Islamic Movement and Dakwah in Malaysia

This is actually my assignment for halaqah 2 in IIUM. I try to be unbiased, but at the end it will still be influenced by my opinion. You can comment below but please be… at least try to be… civilized. 

Assalamualaikum. The term “islamic movement” has a broad meaning. If we just google term “islamic movement” of course, we will most likely to encounter article about terrorism. Such situation is quite sad as the reason why most islamic country are weak right now are because they have been colonized by the west countries and after the world war 2 most country gain independance but the islamic institution has been lost. Most of the newer government is a more secular government or even dictatorship. Whether this new form of government is good or bad, that depends on people views. Regardless, one thing remain true, the Muslim has so far did not achieve the same state as we were at The Golden Muslim age.
In according to that, some peoples has form groups that aims to relive the age Khalifah. Most of them are politically based, having their objective is to first, change the government and implement the Syariah law. But whether these people are right in their way or have they gone astray remains to be debated. Because of that, for the purpose of this discussion, we will try focus on the Islamic Movement that focuses on dakwah and we make a special focus in Malaysia as the writer of this article is a Malaysian. To put the situation into perspective, years ago, during my mother’s childhood (which is about 1960) malay girls went to school wearing skirt. Nowaday, female student wear “baju kurung”, with hijab, and even most Chinese wear baju kurung (but no hijab).
The term “dakwah” is an arabic term that refer to missionary activity. The term also refer to the act of renewing commitment to Islam. In Malaysia, the rise of Islamic movement were inspired by several event such as global Islamic movement and also the racial riot at 13 march 1969. At that time, even though the majority and also the original ethnic of Malaysia is Malay (and also the indigenous like Kadazan and etc), Malay own only about 2.7% (some say 6%) of the country’s wealth. Nowaday, the malay have control of about 18% to 30% of the economy. The difference in economic causes tension between the Malay and the Chinese. The tension was escalated even more when the Chinese majority Singapore separate itself from Malaysia at the year 1968.
The racial riot was started when the Chinese majority party the Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) won the election and they were having celebratory march. The tension break when they divert from their original route to a Malay populated village, causing massive fight between two party. A reported 168 live was lost, although foreign media said that the casualty amount to 2 thousands lives. From that moment on, many changes to the government and society were made that aim to improve live of Malay and indirectly Islam in order to balance the Chinese-Malay economy. Among the most popular society that was created from the incidence is ABIM.
ABIM is Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia or in english, Malaysian Muslim Youth Pact. ABIM was formed at University Kebangsaan Malaysia by a group of student in order to take care of the welfare of the Muslims. ABIM is officially a non-political society that take neutral stance in politic. Allthough neutral, ABIM is considerably vocal towards the government policy under the leadership of it’s first and second president, Ustaz Razali Nawawi dan Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim. This contribute highly to its popularity. In 1982, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim joined UMNO (United Malaya National Organization), the ruling political party back from independence until now. That move was highly criticized as ABIM is a non-political party. At the very same year a new president was appointed, and ABIM take a less vocal attitude and focus more on solving issues. From then on, ABIM popularity had decreases.
Another society, PERKIM has a similar objective. PERKIM was founded by Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister. PERKIM means, Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia, or in english, Malaysian islamic welfare organization. PERKIM is among the most prominent islamic society in Malaysia today. Although PERKIM’s aim is to provide welfare to all muslim in Malaysia, it’s main focus is probably towards new muslim. PERKIM has been known to provide support for new muslim in terms of education, moral and physical. This focus on new muslim can be seen on it’s main website which feature Chinese text. PERKIM is a non government organization, but it is generally funded by the government through government official including the prime minister himself. Even so, PERKIM has been known to be politically neutral or passive. The government had also funded YADIM, Yayasan Dakwah Islam Malaysia or Malaysian Islamic Dakwah Society that officially focuses on Dakwah towards the non muslim. YADIM is actually an organization that aims to unite different dakwah activity around the country.
In 1990, PAS won the state election in Kelantan which was previously held by UMNO. PAS, Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party was founded before the independence and even take part in it. Allthough the majority of PAS member is Malay, the official member requirement of PAS is the person must be a Muslim. The winning of PAS in Kelantan mark give a new hope for muslim to form an Islamic State. PAS is known to be among the party (or the only party) that demand full sharia law to be implemented . PAS is also the first party to put an ulama’ as the State Chief Minister. Although PAS has rule over Kelantan for more than two decade now, the result is still questionable. Kelantan is currently reported to have the highest unemployment rate in Malaysia, although they could argue that most graduate from Kelantan involve in business therefore not officially employed. Kelantan people has also been criticized as among those who has little manner and more extreme in comparison to other people. Such sentiment is visualized by a local movie “Aku Anak Kelantan” which tell a story about a Kelantan youth migrate to Kuala Lumpur and become a gangster. PAS members are also known to be somewhat extreme in their view of other political party’s member partcularly UMNO members. The Opposition said that most of the sentiment and report were fabricated by the Government media. They Opposition also mention that they cannot fully implement Islamic law, as state government only hold little power and the central government abuse the law to reduce the power of Kelantan state government in various way, such as the oil royalty issue. Among other critical comment on PAS is some member of PAS have connection with Shia, Al-Arqam and also Pluralism. On the plus side, Kelantan is known to be the base and funding of multiple Madrasah and Pondok. Since the rule of PAS in Kelantan many liquer store and movie theater has been said to be closed.
The racial raid of 1969 also cause several educational reform that is biased toward Malay. Some of it indirectly benefit the Muslim community such as the building of the IIUM, International Islamic University Malaysia and also USIM, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia ( Malaysian Islamic Science University ). Some people argue that the building of these University and also many other islamic program are just to gain the support of the people. The racial raid of 1969 also cause the government to issue a law in which every public university in Malaysia must have a certain ratio of malay. Regardless of the reason politically motivated or not, the formation of islamic public university and also the public university quota law has indeed improve the live of malay and open up discussion about Islam. Due to that islamic education has flourished and the people are starting to recognize the different between Malay culture and Islam.
Around the year 1980, the industrial sector of Malaysian was developing at a rapid pace and therefore demand more worker. Because of that, many Malay migrate to the city. Unfortunately, Islamic institution on the urban area was very scarce and that cause problem to pray and do other ceremony. To compensate for that, some muslim form groups that aim to help each other spiritually with activities such as halaqah and the occational talk. Among those notable groups are Al-Arqam and Jamaah Tabligh. Al-Arqam is a non-political group that aim to relive the live of the four Khalifah but now declared a deviated teching. Al-Arqam started as a group of Malay who gather money from themselve, then they buy lands, live there, plant vegetables and aim to provide environment close the the day of Khalifah. They were declared as deviated at the time of Mahathir Mohamed. Their leader were jailed under ISA (Internal Security Act) but released when ISA was disbanded. Because of that, nowaday we see the rise of Al-Arqam teaching. Among the teaching of Al-Arqam are, they belive Ali was suppose to be the successor of Muhammad SAW ( but they differ from Shia because they have no 12 imam ), claim their leader get spiritiual enlightenment from Imam Mahdi, and Imam Mahdi will come to Malaysia at the year 2011 from Mekah to make an Islamic state. Clearly Imam Mahdi have not arrived yet, and I doubt Malaysia is his destination.
Jamaah Tabligh on the other hand is a global Islamic dakwah movement. Its is probably the most widespread islamic movement in the world although the actual number cannot be verified due to the very informal nature of the movement. Jamaah tabligh was founded at 1926 in india by Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi. It has its own practice that in a sense it is another sect of Islam. Jamaah Tabligh is a non political party and has always been so. They believe that in order to change the community / government we first need to change the individual. Member of Jamaah Tabligh will “go out” to various mosque to practice dakwah. There, they basically read hadith, remind each other of the sunnah and go around the mosque to ask people to come to the mosque for a talk in which they basically talk about iman. Jamaah Tabligh tend to go out for 3 week, 7 day, 40 day or 4 month. They fund themselves and have no registration or membership fees or any formal ties. Jamaah tabligh only preach to muslim. They do not preach to non muslim. Some people even claim that Jamaah Tabligh is against preaching to non-muslim. Various organization had accuse Jamaah Tabligh to fabricate hadith and their practice is wrong. Some criticize them up to extend in which they say Jamaah Tabligh is deviated. These criticizing people are most probably from a political party, as Jamaah Tabligh do not support any political agenda.
Sources:
Sylva Frisk(2009), Submitting to God: Women and Islam in Urban Malaysia.
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