Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Muslims in Singapore have been doing, publicly, what needs to be done everywhere. They are looking inside and talking about what is wrong and what needs to be done and what they can do to confront the extremists within.

As shown in the White Paper, Ibrahim Maidin and his JI members attended religious classes like other Muslim Singaporeans would do. But slowly over time and for a select group of members, the JI ideology gets introduced.

Having taken the oath of allegiance, the JI ideology of violence, hatred and extremism was never challenged by anyone in the group.

If we as a community allow intolerant and extremist views and ideas to go unchallenged, then we inadvertently allow such views to take root here. If we allow myopic, extreme and radical views to go unchallenged, even if they do not advocate violence, then we inadvertently provide a conducive environment for the growth of intolerance and a rigid fundamentalist orientation to life. Just like the fundamentalist groups who reject every thing Western without a clear understanding, we find today such thinking permeating the Muslim mind in a variety of ways.

Articles and journals that present the West as the great evil of modern society and present alternatives, on matters such as politics and economics, couched in religious terms as the absolute truth reflect the fundamentalist traits. But these articles get published while those with a more rationalist interpretation are blocked.

Our challenge, as has been suggested by several Muslim and non-Muslim scholars, is for the moderates to speak up. I know the term moderate is loaded with meaning. But it must be so.

The best safeguard we can put in place is to allow a diversity of views and opinions to emerge. Muslims all over the world will never have disputes on the fundamental principles of Islam such as the oneness of God, the Prophecy of Muhammad, the five daily prayers, the payment of wealth tax, and fasting. But in the way we order our lives, cherish our women, organise our religious life, exist in a multi-religious society, educate our young, and so on, there can be differences. Of course, the diversity cannot be unlimited. Certainly if some advocate violence as a basis of their struggle, then we must all condemn it.

< email | 1/23/2003 01:25:00 PM | link

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