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Oleh/By		:	DATO' SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD 
Tempat/Venue 	: 	KOMPLEK TABUNG HAJI, SUBANG 
Tarikh/Date 	: 	04/06/83 
Tajuk/Title  	: 	AT THE OPENING OF THE SECOND 
			GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF RISEAP 




It is a great pleasure to be given the opportunity to address the Second
General Assembly of the Regional Islamic Dakwah Council of Southeast Asia
and the Pacific and to be associated with the representatives of Muslim
voluntary organisations from sixteen countries in the region. I would like
to thank the President of RISEAP, Yang Teramat Mulia Tunku Abdul Rahman
Putra Al Haj, for inviting me to address this distinguished gathering
again this year.

2. There are almost fifty independent Muslim states with a population of
about 700 million. Apart from this, there are about 300 million Muslims in
other countries where they form the minority. A gradual improvement in
their economic position has aroused great interest in the role of the
Muslim world in the creation of a new world order.

3. Muslim states and peoples are steadily strengthening the bonds of unity
and are developing institutions to foster it. The Organisation of the
Islamic Conference (OIC) and its associated organisations, such as the
Islamic Solidarity Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, the Islamic
Foundation for Science, Technology and Development, and the Islamic
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, are some of the
structures contributing towards Islamic solidarity.

4. In the Southeast Asia and Pacific region, I am glad to note that RISEAP
has managed to instill greater unity and effective cooperation amongst the
Islamic communities in this region. The initiative taken to foster Islamic
solidarity through voluntary organisations is an important complementary
effort to the regular activities of Islamic nations. The trend clearly
indicates that Muslims are eager to overcome their state of helplessness
and deprivation through the guidance of the Holy Quran and Sunnah, and to
gain for themselves their rightful position in the community of nations. 

5. attention due to its geopolitical importance, its expanding economic
worth and the increasing assertiveness of Muslim minorities in their claim
to just rights in a multi-cultural world. Muslims are being closely
observed for any influence they may exert as a result of their religious
and cultural heritage. Indeed the richness of the Muslim world lies in its
religious, cultural and ideological heritage. It can bring fresh
approaches in solving the problems faced by modern man, based on its
ideals of justice and the brotherhood of man, ideals which are vital to
the realisation of an equitable world order.

6. Unfortunately, the attention given to the Muslim world especially by
the western media is far too often biased, presenting a picture of the
efforts of Muslims to inculcate proper Islamic values and practise the
teachings of Islam as something to be feared. The efforts of Muslims to
make the principles and ideals of their faith play a more meaningful role
in the development of a just and prosperous society is portrayed as the
work of a strange group of people they refer to as the
'fundamentalists'. This term, which is borrowed from western terminology
and religious experience, according to the dictionary, means "an extreme
Protestant position characterised by the belief that the Bible is a
verbally accurate recording of the word of God" or "adherence to
traditional beliefs of any kind". In this connection all Muslims must be
fundamentalists of the first type. We know for certain that the Quran
revealed to Muhammad 1,400 years ago is the direct revelation of God to
mankind and is of universal applicability. As far as tradition is
concerned Islam is wisdom that withstand all falsehood.

7. The current revival of Islamic awareness comes at a time when the
dominant ideologies of socialism, capitalism and communism are being
questioned for failing to deliver the goods. It is equally necessary for
non-Muslims, just like the Muslims, to examine the message of Islam with
openness and without prejudice. If Islam has nothing to offer, why worry
about it? If it has something to offer, why deny it to yourselves? The
efforts of the Malaysian Government to establish an Islamic Bank and an
International Islamic University, and to foster positive values in
accordance with the teachings of Islam, have been criticised and
misinterpreted by the international media and certain correspondents of
international journals and magazines. The deliberate alarmism and
sensationalism of these ignorant and biased critics, who have made no
effort to first of all understand the Islamic principles, has created an
image of Islam as a religion which does not need to be understood, but
only to be feared. Their malicious distortions and ignorance have created
a climate of fear. It is unfortunate that the sophistication in
communication technology is not being applied to creating better
understanding of Islam, the religion of a thousand million people, but
rather to create unneccessary fears and prejudices against Islam and its
followers.

8. Of course, in every religion and ideology, we find extremists, but I
would venture to say that the percentage of fanatics and extremists in
Islam is much less than that found in other faiths. No one presents Jimmy
Jones as a person typical of the Christians or the Spanish Inquisition as
a manifestation of Christian theocracy. These are all aberrations, the
exceptions to the rule. And so the few extremists in Islam should not be
pictured as evidence that Islam is to be feared, that its revival bodes
ill for the world, particularly of the non-Muslim world.

9. It is wrong for these biased critics to imply that the fostering of an
Islamic way of life would endanger the rights of non-Muslims. An objective
reading of history indicates that the Islamic system really guarantees the
protection of the rights of minorities. Islam, since the days of Prophet
Muhammad (s.a.w.), has recognised non-Muslims as an ummah, or community on
par with the Muslim community, with the full rights to realise themselves
according to their own legacy and genius. In history we can see that the
Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus and Buddhists were included in the
Islamic state as ummahs on par with the ummah of the Muslims. The Islamic
system was their guarantor and protector, whose duty, as defined by its
own constitution, was to enable each group to live in accordance with its
own religion, society and culture, and to perpetuate itself through
generations in perfect freedom. The Islamic state thus enables those of
different religions and cultures to live harmoniously and in peace with
one another. This is a unique phenomenon on earth and history knows no
parallel.

10. The biased and prejudiced western media which talk of the spread of
fires of Islamic revolutionary fervour are protecting the vested interests
of certain groups, namely the interests of the super-powers. Instead of
making any effort to understand the teachings of Islam in relation to
socio-economic and political developments, the press and television
accentuates the creation of doubt and hesitation on the capacity of Islam
to deal with the problems confronting the modern world. In addition, doubt
has also been created about the purity of Islamic intentions.

11. Most of the so-called western 'experts' on Islam are extremely
ignorant of even the most basic of Islamic teachings regarding the major
issues facing mankind, and they do not even have the basic working
knowledge of Islamic history or current affairs. For example in a recent
book, one so-called 'expert' has said "In Malaysia, partly under Iranian
influence, Muslim fundamentalists are throwing their television sets into
the river and ripping the comfortable upholstery out of their cars,
replacing it with wooden benches" (Janson: Militant Islam). I would like
to invite him to conduct a thorough search of the Malaysian rivers for
dumped television sets and highways for cars with wooden seats. This
'expert' would also like the Muslims to reject 

12. In the coverage of the resurgence of Islam, the western media gives
unfavourable labels to Muslims and favourable ones to the adversaries of
the Muslims. Muslim groups, fighting to maintain their Islamic identity
against oppressive regimes are most often called 'terrorists',
'aggressors', 'insurgents' or 'separatists', but not freedom
fighters. Labels such as 'extremist vs. moderate' and 'fundamentalist vs
progressive' are used with ulterior motives.

13. Efforts to discredit the Islamic resurgence and the Islamic way of
life will surely continue for so long as the Muslims stand firm, holding
to their values and institutions, free from any super-power in the
world. Islam must be freed from any form of neo-imperialistic influences,
so it can give its own answer to the world's desire for a true and lasting
peace.

14. The Muslim world, including the Muslim minorities, must find ways to
meet this challenge of disinformation about Islam, propagated by the
so-called protagonists of the free press. Since you met last year, the
situation of Muslims, including the minorities has not improved
appreciably. In fact in many countries of the world, the Muslims are worse
off then they were last year. Muslims have still not been able to obtain
the same degree of tolerance for them, as is given to non-Muslims in
Muslim countries. The brutal slaughter of Muslims in Assam, and the
refugee camps of Beirut, shows how little regard is given to life and
property. Part of the fault must lie with the Muslims. In a world that
recognises only strength, the Muslims are weak. They are backward in terms
of knowledge and skills. They are divided against themselves. They know
all these and they know the answers to their problems. But unfortunately
they succumb too easily to their weaknesses and make little effort to act
and to persist.

15. It is obligatory for Muslim minorities to solve their problems. We are
taught to respect others and for others to respect our rights. The
solution is a nation-wide community organisation which must be based on
two principles -- discipline and resources. Without discipline, there can
never be a group, and without resources, there can never be
activities. Muslims who have organised themselves into communities have
followed these principles thus enabling them to continue as a
community. Without discipline and resources the community will become weak
and tend to disintegrate and disappear. In order to organise as a
community, it is necessary to choose a capable and sincere body or persons
as the decision making authority and establish the zakat and waqaf, as the
basis of our resources. Unfortunately some Muslim communities in the
non-Muslim world forget the two principles easily and give in to the
influence of alien ideologies and cultures. There is an absence of shura
and an absence of viable resources, and therefore, these communities
disintegrate. It is necessary for Muslim minorities to establish a
nation-wide community organisation operating on a system of consultation
sustained by a centralised fund.

16. We in Malaysia will continue to do everything within our means to
assist in the struggle of the Muslim ummah wherever they are for their
right to lead the life of a true Muslim. I am happy to note that RISEAP,
the Malaysian Airline System and the Malaysian Pilgrims Management and
Fund Board were able to make arrangements last year for over 150 Muslim
pilgrims from countries where they are a minority to perform the Haj with
facilities provided by the Board. They were from Australia, New Zealand,
Fiji and New Caledonia. I am glad that for the coming Haj season, about
200 pilgrims from Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Japan and Taiwan are expected
to perform the Haj under similar arrangements.

17. As I announced last year, an International Islamic University will,
Insya-Allah, admit the first students in the Law, Economics and Business
Studies Faculties in July this year. The cooperation of RISEAP in
forwarding information of the establishment of this University and
obtaining pre-enrolment information for 200 applicants from Muslims in the
region, is greatly appreciated. Insya-Allah, the science faculties will
commence next year.

18. The modern age presents us with a challenging opportunity to test our
integrity, exploit our resources and call upon our moral strength. The
contemporary scene facing Muslim minorities, and even some Muslim
majorities, holds for us both the threat of extinction, as well as the
promise of glory. The world is crying out for those who have the courage
to stand out, to defy stereotypes and lend a helping hand to this troubled
world. The Muslims can do it. In fact we must try because if we do, we
will preserve our identity and help our troubled fellow man irrespective
of their religious beliefs. Above all we will please Allah, enjoy His
infinite blessings and guidance, and stand as the true symbol of humanity.

19. With this words, I have much pleasure in officially declaring RISEAP's
Second General Assembly open.

Wabillahi taufik walhidayah, wassalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Prime Minister's Office,

 



 


 











 
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