6:59pm 19/11/2023
From Islamic ‘Reformasi’ to Melayu ‘Deformasi’
By:Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

I am frantically worried about the Malays in Malaysia.

The state of mind of most Malays have deformed to a condition I think may be impossible to recuperate.

In engineering terms of elasticity, the Malays have gone into a “plastic stage” of the mind.

What is the plastic stage as opposed to the elastic one in the principles of the structural strength of materials?

In the elastic stage, steel or iron will deform when loaded with a force or weight but the deformation will cease once the weight of force is released. The material returns elastically to its original shape.

However, if steel or iron deforms well into the plastic range, the material will not totally fail yet but will not be able to return to its original length or shape.

This is what is happening to the Malays in terms of their state of being a Malaysian by being deformed in their simplistic and much ignorant understanding of Islam.

In this article, as much as it pains me to write about my own race, I am going to explain what I mean as Islamic Reformasi and Melayu Deformasi.

First of all, my use of the word Reformasi is totally different from Anwar Ibrahim’s 1998 cry of Reformasi.

Reformasi in this article relates directly to the Islamic Reformation movement in the 70s that matured in the 90s and now is being deformed in the 21st century, 40 years later.

The word Deformasi in this article means a state of thinking and being that no longer admits to being a Malaysian formed by our forefathers in the 50s and 60s.

This Deformasi creates a Malay mindset that looks at Islam first, second and last within the context of Malaysia on any issue whatsoever.

The Malays think that by being this “deformed”, they are closer to Allah and closer to the cryptic idea of Islamic unity.

Muslim Malays don’t care two cents about Malaysian unity or harmony. They care only a united Muslim force that can take over Malaysia and the world to be under a “deformed version of Islam” that looks more like a tribal or race-based construct than the original idea of a universal spirituality brought by the Prophet Muhammad affirming the previous messages of other great prophets in the Christian and the Jewish traditions.

The new “deformed Islam” answers only to the present construct of political expediency and tribal coalition.

What, therefore, happened to Malaysia from the 80s onwards? How did we end up in this bottomless pit of mistrust and enmity among ourselves

Well, firstly, in order to understand and make an attempt to crawl out of our bottomless pit, we must never blame one person or one group of people or party.

It is of course easy among civil society to blame Anwar, or Mahathir or Hadi Awang or Zahid. That will not work simply because it is not the truth of what ails our country. Something as big as this Melayu Deformasi cannot have only one or two triggers but it is a slow evolution that sped up with the 5G speed of social media.

Nothing has made humanity become more stupid and bodoh-bangang as the fast speed of the internet.

I have lived to see that happened. When Alvin Tofler wrote “Future Shock” in my first year at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.

I think he would have a bigger shock if he saw what happened to his prediction that the internet would cause political revolution and speed up progress like never before.

Well, much of what he said came true but he never would have imagined millions of people being influenced by pretty social media influencer who knows nothing about religion, history, politics or even English, but has managed to cause boycotts, hatred and total mistrust that teeter on nation annihilation socially and politically.

The Islamic Reformation was supposed to create a generation of Muslims that was not racial or tribal in politics but focus on honesty, justice, compassion and hard work. That was all.

With these values, Allah will reserve a place in Heaven for them.

What was the Islamic Reform trying to reform in the 70s? The Reformists were trying to teach Muslims to not depend on clerics but learn Islam independently, not to rely on a priesthood of muftis and ustazs but look at salvation individually based on social sacrifice and good governance.

At the same time, of course, the Muslims must dress well, eat halal food, no alcohol drinking, have excellent manners, cultivate critical minds for ijtihad (interpretation) and a fair treatment of all people in muamallah or day-to-day business.

The Islamic Reform does not tolerate insulting non-Muslims as animals or corruptible, do not accept the idea of filth of body because of being non-Muslim, do not agree to calling others as kafir or kafir harbi, do not support corrupt and foul-mouthed leaders and most importantly, to be in good terms and in harmony with all faiths, for it is Allah who decides who will enter Heaven at the end of the day.

But what has happened to the Malays now?

Now, the Malays support overwhelmingly leaders from a political party claiming to be Islamic which insults others, lies about family lineage, threatens May 13 on Malaysians and shuns festivals that have nothing to do with Islam.

Not only that, we have now Malays boycotting other Malays working at McDonald’s, Starbucks or Grab, simply because they want to show loyalty to suffering Muslims thousands of miles away.

This Malay Deformasi also accuse anyone going against their boycott as kafirs, musyriks and even musuh-musuh Islam.

Why has this come to a state of catastrophic proportions to nation-building in Malaysia?

My answer is that muftis are not doing their job or worse, they are also part of the Melayu Deformasi group.

Islam, to most of these Malays, need a tribal unity and unity requires the idea that the ends justify the means.

Then there is also the silence from the thousands of Malay-Muslim academics who are social scientists and Islamic experts.

Why are they silent? Are they scared to speak up on issues that would educate the Malays?

No. Most of these professors are also part of the Deformasi group. How? These academics are silo in their thinking without reading and contemplating any other thoughts about society beyond their small disciplines.

So, the thoughts of professors and pretty social influencer are one and the same.

How then do we stop this march to nationhood doom?

Malaysians must trust some people to do their work. To me, it seems Malaysians are quick to the draw in lambasting our Unity Government like there is no tomorrow.

The way out is to be patient, to have wisdom and to place complete trust in our present leadership.

I see so much impatience, so many people thinking they can carry the burden of the prime minister and his cabinet to the point that I feel complete disgust in the so-called “high moral ground” of these critics.

Can Malaysians truly believe that these critics are able actually to govern Malaysia?

We did our part in voting and now we should support the government with positive and constructive ideas and not wail and throw tantrums all the time praying for miracles to happen.

We, Malaysians, are as much to be blamed by the “Deformasi” of the Malays by our impatience and non-wisdom statements on any Islamic issue.

These days, everything seems to be an Islamic issue. That’s how PAS will frame them to be in their court. And so, the faster we admit and understand that power play, the better we must learn to respond accordingly.

The Malays are already in the plastic range of their mindset on Islam and nationhood. We must hold the structure so that it does not fall on our head until we replace the structural components with newer ones to rebuild our nation.

Anwar and the Unity Government are fighting a forest fire of Melayu Deformasi, and we are aiding our own demise by criticising anything and everything that Anwar is trying to do.

Just ask yourself if you really can do better than him? If you can, then put up a political party, fight the election, get elected and do your good ideas and see if that will last or even survive within an also deformed civil service.

If not, hold your piece, roll up your sleeves and let us help this PM steer Malaysia slowly but surely into safer waters, and only then can we sail into a new destination of prosperity, stability and harmony.

(Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at a local university and his writing reflects his own personal opinion entirely.)


Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
Anwar Ibrahim
unity government


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