The fear of perceived Salafist Islamisation in national schools by the non-Malay Muslim society, particularly the ethnic Chinese has the potential to split the country apart, political analyst and Muslim scholar Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid said today.
Speaking as a guest lecturer at Sunway University today, Ahmad Fauzi said that isolating Malaysians by different ethnicities and religions as they grow up will create a pre-conceived and ignorant perception of “The Other”, a term he used to describe persons who do not share the same faith.
He pointed out that once these youths are isolated and lack the opportunity to mingle with other races and gain greater understanding of one another in schools, they will begin to conceptualise “The Other” as antagonists or enemies who will attempt to subvert their beliefs.
“If these children are only taught by teachers who grew up being indoctrinated by Salafist ideals, then that will be the only thing that they will know. It becomes worse if the only literature they have available are extremist literatures.
“It will influence their subconscious mentality where they view ‘The Other’ as an antagonist and it might encourage them to start taking violent steps especially if they only understand those verses regarding Jihad and are not aware of other interpretations,” Ahmad Fauzi told Malay Mail Online after giving his lecture titled “The Very Shades of Islam and Islamists in Malaysia”.
Salafism, also called Wahhabism, is an orthodox and fundamental Islamic “reform movement” to restore what it sees as “pure” Islamic worship, and named after 18th century preacher and scholar Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.
The movement’s dominance grew across the world starting from the 1970s as oil-rich Saudi Arabia pumped money into its spread through books, scholarships, and building Islamic education institutions.
The Universiti Sains Malaysia professor touched on the topic after a member of the public asked him to comment on the fact that many Chinese parents are reluctant to send their children to national schools and what can be done to mitigate the issue.
Ahmad Fauzi said it would be a daunting task to handle as he believed that many teachers, civil servants and industry captains in their 20s and 30s grew up after Salafist discourse crept into the Malaysian education system in the mid-1990s.
“Bear this in mind teachers are in their 20s and 30s and they have lived through a system which teaches Islam through a particular mould, especially when Salafi-based discourse emerged in our curriculum around 1995 and 1996,” he said, adding that it would be very difficult to change the mindset of folks who refused to keep an open mind due to siege mentality.
Ahmad Fauzi also lambasted many Islamists who have hijacked the religion for their “secular political purposes” as they equate Islamism, which is a political ideal to create an Islamic state, to Islam as a religion.
He said that Islam, in its traditional spiritual form allows for its practitioners to commit sins and their recourse is to repent, whereas Islamism does not allow any Muslims to commit any sins and the result is being punished by the State.
“We will face pitfalls if Islamism is established. People are naturally tempted to commit sins. People are not angels and are not perfect. An Islamic state will force people to become pious and it becomes a question of compulsion rather than voluntary. This is the ISIS discourse,” he said, referring to the terror group also called Islamic State.
One of the worse case scenarios that would erupt from this situation would be the abandonment of Islam as a religion by those with lax faith.
“For Muslims, it appears as if there is no choice. We know some Muslims who want to remain Muslims but have very lax lifestyle and children not educated with Islamic norms, the role of the state is the best to maintain their Islamicity.
“But once you enforce the Islamists’ worldview on people, wanting them to behave in a certain manner, you are encouraging people to leave Islam. They won’t do it here, but they will do it outside the country,” he said.
Source: The Malaymail online