At Isma event, Dr M tells Muslims to accept differences

Speaking at an Isma event, Sept 14, 2015, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called on Muslims in Malaysia to embrace differences of opinions. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Speaking at an Isma event, Sept 14, 2015, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called on Muslims in Malaysia to embrace differences of opinions. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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SHAH ALAM, Sept 14 — At an event held by known hardline Islamic group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today urged Muslims in the country to embrace differences of opinions.

Dr Mahathir, known for his progressive views on Islam, noted that Muslims have the tendency to amplify their differences instead of their common goal, and said this was one of the main factors that divides the Muslim community and makes them weak.

He said it was not the right of any Muslim to declare those who do not share similar views as unislamic, noting that as long as they hold to the “ikraq” (pledge), they are considered Muslims.

“We as Muslims, whether we are shiah or sunnis, we read out the kalimah shahadah… where we proclaim Allah to be our God and Muhammad as his messenger. As long as they hold to this ikraq, they are considered Muslims.

“We do not have the right to declare someone unislamic just because they think differently, dress differently or do not look like us,” Dr Mahathir said while addressing the attendees of an event meant to reminisce the struggles of past Malay-Muslim leaders.

Isma have in the past created controversy over several statements deemed incendiary, including accusing its critics as less Islamic and even traitors of the Malay race.

It is unclear if Dr Mahathir’s statement was aimed at Isma, or to Muslims in general.

The former prime minister had repeatedly in the past his claim that the Muslim community is weak despite their huge numbers worldwide, pointing to sectarianism as the chief cause.

Today Dr Mahathir claimed that divisions in the Muslim world often resulted in bloodbaths, much to the joy of the community’s enemies – the Jews and the US.

“So what happens is we end up killing each other and when that happens the ones clapping are the Jews and the US,” he said.

The former prime minister, who served for 22 years, said Muslims should instead focus on their common goal – to strengthen Islam and the Malays – and by doing so would foster greater unity among the community.

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