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Malaysia's Annuar Musa and Islamic Racism

One can definitely hear the eking of desperation when one reads statements like the one by Umno Supreme Council member, Annuar Musa

Annuar proudly admitted that he is a racist. However, his racism is “based on Islam”.

This is equivalent of saying that one can practise idolatry (something grossly anathematic in Islam) if the idolatry was based on Islamic principles! This admission by Annuar was nothing but a poor attempt at justifying the so-called Himpunan Maruah Melayu.

What was Annuar’s justification for his statement? According to the report, Annuar quotes a hadith in which Prophet Muhammad allowed asabiyyah (camaderie based on tribe) and used it to justify his racism. The reference was not given at all.

Quite strangely, one of the greatest luminaries in traditional Islamic scholarship, Ibn Taimiya (d.728 Hijri), said, 

“Everything which is outside the call of Islaam and the Qur‘aan, with regards to lineage, land, nationality, schools of thoughts and ways, then it is from the calls of jaahiliyyah.”

Jahiliyyah is the period of ignorance which existed before the coming of Muhammad. There was certainly no pride mentioned by IbnTaimiya, let alone any kind of Bumiputera-ism of the Arab variety. 

Prophet Muhammad had definitively stated in a hadith in the Abu Dawood collection: 

“He is not one of us who calls for asabiyyah (tribalism/nationalism) or who fights for asabiyyah, or who dies for asabiyyah.” 

Therefore, we must ask, has Annuar renounced his membership in the ummah of Prophet Muhammad?

In a stronger graded hadith narrated by Ahmad, the Prophet said, 

“Indeed there is no excellence for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab, nor a white person over a black one, nor a black person over a white one, except through taqwa.”

The Quran is even stronger in its emphasis of the fraternity of humanity.  It uses the phrase “ummatan wahida” (one nation – Chapter 2 Verse 213) to describe the essence of humanity. This is our natural state, to be one nation comprising all of humanity. 

In the same verse, the Quran points to what disrupts this state which is “baghyan bainhahum” (an exploitative attitude between people). Is this not exactly what Malay racism is all about? Seeking to acquire rights for one’s race by taking away the rights of others? 

When the Quran speaks of doing good (ihsan in Quranic language), it actually places it next to worship itself (examples include 2/83, 4/36, 6/151 and 17/23). Interestingly, there are no racial nor even religious boundaries when it comes to doing good. One is to help parents, the poor, the orphans, travellers and neighbours. It seems the Quran, rather than supporting Annuar Musa’s diatribe, supports our traditional “semangat muhibbah” and “setiakawan.”

Umno is growing more and more desperate to cling to power.

In order to do so, it continues to take its level of discourse to lower and lower levels in order to pander to the unthinking and hateful masses. 

Annuar Musa’s admission of being a “racist based on Islamic terms” is utter nonsense and must be rejected.

This article first appeared The Malay Mail Online

Farouk A. Peru is a Phd Candidate in Islam and Postmodernism and teaches Islamic Studies at King's College, London