Malaysian PM says Islam not cause of west-Muslim world discord

By Salbiah Said, NNN-Bernama

Madrid : Islamic teachings cannot be blamed for the discord which persists between the Muslim world and the West, says Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

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The problems which continued to fester in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Golan Heights, Lebanon and Palestine are more the “vestiges of projections of power by the centres of world power”, he adds.

“The resulting humiliation being felt by Muslims is the main cause of their loss of trust and confidence in the West,” he told a plenary session on “Managing Diversity in the Era of Globalization” at the First Alliance of Civilisations Annual Forum here Tuesday.

“But we have to acknowledge that finding solutions to these strategic issues have now become intertwined with the problem of managing cultural and civilisational diversity,” he said.

“The way forward for arresting the slide in relations between the West and the Muslim world is to resolve these two sets of problems in tandem because they are inter-dependent in terms of cause and effect.”

Abdullah, who is on a working visit to Spain, said western governments should not feel uneasy that Muslims were seeking to live in accordance with the principles and values of the Quran and the examples of the Prophet, or the Sunnah, and they should view such attempts as part and parcel of the diverse forms of living that constitute the present social reality.

The West should also acknowledge that there were civilizations today that continued to uphold religious values in the public sphere, even if many western governments and societies did not, Abdullah stressed.

Accepting diversity demands an open and accommodative attitude towards religion, and specifically towards religions other than one’s own, who is becoming recognized internationally for promoting Islam Hadhari, or civilizational Islam.

He said Islam is a religion that respects cultural and religious diversity, but it is sad that this fact is less than fully understood or appreciated in the West. “I would say again that any refusal to understand or appreciate these facts would indeed be denying the truth.”

Addressing an audience comprising political leaders, media heads, and grassroot and civil society leaders, corporate and film industry executives, as well as religious figures, Abdullah said it was not the intention of Muslims to create Taliban-like states everywhere.

What is true is that a Muslim who is true to his religious teachings will not separate the principle of accountability from political governance simply because he wants to perpetuate his power, and neither will he subordinate justice to the creation of infinite wealth and defend it in the name of economic growth.

“A true Muslim will also not abdicate the principle of fairness in managing ethnic relations even if it makes him somewhat unpopular within his own ethnic community. This is the approach adopted by the government in Malaysia, and we call it Islam Hadhari,” he said.

“It is a manhaj, or guide, based on the teachings of the Quran for Muslims to progress. It emphasizes the development of human capital as a primary focus of national development, to add value to our resources and achievements and prepare ourselves for the knowledge economy. It is the most important strategy for eradicating poverty.”

As a continuing contribution to the process of confidence-building between cultures and civilizations, he said, Malaysia would be organizing the Third International Conference on “The Muslim World and the West: Bridging the Gap” in June this year.

“It is our wish that the Kuala Lumpur conference will complement and reinforce other ongoing efforts,” he added.