On Prophet's birthday, minister says Islam doesn’t discriminate

Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa reminds followers that Islam is a religion that promotes universal values of justice and goodness, more so towards non-Muslims. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa reminds followers that Islam is a religion that promotes universal values of justice and goodness, more so towards non-Muslims. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 20 ― Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa reminded Muslims today that Islam admonishes any form of discrimination, amid growing conservative anger over Putrajaya's proposal to ratify an international convention against racial bias.

Speaking at the official celebration of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday here, the Islamic affairs minister reminded the faith's followers that Islam is a religion that promotes universal values of justice and goodness, more so towards non-Muslims.

The universality of Islam's notion of justice, he added, was reflected in Prophet Muhammad's life.

“Islam prohibits any form of discrimination based on faith, descent or differences,” Mujahid said.

The minister's speech came amid simmering tension between conservative ethnic Malays and minorities over state efforts to recognise the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The treaty's detractors, mostly nativists aligned to the former ruling party Umno and Islamists PAS, claim ICERD is a backdoor for non-Muslims to abolish Malay political and economic privilege.

Government leaders, including Mujahid, have denied this and said the ICERD issue has been intentionally distorted by political rivals to stoke racial strife.

In his speech today, Mujahid defended inclusive policies as in line with “maqasid syariah”, the universal objective of Islamic teachings that takes into consideration context and social pluralism.

“The administration of a state must be based on the Quran and sunnah without abandoning key rules like the maqasid syariah,” he said.

“In a multiracial context, governance must be based on the maqasid syariah in that justice must be for all without exclusion.

“Everyone will prosper under this system. That is what we call rahmatan lil alamin.”

Rahmatan lil alamin literally translates to blessedness to all, which refers to Islam as a universal religion. It is often cited by progressives to defend merits-based welfare policies.

The newly-elected Pakatan Harapan administration is facing fierce opposition against its plans to expand state socio-economic development programmes to include more minorities.

Conservative backlash has forced them to stall some of these initiatives, including delaying ratifying the ICERD in a move both aimed at mitigating tension and averting political damage.

On the streets and in social media, disquiet over the issue has somewhat spilled over and given rise to casual racism towards minorities.

Mujahid touched on this in his speech today. Saying how Muslims behave affect the faith's image, he urged Malays to display exemplary lives and avoid acts that alienate non-Muslims.

“Our courtesy and politeness is how we win them over as actions that reflect poorly will only alienate them from Islam.

“That is the right and smooth dakwah,” he said.

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