The heritage of Islam in science and arts is clear evidence that Islamic concepts are compatible with the present and future aspirations of the Muslims. The success of
Islam Deeply Rooted
Since C.E. 878 (14th century AD) Islam was embraced by the people along the coast of
In the 19th century, the Western colonial powers invaded the Peninsular Malaysia and brought in many missionaries along with Indian and Chinese labourers to put pressure on the Malay Muslims. The colonial powers unsuccessfully attempted the Christianisation of the locals by various means, in particular through their educational systems.
A Tiger Is Born
In 1957 the federation of Malaya becomes independent from
From 1971 through the late 1990s,
In Malaysian cities you will see manifestations of progress, tolerance and pluralism: a modern economy, an educated and urbane work force, and the ethnically and religiously diverse populations peacefully coexisting.
The Great Leader
Mahathir Mohamad, a doctor began his political career in 1946, when he joined a newly founded nationalist party called United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). In 1964 he became an UMNO member of parliament. He took over the leadership of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and elected to parliament in 1974. He was later appointed Minister of Education and in 1981 he became prime minister.
When he took over, Dr Mahathir has gathered around him a coterie of powerful aides and businessmen. He simply picks the best person to do a job. Open and diverse economy rapidly transformed
Dr Mahathir's policies at home won him much popular support and helped him build a national identity in this multiracial nation. Malaysians adopted a mixture of capitalism, Islam and nationalism. He rebuilt the relations between
Dr Mahathir is hailed by many as a folk hero as he gave his native Malays a major dose of modernization to help them get out of their dilemma with guaranteed share of educational and other opportunities, and a stake in every company. The share of national wealth held by Malays has risen from 9% to more than 20%. Poverty levels have fallen to 5% of all households, from more than 35% in 1982. Two thirds of the population now lives in cities.
Dr Mahathir is a confrontational spokesman for the Muslim world. He accused Western neo-colonialists bent on subjugating
He has also condemned the US-led war on
Bypassing the Financial Crisis
In 1997 the Asian financial crisis obstructed a decade of impressive economic growth of the Asian tigers.
A substantial fiscal stimulus package mitigated the worst of the recession and the economy rebounded in 2002. Healthy foreign exchange reserves and relatively small external debt make it unlikely that
The Other Half of the Moon
Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of an Islamic youth movement affiliated with Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), was co-opted by the ruling party UMNO in the late 1980s, and before long had risen to become Deputy Premier and presumed successor of Mahathir. But Mahathir turned savagely on his deputy in 1998.
Against the background of differences over economic policy between Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim, Mr. Ibrahim was abruptly sacked and accused of corruption and sexual misconduct. Following a controversial trial, Mr. Ibrahim was found guilty and sentenced to more than nine years in prison. He is still serving the jail sentences.
The Malays are accusing Dr Mahathir of abandoning his Muslim principles. Critics of Dr Mahathir say that after 46 years of independence, there is not much sign of that the teachings of Islam are being applied in
More recently, Dr Mahathir was accused of using the US-led war on terrorism as an excuse to neutralize Islamic political opponents at home. Scores of suspected militants have been arrested without trial under the much-criticized Internal Security Act. Many accuse him of "crony capitalism" and cowing of the press and the courts.
PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang said PAS would amend the federal constitution to create an Islamic state, if it wins power in the next election, which Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is expected to call in early 2004. Sheikh Awang said that his party offered the alternative to Western-style democracy, which had led only to "endemic social decadences and rampant injustices".
New Chapter Opened
Last month Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as prime minister as Mahathir Mohamad stepped down after 22 years in office. The leadership transition was smooth. Mr Badawi is one of the most popular of UMNO's leaders, seen as clean-cut, religious and experienced. Badawi is a devout Muslim from a family of distinguished religious teachers. Even the Islamist opposition accords him a degree of respect for his religious learning. It is hoped that he may offer more democratic space.
Other Muslim countries should follow the Malaysian example by eschewing the literalist understanding of Islam for a progressive orientation that gives primacy to the broader objectives of Shari'a law and meets the demands of modernity. Muslim countries should focus on the provision of human-resource development. The religious schools should also teach secular subjects beside Fiqh and Arabic language.