(Mingguan Malaysia, 17 January)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.
When my article was not published in the newspaper last week, many readers wondered why I did not write, what had happened? I am touched with their questions. I did not expect that my humble writings received that much attention. This humility had made me realized and grateful for the blessings provided by God in this prosperous land.
All these while, I had patiently faced the condemning and criticize from those who were not agreeable with my writings. Some even prayed that I hasten my death and end up in hell. The extremist listed me in the registration book of death. Alhamdulillah, I still have the strength to face these challenges and pressures. I value friends of the same faith who provided me the encouragement and strength to continue my writings and not to fear with the threats and warnings.
If we are too afraid with humans, where are our confidence to Allah SWT? All these reminded me on the real meanings of Islam. If all these while I had to face the slandering and defamation from the day I embraced Islam until today, why must I be doubtful now? I have not done any great sins or any evil. I only wish to create the awareness among friends of the same faith that not to be complacent and to rise up defending this holy religion, and not allowing it to be taken advantaged. Is it a betrayal to my own race? Shouldn't my descendants be appreciated for my actions?
I leave it to the fate to be determined by Allah SWT. Nothing in this life is more important than to get HIS blessings. HE created mankind, and therefore HE also determines the time of our death.
I was blacklisted and accused for being a hypocrite because of sending my children to the vernacular school. Can't they understand what I had written? I had repeatedly stated in my writings before this that my children studied in the vernacular schools and I have never denied that. Those hypocrites were those that do not read my entire articles. They only take the negatives and then manipulated the sentence so that I would be hated, admonished and humiliated. This provocation by the ultra kiasu is very dangerous in the Malaysia politics. They will continue to look for opportunities for political gains and mileage, by way of sympathizing which is a timid way of obtaining power.
Honestly, my children have a good background in the Malay language (BM). They have never failed in the BM, and did not enter the transition class after completing primary school. Therefore, was it wrong for me to enroll my children into the vernacular school as long when they still exist in the education system? In fact, I even suggested that if the vernacular schools continue to be established, then it would be better for the Malays to study in the vernacular schools, while the non-Malays should study in the national schools. This is for the purpose that the Malays can master the language of the non Malays, while the non-Malays are able to communicate in Malay proficiently. Isn't this much fairer and will achieve national unity? Whichever, this will not happen.
Furthermore, by sending my children to the vernacular schools, at least I practiced what I preached. Writing based on facts and reality. Otherwise, I would not be practicing what I am preaching. I do not want to feel enthralled with myself or merely theorizing. When my children were there, it means that I am aware of the development and what was happening in the school. If there are issues that I have raised about the vernacular schools which are not correct, please get them corrected, but do not resort to personal attacks until to the extent my parents and ancestors not at fault were scolded; from those presently alive to those who had already been dead.
To the followers of my writings, the theme is closely related to the development of race in a country where its nation empowered Islam as the federal religion. I did not see what I had written is wrong. I prefer to be straight forward. If it is not true, let us debate academically rather than being critical.
So far we had been talking about the freedom to speak or freedom of speech. Do we respect the freedom of speech? Sometimes I ponder whether the freedom of speech will be provided openly if the ultra kiasu rules. I am just giving a different opinion, can't I? Do not simply accuse others for not being democratic. When embarrassed due to own doings, is it true that we are practicing democracy fully? If the racist newspapers can write freely on whatever they think, why can't I? What advantages that they have, and what am I lacking? Do not ridicule your own selves.
What is freedom of speech? Freedom of speech does not mean that we can speak anything we like without any considerations. Freedom of speech is to present arguments that can be of beneficial to others. Encourage others to be thoughtful rather than to be rigid and narrow minded.
It is immoral when we disputed something that has become the rights of a race, especially if it had already been written in the constitution. We are very sad when there is a small group which was ungrateful had disputed the Islamic way of life, while the Muslims had never disputed their way of life such as building houses of worship as one pleases without permits and licenses, even under the trees and along-side the road.
Islam took the approach of respecting the human rights of every person. Among the rights are the rights to live, the rights to accumulate and possess wealth, the rights to be independent without any hindrances, the rights to travel, the rights over children, the rights for justice, the rights on dignity and respect on a person, equal rights under the laws and so forth. All these freedom are subject to the balance of living in a nation.
Let us not be confused with the freedom professed by the West. The West declared that every individual has the freedom to do anything according to their heart and soul even though it may conflict with the needs of religion and against the noble humanitarian values. Take an example, marriage with the same sex. Today they began to realize that absolute freedom destroyed them. Even former U.S. President, George Bush urged the West to return to Christianity. Human rights which are in conflict with religion must be abandoned. What is so puzzling is that when the West had become aware and had admitted their mistake and their downfall, why are we in the East busy discussing on the absolute freedom which ruined the West?
Since the beginning, Islam had guaranteed human freedom in accordance with the physics of the human nature itself. Reminder; the physics of the human nature is subject to the laws of the Creator. Because of this, we object a Muslim to have the freedom to convert to other religions freely. Professing the Shahada by Muslim is the testimony of a seal on a pledge or agreement made between God and HIS slave. Pledge and agreement are compulsory to be fulfilled, and anyone who apostates mean that the person has violated the agreement. As such they deserve to be punished because the freedom has been abused.
The freedom allowed is the freedom to provide opinions, ideas, reprimanding and constructive criticism to the related party. This freedom includes freedom of the press and the Internet which disseminate accurate information to the public, rather than news that is not true, slandering, obscene and abusive words, reports that are not benefitting or publishing photos disgracing other people.
Let us not debate claiming that we pay more income tax and therefore we are free to do and get anything without any restrictions. Tax paid will appropriately be distributed. Have we not realized that our taxes paid were used to provide security, peace and stability? Value this peace for allowing us to accumulate and make lots of money. Who are actually benefiting from the value of this peacefulness? Value this and don't be too ultra kiasu.
My blog was horribly condemned, cursed, abused and have I ever replied with matching words? I am willing to be treated as such. I have my principles not to be like them. If I were to give the same reactions, what differences would I have compared to them? Should I lower my dignity to their level? It is definitely no. I write based on researches and readings. If you do not agree with me, provide your facts and we can debate. If you want to debate, make it professionally. Do not invite me for a debate in a place full of ultra kiasu. Don't be too emotional until destroying own selves. These types of attitude will thwart away the national development. I have never invited them to visit and read my blog. They are free to access any sites or a thousand other blogs, especially the ultra kiasu sites and blogs. Go and read and comment as much as you can, I have never forbid. Isn't that we called freedom?
Today we should ask what can we contribute to the country instead of asking what can the country give to us when we pay income tax. I am confident that those who spoke so much had not paid much tax. Large companies that paid taxes actually appreciate the security provided, although undeniable that there were a few who escaped and took the money out to invest abroad. There were also those who surrendered their citizenship and become citizens in other countries. We do not need to feel regret, because such people can be considered non existing, for even if they exist, they will be burdensome.
Only those insane will acknowledge absolute freedom. Absolute freedom does not actually exist in a civilized human life. I remembered the words of Dr Carmen Lawrence (2006); " depends not on our capacity to hit back at the terrorists, but on our capacity to think for ourselves."
Therefore, do not be surprised that if Muslims come forward to defend their rights because it is in the scope of freedom. Freedom means in defending the dignity and the rights respectively. Rasulullah SAW stated, which means: "Whoever was killed in defense of his wealth is a martyr, killed in defense of his dignity is a martyr, killed in defense of his religion is a martyr and killed in defense of his family is a martyr." (Hadith narrated by Abu Daud, Nasa'i and Tirmizi)
Absolute freedom does not actually exist in a civilized society because civilized society is a society that is controlled by the system, rules and laws. Those who make their desires as a guide are not a free society, but are a lost society, forever lost. There must be a limit to freedom. For the Muslims, freedom is guided by the Quran and Sunnah. Meanwhile the non-Muslims based their freedom on their spiritual books respectively. In the context of a living nation, the constitution is a guide to the meaning of freedom. Thus, refer to the constitution if there are problems and conflicts. If we are interpreting the constitution following our own interests and desires, then the consequences will be bad.