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Sunday, September 05, 2004

Sectarianism is Ummah's curse, says Mahathir

By Shamim-ur-Rahman
Source: http://www.dawn.com/2004/09/04/top8.htm


KARACHI, Sept 3: Former Malaysian prime minister Dr Tun Mahathir bin Mohammad has said that growing sectarianism and aversion to seeking knowledge, as ordained in the Holy Quran, are the biggest challenges facing the Ummah and called for admitting the truth and correcting the faults.
Dr Mahathir, who is respected as an outspoken exponent of the problems of the Muslims and the developing world, was delivering keynote address at the inaugural session of a three-day international conference on 'Challenges facing the Muslim Ummah in the modern world', organized by the Hamdard Foundation, Pakistan, here on Friday.

The conference was chaired by the president of the foundation, Mrs Sadia Rashid. Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ibad also attended. "The biggest challenge facing the ummah was the challenge of admitting the truth that we have strayed from the basic and true teachings of our religion because of earthly ambitions for ourselves, our sects and our race. It is our fault and not the fault of our religion," he said.

Dr Mahatir arrived in the city on Friday on a three-day visit to Pakistan. He was given a red-carpet welcome at the Quaid-i- Azam International Airport by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and provincial ministers.

The thrust of Dr Mahathir's address was on self-introspection by the Ummah and for banishing sectarianism and seeking knowledge as ordained in the first revelation to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

"Today we see the Sunnis and the Shia, both vehemently maintaining that they are Muslims, but they fight and kill each other because each accuse the other of not being Muslims. Yet the world, the non-Muslims consider both sects as Muslims and do not differentiate between them, condemning both of being guilty of terrorism etc," he said.

He emphasized that the result of this "fragmentation of a single, simple and forthright religion that is named after Peace is a bitter contest to prove that each is more Islamic than the other".
He emphasized that Muslim governments should be led by competent administrators, should be strong, just, and should have the capability to cope with the changing times.

"There is nothing to say that Muslim societies and Muslim countries should recreate the life and the environment that existed at the time of the Prophet (S.A.W.) before it can be considered as Islamic or before it can survive and prosper," he said, adding that Islam is for all times, not just for the Seventh Century of the Christian Era or the First Century of the Hijrah.

The attempt to recreate the environment of the Seventh Century denies the relevance of Islam in terms of time and environment. It only weakens the ummah and renders Islam irrelevant except for the performance of religious rituals.

"Because of all these deviations from the teachings of Islam, because of the differing interpretations and the confusions that they cause, the Muslims have become backward, weak and unable to deal with the multitude of challenges they now face," he said.

Dr Mahathir was of the view that the Muslims were being "oppressed and massacred by their enemies and even more by fellow Muslims. Some of them are aware of the sad state that they are in but most are in denial, refusing to acknowledge the sufferings and the humiliations they have to endure".

Responding to questions about Malaysia's success story, Dr Mahatir said that by 2020 his country would become a fully developed country because it had set the targets that were achievable and also because a great deal was done for peace and stability and for creating jobs by setting up industries.

"We have decided that in order to stabilise the country we should all learn to share and tolerate each other to make headway and share the wealth of the country," he emphasized.
He also referred to the importance Malaysia was giving to the private sector on the pattern of Japan. Replying to another question, he said that leaders of all the Muslim countries were keen for reforms and develop their countries but the implementation appeared to be lacking for want of political will.

The message was to find a common ground between different sections of the population and agree to share the cake. Answering a question, Dr Mahathir said that Pakistan had the potential to become a model for the Muslim Ummah for which stability was essential.

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