I HAVE been assigned by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to share with you a positive universal concept which currently stands as Malaysia’s fundamental principle of governance and administration.
Multiethnic, multilingual and multi-religious Malaysia is a rapidly developing country in Southeast Asia with an approximate population of 34 million. It is also known as a popular centre for business, education, tourism, and international meetings and conferences.
Malaysians are known for their openness, warmth and hospitality. The country has been progressing well since its independence from Britain in 1957 and is now moving towards a new era.
However, the presence of various ethnic and religious groups has caused irresponsible parties to ignite the fires of race and religion, causing concern among some quarters in the population who have been living harmoniously together for a long time.
In effect, the community suffers from trust deficit, hence, giving birth to Islamophobia and xenophobia. The current government is seriously looking into this challenge, and is committed to address the issue through a broad vision of “Malaysia Baru” or shared prosperity.
Throughout Malaysia’s history, two factors are constant and have ensured the success of development policies. One is economic development and growth; the other is national unity and racial cohesiveness.
As the official religion, Islam has always been the guiding principle to ensure the success of government policies.
Post 9/11, Islam, however, has been viewed negatively and unfairly associated with terrorists. The true teachings of Islam as understood and practised by some two billion Muslims around the world have been misrepresented.
In this regard, the Malaysian government has taken the initiative to highlight the virtues and values of Islamic teachings,
and to emphasise a shared prosperity vision for the nation and country.
It is essential to state the position of Islam in relation to the rise of radicalism and Islamophobia. We are aware that there is a need to change the negative perception of Islam. The aim is to promote Islam as a religion of peace and compassion.
Malaysia wishes to set an example to the world by practising Islam’s concept of “Rahmatan Lil Alamin” (a mercy to all creations).
“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” This verse from the Quran describes Allah sending Prophet Muhammad as a mercy to all creations.
Rahmatan Lil Alamin encompasses positive universal values, not specifically to benefit Muslims only. It means mercy to all mankind. Islam does not teach believers to hurt or oppress others.
The concept is based on Maqasid Syariah or the Objectives of Life’s Principles, namely, the preservation of the religion, preservation of life, preservation of intellect, preservation of lineage and preservation of wealth.
This concept, which has been approved by Malaysia’s Rulers’ Council, is being introduced at all levels of the various communities, to be applied in governance, administration and other aspects of life. It is a policy to create a new image of Malaysia, in addition to promoting a model of shared prosperity and peaceful coexistence.
The concept of Rahmatan Lil Alamin and Islam as a religion of peace and compassion is not new. Academics have discussed and written about the values of benevolence, kindness and mercy that Islam advocates. But what is new is that the Malaysian government is translating it into government policies and as the solution to contemporary challenges, such as Islamophobia and radicalism.
Under the 2020 Budget, RM10 million has been allocated for this national policy to be implemented.
The government is aware of the huge task that lies ahead; nevertheless, it is committed to furnish Malaysia Baru with refreshing ideas and progressive policies — where at the core of it is the shared prosperity vision guided by the Rahmatan Lil Alamin concept for a better Malaysia.
It is indeed a long journey, but I believe we can reach there surely.