KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — Islam forbids a “jihad (struggle)” predicated on race, prominent Muslim scholar Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has said amid controversy over yesterday’s call by the Perak Mufti for Malays to defend their race and rights to the land.
“Jihad against others in the name of race, is not Islam’s teaching,” the former Perlis Mufti said today in a statement in Bahasa Malaysia.
“No race can consider themselves ‘superior’ in the meaning of racial supremacy,” he stressed in an article titled, “Does Islam encourage racial fighting?”
While Asri did not name anyone in particular, his response today appears to dispute Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria message to Malay Muslims yesterday, urging them to defend their race and rights to the land, by saying the Prophet Muhammad also spoke about his race.
The Perak Mufti had said at the launch of former Selangor PAS chief Datuk Hasan Ali’s new Muslim organisation, Jati, that “it is compulsory for Malays to speak about this as this is a Malay country.”
“Some people say we should not talk about Malays. They call us nationalists. But even the Prophet spoke about his race and tribe,” Harussani said in his speech.
“This land is the right of Malays but today we have lost it. I’m not sure but probably less than 40 per cent belongs to Malays now. We are supposed to have 30 per cent of the economy but only have 17 per cent. Still we are silent,” he had said yesterday before breaking into tears.
But Asri pointed out that, in Islam, the principle is to help those who are poor and in trouble without considering whether the person was a kinsman or based on the person’s race.
He added that the same principles have been mentioned by Prophet Muhammad in the Quran.
“The fight to defend one’s race, if it goes against the principles of Islam as mentioned earlier, is forbidden,” the vocal Islamic scholar said.
“But the effort to dignify one’s race, if it does not go against the principles of Islam such as kinship, justice to all and does not insult other races, it is allowed and is even considered noble,” he added.
Asri pointed out that passages from the Quran should not be taken in isolation and used to argue the supremacy of a certain race. He gave as examples Prophet Muhammad’s hadith about the leaders from Quraish.
“This hadith is not about supremacy but about ability and political influence that is to be taken into account when selecting a leader. Because the Quraish tribe had influence and political ability among the Arabs then, they were deemed the most qualified. But at the same time, the Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Even though you are called to rule, you are a slave if he leads you with Allah’s kitab, therefore listen and obey.”
Asri said the passage, from Riwayat Muslim, was actually a denial of racial supremacy.
A popular speaker at public rallies on Islam, the 40-year-old said that “asabiyyah” (social solidarity based on a group consciousness) could result in tribalism that led to oppression of others and, when taken too far, could turn into a fanatical attitude in the form of racism or extreme political or other group views that reject the concerns of others.
“Whatever stand a person wants to uphold, it must be evaluated based on the person’s character and not his ancestry. Justice in Islam is colour-blind, race-blind and even faith-blind,” Asri said.