Fight bigotry with all our might — Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos (6.1.16)

Datuk Jabar 3

Now, really, where is that courageous Malaysian leader who has the vision and fortitude to move this nation forward as one nation — not a nation fragmented into ethnic, religious or economic classes? Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak presented his 1Malaysia policy with a huge potential to truly unite this nation towards greatness but where is the impact and the “umpphh”?

It is dangerously comical that after 50-over years of independence achieved by the multi-racial front and celebrated by all the citizens of this blessed nation, we still hear the most bigoted and racist statements being made by supposedly educated people. I recently read that an NGO, which unfortunately is identified with Islam, allegedly made a statement: “The Chinese entered this country together with the British invaders as intruders. Who gave them citizenship and wealth until their intrusion is protected until today?”

If this was indeed uttered, why would anyone who is a Muslim and a citizen of this country want to make a statement like this?

I cannot see such statements helping to foster national unity nor present the compassionate and intelligent face of Islam. On the contrary, I find such a statement completely inconsistent with the principles taught by Allah in the Quran. Any Muslim who knows his Quran knows we are all descendants of Prophet Adam, the fact of diversity of ethnicity, culture and languages are signs of Allah and it is so willed by Allah as a blessing for us to learn from each other, not to hate and discriminate against each other. It is for this reason I have often said sometimes an ignorant and mala fide professed Muslim is more dangerous to the image of Islam then a professed non-Muslim.

I see the Quran teaches us to go beyond our prejudices, ego, tribalistic tendencies and to embrace humankind so we can invite everyone to a peaceful, just and righteous way of life. I keep arguing with anyone I meet the Quran is indeed a revolutionary “universal document” way ahead of its time. Nowhere in the Quran does it teach us to stoke sensitivities deliberately and maliciously with the aim of causing discord and enmity between human beings. Clearly, this is the work of Satan and those who have a warped idea of humanity. I keep asking, can a normal human being who surely wants Allah to keep his family safe and happy wish for misfortune towards other families?

If we understand the history of the human species, we should know we are all immigrants of sorts. We find a place and make a home and sometimes we or some of our family members migrate elsewhere. The Quran is explicitly clear that Allah encourages those who are oppressed or live under an oppressive regime to migrate. The main point is the entire universe belongs to Allah and it is not open to a Muslim to deny another human being his right to Allah’s mercy and blessings. The Quran says this clearly: “When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: “In what (plight) were you?”; they reply: “Weak and oppressed were we in the earth.”; they say: “Was not the earth of God spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (from evil)?” Such men will find their abode in Hell. What an evil refuge!”  (04:97)

Hence, a Muslim who knows his Quran will be the last person to make the migration of people an issue and the first to champion and emphatise with the plight of immigrants and refugees. It is highly satanic and ungrateful of a person who has been blessed with a home and a country to now stoop to his basic desires to question other ethnicities’ right to Allah’s mercy and design.

Such bigotry, racist and extreme statements also expose a total lack of understanding of the constitutional framework of the country and, the rights and status of citizens. Every citizen is a citizen of the country with equal rights as provided for under the law. Our Constitution not only accords every citizen clear rights but it also protects them. It does not matter where you or your parents are born. Once you are a citizen, you have sworn allegiance to this country and you are governed by the laws of the land and protected by the Constitution. Hence, it is not open to any citizen to question the loyalty or the citizenship of anyone save in accordance with the law.   

It was also for this reason I found the primitive politics of questioning our Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s ancestry and origin from Indonesia extremely distasteful and ignorant. This shows total ignorance of the Constitution and laws of the country by those who are being idiotically distasteful. Further, it also tries to overshadow and sidetrack Zahid’s numerous contributions as a responsible citizen.  Even in politics, one should try to have some class and not be crass.

The people, especially the Muslims, have to say enough is enough of such baseless, dangerous and divisive narratives  when such statements are being made on so-called “Muslim” platforms. Let us keep repeating the reality on the ground. There are Malaysians from different ethnicities and religious background who are poor and trying very hard to survive in this nation with the rising costs of living. There are Malaysians from different ethnicities and religious background who serve this nation well. As a lawyer who practises criminal law, I know the prisons are colour blind and have convicts from various religious and ethnic backgrounds. We are all Malaysians subject to Malaysian laws. This is our home and we have to protect it, sometimes from our own misguided citizens.

That’s the fact and we should quickly learn to deal with it.

* Jahaberdeen is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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