Speechs in the year
Tarikh/Date 	: 	02/02/94 

 Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh
     Allah  be  praised  for  by  His  grace we are able to
gather here for the official opening of  the  4th  Malaysian
International  Seminar  on  the  Al-Quran.   I consider this
seminar important for Malaysia's development to be  in  line
with the teachings of Islam.
2.    Islam is a religion based principally on the teachings
provided  by  Al-Quran  which  contains  guidance  for every
aspect of Muslim life.  It is therefore not just a holy book
the reading of which will earn us merit.  If Islam is to  be
a  way  of  life  then  the  contents  of  the Quran must be
correctly understood.  Islam as a way of  life  cannot  mean
the Muslims should have a miserable life and be oppressed by
others.  Nor should they be dependent on non-Muslims for all
their needs.
3.      While we must, as Muslims, revere the Quran, we must
accept that in order to fully understand it we need to study
also the Sunnah and  the  Hadith.  Indeed,   we need, in the
process of ijtihad, to analyse and interpret  the  contents.
While the Quran  is  never wrong,  it is,  however, possible
for those who study, analyse and interpret the  contents  of
the Quran to be wrong.  It is for this reason that different
sects   have  emerged  among  the  Muslims  with   different
interpretations of the teachings of the  Quran,  the  Hadith
and the Sunnah of the Prophet.   If  one  sect  rejects  the
interpretations  of  another  sect it does not mean  that it
rejects   the  Quran  or  Islam.    It  merely  rejects  the
interpretation of another sect,  which may  well  be  wrong.
Thus, the Sunnis generally disagree with the  teachings  and
interpretations of the Syiah sects and vice versa.
4.      These  differences  in  interpretation  are possible
because in many instances the Quran gives  general  guidance
which  covers  every  kind  of  situation.   It is up to the
learned in  religion  to  make  the  interpretations.    The
teachings  of  the  Quran  are  not just for the time of the
Prophet, nor are they confined to the Arabs.   All  Muslims,
everywhere  through  the ages, can seek and find guidance in
the Quran.
5.     Unfortunately, there is a tendency among  some  sects
and  some  ulamas to be rigid in their interpretation and to
believe only in their  own  interpretations.    It  is  such
people  who cause misunderstandings among Muslims, resulting
not only in the division into sects and groups but  also  in
conflicts and wars.  Obviously these divisions and conflicts
among  Muslims  are not due to the Quran.  They are entirely
due to bigotry on the part of the imams and ulamas.
6.            Quite often the Quran is interpreted by people
with vested interests.  These people, in the furtherance  of
their  own  objectives  very  often  misinterpret the Quran.
Throughout the history of Islam there have  been  many  such
people.    Indeed  immediately  following  the demise of the
Prophet s.a.w. another pretender  emerged  who  deliberately
interpreted  the  teachings of the Prophet wrongly.  But for
his defeat at the hands of  Saidina  Abu  Bakar,  his  wrong
teachings could very well have spread among the followers of
Islam, thus  misleading them.
7.       Today the Muslims cannot be said to have achieved a
gracious and glorious life and civilisation.  Everywhere  we
look  we  see them oppressed and backward. They are weak and
incapable not only of defending themselves but of  defending
their  faith even.  Some indeed have become so disillusioned
that they have either foresaken Islam or are Muslims in name
8.     Surely their parlous state cannot  be  due  to  their
following  the  teachings  of  the  Quran.   If they fail to
achieve glory and graciousness in life it cannot be  due  to
Islam  or  the Quran.  But it is entirely possible for their
unfortunate situation to be due to the wrong interpretations
of the Quran.  Indeed it is the only logical explanation for
the failures and weaknesses of the faithful today.
9.    We know that following upon the spread of Islam  among
the  backward Arabs, they became a great people who mastered
all kinds of knowledge and skills which enabled them  to  go
forth  and  spread  the teachings to almost the whole of the
known world then.   A glorious and  powerful  ummah  emerged
which  enhanced  the  influence and power of Islam.  Muslims
lived a gracious life, honoured and  respected  by  everyone
and  master  of  all  the  skills and knowledge known to men
10.   All these must have been achieved as a result of their
learning the contents of the Quran.  A backward people  like
the  Arabs,  given  to  much  rivalry  and feuding, became a
peaceful people with mastery of all the arts  and  sciences,
which in turn brought them universal respect.  Such were the
results of the teachings contained in the Quran.
11.    Why then are the Muslims of today backwards?  Why are
they weak and oppressed, unable to defend the ummah or their
faith?  Why are they no longer the  masters  of  themselves?
Is  it  possible that the Quran which moulded the wild Arabs
into a  world  power  for  centuries  after  Hijrah  is  now
responsible  for  the weaknesses and miserable conditions of
the ummah?  It is not possible.  The Quran is the same.  Not
a word has been changed.   There  is  no  such  thing  as  a
revised  Quran  as there are for many other holy books.  The
Quran of today is the same as in the times  of  the  Prophet
and when it was first written and inspired the faithful.
12.      Yet  the people of the Quran of today are different
from the people of the Quran in the early years of Islam.
13.    The only possible reason for the  difference  in  the
achievements  of the faithful believers lies in the numerous
interpretations of the Quran by many different scholars  and
teachers.    The  Quran is for all times.  It gives guidance
for the different ages.  It cannot, therefore, be absolutely
specific.  Thus, the Muslims were exhorted  to  have  horses
and  swords ready for their defence.  Instructions on how to
breed and  rear  horses  or  forge  swords  are  not  given.
Obviously   Muslims   must   learn   how  elsewhere.
14.     Equally obvious is that this  refers  to  the  early
period  of  Islam when horses and swords were the  principal
requirements  of defence.  No mention was made of  bows  and
arrows,  camels  and foot  soldiers,  armours  of  iron  and
leather.  But the fact that these have not been specifically
mentioned did not mean that the armies of Islam  should  not
have them.  If  they  were  required  for  defence  in  that
period,   then the Muslims must have them.  And we know that
the  Muslim armies had  all these defence equipment.
15.     By the same token the same verse on preparations for
defence by Muslims in this day and age should be interpreted
within the context of modern warfare.  Swords and horses are
of no use.  This does not mean that the Quran is out of date
or  irrelevant.    The  defence  needs  now   must   involve
strategies  and  weapons  of modern defence.   Only the most
dogmatic interpreters of the  Quran  would  insist  that  we
prepare  horses  and swords.  It is these kind of people who
make the Quran irrelevant and obstruct the progress  of  the
Muslims to master all the arts, sciences and technologies of
modern  warfare.    That they have not mastered all these is
because  the  teachers  of  Islam  are  more  interested  in
esoteric  issues  which  are not critical to the welfare and
strength of the Muslim.   They  would  debate  endlessly  on
these  issues and they would split up and weaken the Muslims
because of them.  But they ignore such important  verses  on
defence  for  example.    It  is  these  people who miss the
message of the Quran to the detriment of the Muslim ummah.
16.   The Quran should not be interpreted literally.  To  do
so  would be to limit the vasts lesson that are contained in
it for the Muslim ummah and for humanity.   To do  so  would
make the Quran misleading and out of date.  And the Quran is
far  from  being  misleading  or  out  of  date.   It is the
interpreters who are misleading, lacking  in  knowledge  and
out of date.
17.   It is no longer possible to confine the interpretation
of  the  teachings  of  the  Quran to the religious scholars
only.  The problems of today require that scholars of  other
disciplines  be  also  involved in the interpretations.  The
progress in medical science, genetics,  space  explorations,
commerce  and  industry  require  deep  knowledge  in  these
subjects in order to relate to the teachings of  the  Quran.
If  they  are not, then there is a grave danger of the Quran
being   regarded  by  some  Muslims  as  irrelevant.     The
non-Muslims might even ridicule it.
18.     It  is  necessary  now  to go  back to the Quran and
disregard the interpretations made by  some  of  the  ulamas
after  the  period  of Islamic glory.   There is evidence to
show that some of  these  ulamas  were  more  interested  in
preserving  their influence over the Ottoman Government than
they were in making correct  interpretation.    Thus  seeing
that  the  Christian Churches had lost their influence after
the separation of the Church from the State, they  condemned
the  learning  of  non-religious  subjects  in the hope that
those with such knowledge do not emerge  to  displace  them.
All such learnings were condemned as secular and proscribed.
As  a  result Muslims who used to lead the world in the arts
and  the  sciences  began   to   lag   behind   non-Muslims.
Eventually  almost  every Muslim country fell under the rule
of Western imperialist.    Clearly  the  interpretations  of
these   ulamas   were  self-serving.    Unfortunately  their
teachings are still largely accepted today.
19.    The only way out is to  go  back  to  the  Quran  and
reinterprete  it correctly.   The interpretations must be in
the interest of Islam and the Muslims.  They must take  into
consideration  the current situation.  They must not be made
to serve the interest of those who interprete   them  or  of
any individual or group or political factions.
20.      This  Seminar on the Quran must be motivated by and
directed to making  the  Quran  the  guiding  light  of  the
Muslims.    As  the  Quran served the early Muslims and made
them a glorious people, so will it bring back that glory  to
the  modern  Muslims.    But first we have to interprete its
teachings correctly in the  context  of  a  world  that  has
changed radically.
21.      This  seminar is therefore useful if not crucial in
order to bring the Quran  back  to  the  mainstream  of  our
thinking  and  our  approach  to the problems of the Muslims
today and in the future.  I hope that you will not miss  the
opportunity  to  help  sustain the faith in the teachings of
the Quran.
22.    May Allah bless you all and may  this  seminar  be  a
resounding success.
23.    On this note, in the name of Allah, the most Gracious
and the most Merciful, I  declare  this  Seminar  officially
      Wabillahitaufik      walhidayah,     wassalamu'alaikum
warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.