religious groups, i.e. Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist. The introduction of this card caused an uproar in Malaysian politics and is deemed discriminative by non-Muslims. This issue has, however, since abated and been accepted (although unwillingly) by non-Muslims.
Currently, one of the Malaysia's states, Kelantan, is governed by PAS which is a conservative Islamic political party, with a proclaimed goal of establishing an Islamic state. Terengganu was briefly ruled by PAS from 1999 to 2004, but the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has since won back the state. To counter Islamic fundamentalism as supported by PAS, the head of the Barisan Nasional, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, has proposed Islam Hadhari.
There is also an Islamic university in Malaysia called the International Islamic University Malaysia, and a government institution in charge of organizing pilgrimages to Mecca called Tabung Haji (Pilgrim Fund Board of Malaysia). In addition to this, the government also funds the construction of mosques and suraus. [3]
Although the constitution declares Malaysia to be a secular state, there is much confusion on this subject. Several Muslims have argued, especially after former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad's declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state, that Malaysia is in actual fact an Islamic state. One Member of Parliament (MP), Badruddin bin Amiruldin, has stated in the Dewan Rakyat house of Parliament that "Malaysia ini negara Islam" ("Malaysia is an Islamic state") and that "you tidak suka, you keluar dari Malaysia!" ("You don't like it, you get out of Malaysia!") [citation needed] Badruddin refused to take back his statement, and a motion to refer him to the House Committee of Privileges was rejected by a voice vote. [4] However, the first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, contradicted this stance in the 1980s, saying, "All talk on Islamic States is just an empty dream. No man in his right sense would accept a nation which bases its political administration on religion, and in a country like Malaysia with its multiracial and multireligious people, there is no room for an Islamic State." [3]
Despite the Federal Government's denial that Malaysia is an Islamic state, the present Badawi Administration have gradually furthered the agenda of Islamic supremacy at the expense of other races and religions. The spread of Christianity is a particular sore point for the Muslim majority, and as such, the Government (despite being of a plural composition, but the Malay component, UMNO, always has the final say) typically drags its feet when it comes to approving Churches, and often they will disapprove the setting up of Churches outright. In some cases, they have even resorted to demolishing churches in Muslim-majority areas, and setting up mosques in Muslim-minority areas. The Malaysian government has also persecuted Christian groups who were perceived to be attempting to proselytize to Muslim audiences.
In 2004 and 2005, the Government caused an uproar within the Chinese community by closing down and demolishing some ancient Chinese temples in Chinese-majority areas. In as recent as June 2006[5], the Government has demolished more than 30 Hindu temples in Hindu majority areas. While the non-Muslim public suspects that there is a behind the scene systematic elimination of non-Muslim religious rights in Malaysia by Islamic supremacists within the Government, the Government itself has repeatedly denied this, though they did not apologize for these acts either.
The government has claimed that the need for more churches or temples is not consistent as the current amount of churches and temples are sufficient for the insignificant amount of practitioners of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism in the country. In addition to that, because of expensive land value, the private sector does not want to provide land to build temples and churches as there are already sufficient temples and churches in various areas. Some accounts claim that those who brought the idea of systematic elimination is due to self frustration of the high rate of conversion of non-muslims to Islam in the country over other religions. [6]
At the same time, the Malaysian authorities typically have a pro-Muslim bias when it comes to demographic data, and they also do not justify the construction of mosques in places where it is not needed. Local housing bylaws require that the housing developer construct mosques in every new housing area regardless of the racial and religious demographics. Furthermore, the figures for the rate of conversion to Islam are not very clear as many apostates do not bother registering with the Shariah Court for apostasy (since they are legally not allowed to leave the religion), and instead they just stop being practicing Muslims. Therefore, figures on the Muslim population of Malaysia are generally highly unreliable, as can be seen in the high number of pending apostasy applications (see below).

Apostasy from Islam in Malaysia

In recent years this topic has started to create a debate within Malay society and politics. The most documented case was that of the Sky Kingdom which was seen as the litmus test for religious freedom.
Head of the Malaysian State of Perak Mufti (religious head) Dato' Seri Haji Harussani Haji Zakaria announced that there are about 650,500 Muslim apostates in Malaysia in 2005. This figure includes about 300,000 Malay Muslims who have declared themselves Christians. This announcement was made on a TV Forum entitled "Pekerti Islam" in the Malaysian State of Kedah recently which was aired by RTM (Malaysian TV & Radio Department) in April 2006. Another 300,000 Muslims are in the process of filing for apostasy while the rest are filing to have their Muslim name changed to "other religion name."
"This figure does not include individuals who don't do salat, don't fast, and break all the tenets of Islam", he said. According to the Perak Mufti he has personally received a letter from the American Christian Missionary Association which accuses the Malaysian/Perak religious authorities of being cruel (or mean) for not allowing about 95,000 Malay Muslims to convert to Christianity.
It has been argued that the true number of apostates is much lower, and that the 650,500 figure is an exaggeration. One academic has said that only five hundred Muslims between 1994 and 2003 applied to the Syariah Courts to renounce their status as a Muslim, while about 7500 applied to the National Registration Department (NRD) to change a Muslim name to a non-Muslim one. Reportedly, only five states (Perak, Malacca, Sabah, Terengganu, and Pahang) have made apostasy from Islam a criminal offense.[7] Despite reassurances from the Government that there is hardly any apostasy among Muslims in the country, non-Muslims view this as a denial, and are fully convinced that Muslims who no longer practice Islam do not come out into the open for fear of being condemned by the Muslim community in general and face serious legal actions.[citation needed]

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Islam Hadhari


Islam Hadhari (Arabic الإسلام الحضاري) or "Civilizational Islam" is a theory of government based on the principles of Islam as derived from the Qur'an. It was originally founded by Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1957 (but under a different name), and is now being promoted by the current Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
It consists of 10 fundamental principles.
  • Faith and piety in Allah
  • Just and trustworthy government
  • Freedom and independence to the people
  • Mastery of knowledge
  • Balanced and comprehensive economic development
  • Good quality of life for all
  • Protection of the rights of minority groups and women
  • Cultural and moral integrity
  • Protection of the environment
  • A strong defence policy

Criticism of Islam Hadhari

Redundancy of moderating Islam

Some Muslims believe that Islam is already moderate and encompasses life in every part of this world. To them, extremism exists in the form of misinterpretation and selective interpretation of the Qur'an and the Hadiths. Therefore, the word "Hadhari" is redundant, and may cause the misunderstanding that Islam by itself is not already moderate. However, Islam Hadhari has been welcomed by those who fear that PAS, the main Islamic opposition party in Malaysia is too extreme with its goals.
In June 2006, Mahathir bin Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia prior to Abdullah Badawi, criticised Islam Hadhari with this same opinion. [1]

Redundancy of the term "Hadhari"

Some Muslims also believe that Islam is a religion and philosophy that encompasses all types of lives including developed civilizations. Therefore, the word Hadhari (Civilization) is redundant.

Islam Hadhari as mere government rhetorics

On the other hand, the concept of Islam Hadhari as a moderate doctrine also came into question by examining Article 121 (1A) of the Malaysian Federal Constitution which is against Principle 7 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers which states that access to a lawyer must be granted "promptly" and in any case "not later than forty-eight hours from the time of arrest or detention" [2]. The involvement of several of its academicians in Jemaah Islamiyah and the frequent occurrences of moral policing seem to suggest that Islam Hadhari is mere rhetorics.

Etymology

The Arabic word حضارة ħadāra (from which "Hadhari" is derived) refers to both "civilization" and "settled life" or "sedentariness" (i.e. not being nomadic), so that the term Islam Hadhari implicitly contrasts itself with the Islam of nomads or bedouin.

External links

Official Malaysian Government Websites

Unofficial


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