Year 2020: Charting the transition in Islamic Reformism
Today marks 100 days of the new ABIM leadership mandated during ABIM’s Annual General Meeting on 26-27 October 2019 in conjunction with the Seminar Pembinaan Bangsa Malaysia held at Bangi Avenue Convention Centre.
The new ABIM leadership today is entering a significant decade, navigating the Islamic Reformism in the transition era towards its fifty years of establishment. ABIM was established on 6th of August 1971 and became the earliest Islamic organization in Malaysia carrying the message of the Reformist and Revivalist Imam Hassan Al-Banna- pioneer of Islamic movements in Muslim world history.
At the same time, ABIM had molded a diverse school of thoughts including from local scholars led by Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas, Mohammad Natsir, and Buya Hamka. Syed Naquib’s skills in arts also had a significant influence on ABIM as he was the one who crafted ABIM’s official logo carried by ABIM’s activists until today.
Other renowned scholars like Ismail Raji Faruqi and Al-Qaradhawi also shaped the thoughts of the movement and their works were always referenced and discussed during the weekly usrah.
This openness in intellectual persuasions became the catalyst for ABIM to consistently forge ahead in dealing with changes to ensure that the element of Islamic reformism thrives in its ideas and activism.
Understanding the Islamic Reformism
The Islamic Reformism- or Islah- is not a new topic as debated by some. It has been in existence since the 16th century with the emergence of figures in Southeast Asia with outstanding contributions to reform the society’s culture and worldview. Among these figures was Abdul Raof Singkel, the scholar who held to the principle of recognizing the right of women to be the Sultan in Acheh when the majority of clerics in traditional scholarship back then disapproved.
Other scholars include Nurudin al-Raniri and Sheikh Yusuf Al-Makassari who had enlightened the society in imposing a rational understanding of sufism in Islam and reformed the administrative justice system in their respective states when both were appointed as Muftis.
The movement of Islamic Reformists underwent the second phase in the 18th century as a response to the Western colonisation. This phase witnessed the rise of figures such as Muhammad Abduh, Rashid Ridha, Hassan Al-Banna and the likes with the tagline of Islamic Revival.
These figures had taken a moderate path in responding to colonization by accepting the knowledge and technological advancements as tools to liberate Muslim societies from economical backwardness. At the same time, they lifted the rational thinking in Islamic teachings within the context of systemizing political and social lives and subsequently accepting the parliamentary democracy system as a new system in the Muslim world.
They view colonization in two ways. First, they delicately reviewed the advantages behind colonization in the Muslim world and how those advantages can be fully benefited to lead the Muslims to revive from the period of decline.
At the same time, they acknowledged the need to boost the understanding of Islam through the intensive campaign “Islam as a way of life.”
Within the Malay world context, the establishment of ABIM had a direct link with the agenda of reassertion of the Malay identity and reversion to understanding Islam as a way of life. These agendas were in need given the hundreds of years of Malaya being under the influence of western colonization, the era that was written as “a period of de-Islamization and secularization” by M Rasjidi in “The Role of Christian Mission: The Indonesian Experience” in International Review of Mission.
A similar fact was articulated by Dato’ Dr Siddiq Fadzil, pointing out that “the westernization-secularization of the Malay politics officially began in 1874 with the Treaty of Pangkor which implied a clear dichotomy between religion and politics.”
Thus, ABIM had sparked discussions of the books “Islam & Secularism” and “Islam in the Malay History and Culture” by Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas and some of his ideas later were adopted to the extent of establishing the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and ISTAC.
The existence of Islamic reformism needs to be understood as coming from a strong conviction and belief that Islam as a divine religion encourages the openness in accepting reform. The flourishing number of philosophers in Islamic scholarship from one era of civilization to another clearly illustrated the unrestrained and flexible atmosphere in the Islamic world.
It is thus not the attitude neither the approach of the Islamic Reformist movement to be apologetic towards what the critics perceive Islam or the movement to be- the open environment for discourses purely stemmed from the conviction that Islam champions progress, freedom, justice and human rights.
The transitional idealism of Islamic Movement
Engaging, Islah and Accountable
After a few centuries of having significantly contributed to the Muslim world, the essence of Islamic Reformism should be thoroughly embraced and its relevance preserved by enhancing its contents of core discourse and idealism.
The clash of ideas in certain thoughts in the Islamist Reformism could no longer stand as a theme in its direction. The movement should go beyond the framework of colonial, post-colonial and the dismantling of caliphate in their ideological construct.
Today, the world is now directed to a shared objective of the whole international citizens. This can be seen through Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030 - How human mankind under the name of global brotherhood helps one another to lift the dignity and prestige of human beings without leaving anyone behind.
The question before us now is- how can Islamic Reformism benefit from these shared objectives to bring sustainable development as a solving mechanism to the issues of underdevelopment in Muslim countries?
The discourse of Islah (reform) should be further understood through the reality context, which is tantamount to the need of having ijtihad (legal reasoning) as a guide in facing renewals and changes in a developing society.
In the history of a society's adaptation towards change, clashes between tradition and modernization often took place which eventually held the society back. This was then the objective of Islamic Reformism to be centrist to balance out the differences and find ways to develop a new culture and way of thinking of society instead of remaining stagnant, and carry the society towards progress and keeping pace with the change.
Thus, the agenda to bring islah or revivalism is not restricted within a black-and-white framework nor confrontational in nature, but should be inclusive, bridge-building and appreciate the wide spectrum and multiracial fabric of the society, sharing a sense of ownership with all members of the community.
This includes sharing the aspirations and agenda with all citizens and stakeholders. The collaboration should not be limited only to the activities initiated, but also in terms of objective to bring reform for the betterment of the society.
In the real world today, there are diverse stakeholders who respectively put efforts to contribute to the society. One significant example is the rise of the millennials pulling themselves to become a force in advocating gig economy and climate change issues. The growth of these groups certainly needs engagements and smart collaborations with the Islamic movement.
Besides, the Islamic Reformists should thoroughly commit to the fulfillment of the highest intent of its ideas that is to provide prosperity to the society. The ill habit of carrying ideas without being accountable to the effect of the ideas towards the society should no longer stand.
As such, the concept of political religion should carry a universal intent to provide justice and rights to all human beings, and should not be limited to establishing the “Islamic state” for example. The failure to comprehend the objective of combining politics and religion will expose the religion and power to be manipulated by any regime to persecute and oppress the people under the name of religion.
The same position dealt with the issue of implementing the Syariah- it should be a significant process for the sake of the well-being of the society.
Otherwise, without taking into consideration of these two aspects, we will foresee a recurrence of the Islamist movement problems in the political arena described as “unprepared to govern effectively, transparently, neglecting public policy and a strategic vision of the country” by Fawaz A Gerges in his book “Making The Arab World : Nasser, Qutb, And The Clash That Shaped The Middle East”.
All in all, as what have been highlighted, the Islamic movement, through the Islah (Reformist) principle, together with engagement efforts and a strong sense of accountability can be uplifted and stay relevant in the eyes of the society.
This new transitional way of thinking will enrich the Islamic Reformist cauldron further and can be revisited by next generations in providing solutions for the society in the future.
Muhammad Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz
Muslim Youth Movement Malaysia (ABIM)
By:- Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz, President Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM)
Utmost gratitude extended to the United Nations for receiving the courtesy call from Abim Pusat & Malaysian CSOs on this very special day of International Solidarity Day for the Palestinian People. The main objective of the visit is to present a Memorandum on behalf of the Malaysian people to the UN to support the initiative by the UN to keep peace and stability in Palestine. At the same time, we want to refresh our stance to be consistent in supporting the Palestinian cause in liberating their homeland. Besides, given the never-ending situation of violence in Palestine, we would like to call upon the UN on behalf of all international communities to uphold the cause of Palestinian people by
1) Enforcing UNSC Resolution 2334 adopted on 23rd December 2016
2) The OTP of ICC requesting authorization from the ICC pre trial chamber for its office to initiate an investigation into the alleged crimes of Israel againts Palestine in accordance with Article 15 (1) Rome Statute.
3) Taking more assertive actions by executing the Resolutions reached un the UNGA though the status of Resolutions are non binding and recommendatory in nature.
4) Defending the rights of the aggrieved Palestinians especially their rights to worship freely in Al-Aqsa mosque without any interference by the Israeli regime, and to preserve the important sites of Al-Aqsa without any irresponsible destruction by the Zionists.
5) Empowering humanitarian missions by facilitating humanitarian agencies under United Nations and humanitarian NGOs such as Global Peace Mission Malaysia (GPM) to hand aids to fulfill the basic needs of the Palestinians.
Last but not least Abim hope to keep engaging with the UN in sharing the same spirit to maintain justice, freedom and peace in this world.
In conjuntion with the visit ABIM presents an olive tree to the UN office in Malaysia as a symbol of trust to the UN to always preserve freedom, justice and fundamental liberties in #Palestine.
PRESIDENTIAL KEYNOTE ON THE BIRTHDAY OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD SALLALLāHU ‘ALAYHI WA SALLAM 1441H / 2019M
MUSLIM YOUTH MOVEMENT MALAYSIA (ABIM)
SET THE LEADERSHIP OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD AS EXAMPLE IN MATERIALIZING SDG 2030
As we know, the birth of Prophet Muhammad ṣallAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam was a mercy from Allah Subhanahu wa-ta’ala not only to mankind, but also the entire universe. The mercy encompasses all aspects of our lives as Allah’s creatures.
Improving quality of lives, rebuilding human characters and upholding equal dignities of human beings are among the main philosophies derived from the Quranic verse Al-Anbiya: 107 “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.”
The persistence, sacrifice and discipline demonstrated by Prophet Muhammad ṣallAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam should be appreciated as a foundation to develop a civilized society and an advanced nation.
Hence, it is a must for us to express our love to the beloved messenger of Allah not only during the celebration of His birthday, but at all times. As a committed Ummah, it is our obligation to follow the sunnah (path) of Rasulullah ṣallAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam in all aspects of our lives.
The expression of love includes our commitment in following his examples as the ultimate role model of all time.
If we study the mechanisms used by Prophet Muhammad ṣallAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam to transform the backward Arab society of Makkah into a glorious civilization notably mentioned by Allah in the Quran as Khayra Ummah (the best nation), they were similar to the goals stipulated by United Nations named as Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030.
In one hadith narrated by Tirmidzi, the first speech of Prophet Muhammad ṣallAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam when he arrived in Madinah was:
"O people Spread (the greeting of) Salam, feed others, uphold the ties of kinship, and pray during the night when people are sleeping, and you will enter Paradise in peace."
The words of the Prophet clearly outlined four missions in the Madinah governance which were citizens’ security and peace (salam), economic welfare to eradicate poverty, fostering relationships among the people and spiritual development in the society.
These principles encompassed the main framework of SDG that is zero poverty, zero hunger, the equal rights of citizens as a pre-condition to fostering unity, peaceful lives, and spiritual development to create characters with integrity and as a result bring about a strong responsible institution.
Besides, the emphasis on education to bring people out of the darkness of jahiliyyah resulting in equal rights and protection of women in the society, citizens who respect all creatures including the environment and as a result building the quality of lives of the people is part of the United Nantions SDG 2030 as an indicator towards sustainable development.
Thus, through the success of Prophet Muhammad to build an ideal civil society based on the sustainable pillars, as an Islamic movement, ABIM is committed to join hands with the international community in materializing the Sustainable Development Goals heading towards a meaningful mission of ABIM that is to build and lead the Khayra Ummah Civilization.
Salam Maulidur Rasul 1441H to all Muslims in Malaysia and the whole world. May our love towards Prophet Muhammad remain strong and bloom with the awareness to carry on his struggle.
Praise be upon Prophet Muhammad ṣallAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Sollu ‘alan Nabi!
Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz,
Muslim Youth Movement Malaysia (ABIM).
Detik 16 September adalah titik permulaan penting dalam sejarah negara ini. Daripada hanya Semenanjung Tanah Melayu dan masyarakat Melayu, Cina serta India teras asasnya, Malaysia telah muncul sebagai sebuah gagasan yang inklusif dengan meraikan penduduk Sabah dan Sarawak daripada pelbagai latarbelakang membentuk sebuah negara baru yang kita warisi bernama Malaysia.
Tarikh yang bersejarah ini mengingatkan kepada peristiyharan yang dilafazkan oleh Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, Bapa Kemerdekaan dan Perdana Menteri pertama negara kita, yang mengharapkan Malaysia”-
“…kekal menjadi sebuah Negara demokrasi yang merdeka lagi berdaulat serta berasaskan kebebasan dan keadilan dan sentiasa mempertahankan serta memelihara keamanan dan kemesraan umatnya dan mengekalkan keamanan di antara segala bangsa di dunia ini”.
Sambutan Hari Malaysia adalah detik terbaik untuk kita sebagai rakyatnya memperbaharui tekad dan meningkatkan usaha untuk sama-sama memimpin negara untuk terus maju ke hadapan dan mampu berdiri sama tinggi dengan negara-negara lain pada masa akan datang.
Di usia Malaysia yang menjangkaui lima dekad, rakyat terbukti mampu hidup saling kenal mengenali, saling memahami antara satu sama lain, dan sama berganding bahu mencorakkan sejarah gemilang yang memartabatkan nama Malaysia sebagai contoh teladan keharmonian hidup masyarakat majmuk.
Kenyataan ini perlu dihayati serta disemaikan seawal usia kanak-kanak. Keluarga mempunyai peranan yang sangat penting untuk membina perspektif positif terhadap persekitaran kanak-kanak agar mereka menghargai kemajmukan yang menjadi latar utama negara kita.
Perpektif ini perlu disusuli dengan rasa hormat serta menghargai kepelbagaian antara bangsa serta agama. Ibu bapa serta setiap lapisan masyarakat mempunyai peranan yang sangat penting dengan memupuk interaksi sosial ini agar ia berjalan secara positif.
Apa yang lebih penting adalah setiap rakyat Malaysia perlu mempunyai inisiatif untuk meneroka dan lebih terbuka untuk bersosial dengan orang yang berbeza dengan latarnya.
Bermula daripada titik ini, perpaduan dalam kalangan rakyat Malaysia akan menjadi lebih teguh mulai akar umbi.
Mohamad Raimi Ab Rahim Presiden, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)
Tulisan ini adalah kata pengantar buku “Islam & Pemikiran Reformis Masa Hadapan: Mencerahkan Maqasid Yang Digelapkan” Anak muda adalah sebahagian daripada gelombang perubahan yang mencorak ketamadunan manusia.
Gelombang perubahan tersebut dirujuk sebagai Nahdah yang berakar daripada bahasa Arab yang bermaksud bangkit (Lisanul Arab). An-nahdah pula adalah bermaksud bangkit dari kekaburan atau kegelapan.
Nahdah merupakan satu proses dari reformasi - islahi untuk membangkitkan kesedaran dan potensi umat dari tahap sedia ada ke satu tahap yang lebih baik, tinggi dan sempurna sesuai dengan martabatnya, sepertimana yang pernah digambarkan oleh Almarhum Ismail Raji al Faruqi’.