KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — The concept of “moderate Muslim” was invented by “enemies of Islam” aiming to undermine and exert control over the Muslim world, a leader of Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) claimed today.
Suriani Sudi, the deputy chief of the group’s women’s wing, urged Muslims to be uncompromising when defending their religion.
Suriani, also a lecturer at Kolej Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Selangor, said it is unfair to label Muslims who are simply defending their religion as “extremists.”
“The word ‘moderate’ has been made a weapon where anybody who opposes the moderates will be labelled conservative, extremist and extreme,” Suriani said in an article carried by Isma’s website.
“It is as if among the Muslims, it is the Moderate Muslims who are right, true, moderate, non-extreme, modern, up-to-date, and parallel with human rights.”
The term “moderate Muslim” has been used to refer to reformist and progressive movements in Islam which had started since the 7th century but was renewed following the rise of fundamentalist and militant Islamic groups, especially after the September 11 attack in 2001.
Suriani alleged that despite his modest demeanour, the Prophet Muhammad had acted uncompromisingly in order to defend the rights of Muslims.
Muhammad had acted sternly when he exiled a clan for trying to assassinate him and when Jews had betrayed him, she said.
“Is it extreme when Isma’s president defended his own race?” Suriani said, adding that his remarks were in response to attacks on the rights and status of the Malay people.
“Is it wrong for us to warn those who try to mock us? After all, in the Quran, Allah has on many occasions warned those who tried to mock the religion and its adherents,” she said.
Earlier this month, Isma claimed that the influx of Chinese migrants into the country had been “a mistake” which must be rectified, but stopped short of saying how this could be achieved.
According to Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman, ethnic Chinese are considered trespassers on Malay land, and had been brought by British colonialists to oppress Malays.
The police has since confirmed that it is probing Isma under the Sedition Act 1948 for the remark.
In the same article, Suriani also suggested that there is nothing wrong with defending one’s race as it had served well Muslim civilisations of the past.
“Is it that bad when somebody defends his race? Is it that despicable? Even the preaching of the Prophet himself had never destroyed racial identities. It was seen as an advantage,” added Suriani.
“Therefore, is it wrong if we defend our race? Is it wrong for us to be proud of our race, what more with the Islam that our race follows?”
The article followed a defence by Isma deputy president Aminuddin Yahaya, who said that the recent racial and religious tensions were sparked by “chauvinist” non-Malays and non-Muslims who claim that Malaysia is a secular country where they are marginalised.
According to Aminuddin, Malays are the most tolerant race in the world and have been accommodating even as non-Malays entered the country and transformed its racial makeup.
That tolerance has not been reciprocated by other races, he added.