Name : Norazirah Aqilah binti Azlan
Title : There’s Gotta Be A Change

SUMMARY

The generation of Malays today is drowned in the temporary joy the “Dunya” offers although we know the fact that it will eventually end. With most of the social illness and negative elements involve Malay-Muslims in Malaysia, what are our chances of creating a better motherland? We will only leave the other races giggling at our comedown.

                                                It is time for us to change!

Imam Hassan Al-Banna, the founder and the leader of a great Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, said, we need to make a difference by taking an active role, both individually and collectively in the reform process that seeks to make the betterment of our community, our country, and the whole world.

Do not worry; I am not an extremist or a preacher. I would just like to share my humble thoughts on what kind of small changes we Malays can make so that big transformations can be made for Malaysia.

Firstly, we need a change of attitude. The Japanese were once known as cruel, cold-blooded people who chopped off people’s head. Thanks to the Americans, after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they changed into such gentle, kind-hearted people who were motivated enough to build back the city that was crumbled into pieces. Their attitude of enjoying what they do and discipline brought them to their success today.

Secondly, we need a change of mentality. If we compare the number of Jews and Malays that exist in the world now, I am pretty sure we have the same number. But how does this small number of race manage to control the world? We need a change of mentality. A believe that we can still thrive even in a small number if we use our brains and start being creative. It is a grave mistake to assume that being in the minority is to be weak and insignificant.

Thirdly, we need a change of nature. We need to stop taking things for-granted and start looking back over history. We need to study back our downfall and start making plans so that we will not repeat our mistakes.

Finally, we need a change of mindset. I am sure most Malays feel threatened over the Chinese and Indians. A frightening feeling of losing what we call “Hak Ketuanan Melayu”. I think we should take this as a challenge to fight and prove that we own that right.

ESSAY

ESSAY

“Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves”

(Quran : Surah13. Ar-Rad, Ayah11)

How epic would it be to see bearded men dressed in Baju Kurung for a change? Or see fishes fly in the air and birds swim in the sea. Or even soldiers carrying flowers instead of bombs and guns loaded with bubbles instead of bullets.  Imagine a world full of changes where the moon comes out in the morning and the sun shines at night. Forgive my dramatic introduction. I just love attracting attention. In this essay, I will talk about the little changes we Malaysians especially Malays can make to make big transformations. But before that, be my guess and let’s go on a magic carpet ride. Let us travel 500 years back together to the day Malaysia was born an innocent, pure, virgin country.

            Back in the 15th Century, Melaka, the land of Malays, was a mighty kingdom known worldwide. It was not an ordinary port city; it was the centre of regional trade. All traders from the West, the Orient, China and India came to Malacca. Its geographically strategic location and natural blessings made it the most influential and busiest port in the Southeast Asia. It had an empire with a well-defined government with the Sultan at the top of the hierarchy and the Bendahara, Laksamana, Temenggung as his pillar. It was the first Malay Muslim state that had a real regional maritime power. The sultanate was a centre for the spread of Islam and the Malay language became the lingua franca of Southeast Asia. Melaka brought the Malay empire to their golden days.

            Sadly, the arrival of Europeans in Melaka brought a dramatic change to the state. The Melaka Sultanate fell under the blows of the Portuguese colonialists, who took advantage of the sultanate’s weakened condition and army. They manipulated the people’s mind as they have always did and are still doing today especially towards Islamic countries. They brought about struggle for power between feudal lords. They created conflicts between the ruling elite and common people. Finally, they attacked.

Melaka fell to the Portuguese in 1511 and to the Dutch in 1641. It was ceded to Great Britain in 1824 who extended their influence across Malaya. They brought in Chinese and Indians as labor workers to their benefits; creating an ethnic division of labor, with Chinese working in the mines and Indians on the estates of Malaya and with the indigenous Malay population producing food for the mine and estate workers. They ruled until the Second World War where they lost Malaya to the Japanese. Japanese troops took control over Malaya from 1941-45. British took back power and created the Malayan Union 1946. This was abandoned in 1948 and the Federation of Malaya emerged in its place.

Within the 400 years under the suppression of colonists, Malaya worked really hard to get her independence. Sacrifices were made. Struggles were faced. In the end, she triumphed. At the stroke of midnight of the 31st of August 1957, a great roar told the world that Malaya was now a nation. On September 16th 1963, Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah, and initially Singapore united to form Malaysia, a country whose potpourri of society and customs derives from its rich heritage from four of the world’s major cultures – Chinese, Indian, Islamic and Western.

            Unfortunately, life’s not all pearls and pebbles. After the end of colonial rule, the history of Malaysia was deformed by its civil wars and racial tensions. The importance given to Malay communities was severely opposed by certain other sections, especially the Chinese. This led to a situation of emergency and subsequent riots. The 1969’s May 13th incident marks one of Malaysia’s mournful racial incidents. Although the wound has healed, the scar still remains as a mark of how crucial racial issues can be until today.

Clearly, from one point to another, we have succeeded in bringing freedom and peace to a nation which was at one time colonized and threatened. Our nation became independent in the midst of armed rebellion by the Communist Party of Malaya, in an environment where our survival as a multiracial, multireligious and multilingual nation was looked with skepticism by the world. Respect and tolerance among our multiracial founding fathers rose Malaysia form its ashes despite all the torments and devastations. They liberated us from the clutches of colonialism. They were the pioneers who developed Malaysia into one of the most progressive countries of the world, which is home to people from various ethnic communities, and still thrives in peace and harmony. They made the impossible possible.

The question is, can we; the youth of the nation sustain this unity and move the country forward at the same time? With the present generation taking today’s blessings as an excuse to rest in their laurels, I’m pretty sure Malaysia’s heading to its own downfall. Just like the empire of Melaka. The good news is, we can still be saved if we start making changes. We ought to change ourselves individually first and then start making changes starting with our families, towards society, the country and then Islam itself.

When I was a kid, I had the dream of being the prime minister of Malaysia. I know nerdy right? Maybe it was because I truly admired Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad. I admired every single thing he did for Malaysia although some were widely criticized for instance the formation Putrajaya, and Proton. Despite this, all his plans came to a success. Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, more than any other politician, has consistently critiqued the ‘west’ for its arrogance, double standards, and discoursed on a new colonialism. He wrote in one of his books, A New Deal for Asia”;

“In the early 1980s, the Western nations appeared to have lost their drive. They were enmeshed in an oil crisis and seemingly unable to overcome economic stagnation at a time when vibrant new economic energy was virtually exploding in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. For me, it was a natural conclusion that if we were to emulate the success of foreign nations, the most valuable role models were no longer in Europe or the U.S., but rather in our own backyard. We had to look East.”
On that account, he introduced the look east policy which I thought and still think a remarkable plan.  Seeing that Japan had managed to sustain a high economic growth from after the Second World War and become one of the largest economies, there is no reason why we must not learn from them. They had made the whole world taken by awe. Since I am currently studying in Japan and emerged directly in their society, I can conclude that their success is mainly because of their “attitude”. Their attitude reflects that they enjoy what they do no matter how rigid it is. They live to work not work to live. Hence, the first change I think we should make is the change of our own attitude first.

When I first came to Japan, I was surprised on how the Japanese treated their customers. They had the phrase “Okyakusama wa Kamisama da” (Customers are God). Which perfectly make sense since they don’t believe in anything that’s immortal. In spite of their Atheist beliefs, they work as if they are always being watched. They are totally honest, disciplined and motivated. They are always on time and take things seriously. They have mutual respect towards one another and work diligently to achieve their goals. Everything Islam had for ever thought us but yet, most of us still remain the bad-mannered religionist who lies for profit. That is why I am positive that Tun established the look east policy 30years ago with the hope that Malaysians especially Malays will stop “me「layu」ing” (which means withering in English) and start bearing fruit.

The legendary Malaysian prime minister also made brave remarks towards the Jews and Israel that drew headlines and a swift condemnation from the Israel. He voiced out on how the Jews had survived 2000 years of pogroms by not hitting back but by thinking. Mahathir said,

“They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy, so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others.

  With these they have gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community who were once hunted down by the Nazis, have become a world power. They rule the world by proxy with America and Britain as their mustang. They get others to fight and die for them. They fuel hatred and misunderstandings towards the Arab and Muslim world. But they are wrong. They cannot just wipe away 1.3 billion Muslims. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains too. Is there no other way than to ask our young people to blow themselves up and kill people and invite the massacre of more of our own people? We need to change the way of our thinking. For Allah’s sake, Muslims were blessed with the most perfect, noble and awe-inspiring book mankind has ever known. There is no reason why we should not be the most advanced race in the world.

I still remember being sweet-talked by my Usrah sister (Naqibah) to attend an Islamic talk here in Japan. Pardon my language, but I always thought Islamic talk in Malay was a little bit annoying as most of the Ustaz always had this thick Kedah or Pantai Timur accent which gets to my nerves most of the time. Plus, their talk often goes on and on and ends up with a question like “Apa hukum ‘ter’makan or ‘ter’minum makanan haram” which in my opinion can be judged through common sense since Allah is the Most Forgiving. Anyway, back to the subject, the Islamic talk my Naqibah promoted was actually awesome. The talk was mainly about the downfall of Islam and why it never gained back its incredible days.

The Ustaz showed us an interesting graph about the history of Islam which was once a remarkably powerful power respected and honoured by the people around the world. Islam had only 13 believers when the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) first heard the words of Allah. With his humble characteristic, he managed to open Madinah, Syam, Egypt and Palestine. He brought up caliphs who managed to build exalted empires. Unfortunately, centuries after the passing of the prophet, Islam experienced its’ first downfall. We lost Palestine to the Christians, our scholars were killed and our knowledge was stolen. Salehuddin Al-Ayyubi did manage to conquer back Al-Quds by reviewing and learning from history but it was lost again to the Jews. Sultan Muhammad Al-Fateh pulled Islam back from its downfall by planning well-grounded tactics and strategies but thirst for power and wealth brought another downfall. Painfully, no other Muslim leader managed to bring Islam back to its glorious days resulting in the everlasting dark days of Islam until today.

When the crusade war loomed, Louis IX, the King of France stated that;

“There is no way in defeating the Muslims through war. Muslims are thought to not be afraid to die in defending their religion. We must defeat the Muslims through another way. We must change their way of thinking. We must change Islam itself.”

With the outbreak of war mostly involving Islamic nations continue to wage throughout the globe, I would like to personally congratulate King Louis the IX for his success in achieving his goal. Muslims are now mentally manipulated by ill vicious un-Islamic ideologies planted by the enemies of Islam. There is no reason why the term “terrorist” isn’t buttoned down to Muslims as wars happening today mostly involve Islamic countries. As sad as it sounds, a friend of mine once experienced a cute innocent Japanese kid calling her a terrorist. Apparently, with the so-called “World Police” controlling the media, Islam will continue having that sad imprecise image of bearded men carrying mass weapons and women covered in black unfashionable cloth.

The Ustaz pin pointed that, to glorify Islam back, we need to change. We had to learn from history and make sure we do not repeat the same mistakes we had done by always having smart, well-planned strategies planned ahead.

Shifting to the topic of Malay youths, it is despairing to see my comrade’s drowned in the immortal joy of Dunya (today’s life) they have now. Have they forgotten the fallen heroes and leaders sacrifices to make Malaysia our homeland? If something bad happens to Malaysia, the Chinese and Indians will still have their mainland; a place called home. They would still have a place to turn to and accept them back. But we, Malays, Malaysia is our only land. It is our “tanah tumpah darah-ku”. If it takes sweating blood to defend it, then we should be prepared to say “YES”. Heartbrokenly, if you ask me how many Malays are willing to grab a rifle, brave like Palestinians to defend Malaysia, I can imagine even the most Macho guy in college hiding under his bed .

Malays are spoiled. For the love of God, we have Indonesians and Bangladeshis doing all of our dirty work leaving Malays sucking drugs and making illegitimate babies. Yet, we still demand for Bumiputera rights and Malay privileges?  If I were the Chinese and Indians, I would be out of rage too. Instead of complaining and winding about losing those privileges, why don’t we start showing that we earn those privileges? Why don’t we take the challenges of living in a diverged community as an advantage instead of a threat?

During the rule of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), he encouraged his followers to wander off continents towards great civilizations such as Rome, Farsi and China. He did send them to preach Islam but the hidden purpose he sent them was for them to learn from those great civilizations. He sent them to grasp knowledge which was the vital tool that up casted Islam to its glorious days. The Muslims learned, absorbed, amalgamated the ideas of the east and the west and gave to the world the empirical-scientific method, algebra, chemistry, medicine, Tasawwuf and the Taj Mahal.

We should be grateful that we live in a country of diversity. Instead of going all the way to India to learn from the Indians, we can just learn from them by having “roti canai” and “teh tarik” at a kedai mamak. Instead of travelling the oceans to China, we can learn how the Chinese handle business by just going to a saloon to get our hair done. How convenient is that? And still we have about more than 30 indigenous tribes in Borneo to learn from. How lucky we are.

Hence, I think it is time for us to stop begging for Malay rights and start working hard to gain it so that one day the Chinese and Indians will not question it but rather hand it to us with bowed heads. We Malays who were born with the gift of Islam must start taking charge. We ought to stop being at each other’s throat, criticizing one another and start moving together side by side. It is time for us to join hands as a nation. Not as sole Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans or Kadazans but as one whole solidified Malaysian. What we sowed more than half a century ago is now bearing fruits. We should allow the seeds from these fruits to generate more growth and progress for Malaysia. The soil we have ploughed is now fertile and we should reject saboteurs from destroying these fields. Our unity amid diversity is the pillar of Malaysia’s strength.

We are just like a bowl of ABC where the big mound of shaved ice in a bowl is covered with jelly in every colour, ice cream in many flavours, broad beans and nutmeg, palm nuts and creamy corn kennels. All tasty by themselves, but it’s only when they get together that a bowl of ABC becomes truly special. It reminds us of something special. Something where different colours, tastes and textures are all mixed in to create something wonderful. Where each part is different and good by itself, but is only at its best when put together. Where we may disagree on some things such as what kind of nuts we like best but agree on so much more. Like how much we all love ABC.

I have a dream that our attitudes will change; that we will build ourselves individually with core principles of great desire to succeed; that our thirst for knowledge will not fade, despite our age or background.  I have a dream that each of us will see each other as one “Ummah” that are willing to make sacrifices of lending our shoulders to help each other reach the stars.  I have a dream to see intelligent leaders run the country with honesty, diligence and transparency.

I have a dream that one day Malaysia would return to being the paradise God created where people live in peace and understanding. A return to the days when we were all one nation of different races and creeds, but all breathed the same air in the same country that we all call home. A day where we are compelled to ask not what our country can do for us but rather what we can do for our country as God will not change the condition of a people until they change it themselves.

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