How are China, Singapore and Malaysia different, when it comes to Sunni Islam?
Shift The Script has received many reactions to a recent Facebook post, where many Americans do not know why China, Singapore and Malaysia are singled out for handling Islam differently, compared to the rest of the world. It was interesting to see how many Americans did not know Singapore is not part of China, thus failing geography and history.
The tightly-summarised and highly-simplified answer below will help many Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe, North America and the Middle East understand why China, Singapore and Malaysia must be evaluated. By my estimates, at least 95% of the global population does not know this vital step must be performed when evaluating Sunni Islam, because many of you have no experience and/or do not read widely enough to understand how to make vital comparisons.
Islam is thoroughly strangled in China due to bureaucracy, with the government citing grounds of national security. Some people outside China are outraged by how the Uighur Muslims are treated, while others outside China support what the Chinese government is doing.
When you look at Singapore’s handling of Islam according to the sociology professor’s description in the article presented to you, what words would you use?
The importance of demonstrating how countries such as China, Singapore and Malaysia are very different from other countries on this issue is because many people view the rest of what they believe through a local or personal lens ie what happens in my country or because of the people I know or what I hear of other people in what I deem as reliable news outlets = what is true for the rest of the world.
This is not about opinions, because opinions don’t solve a problem. Accuracy to make careful distinctions and vital connections will depend on your ability to analyse, interact, compare and read intelligently, which automatically disqualifies anyone without sufficient research skills and a strong background in critical thinking when writing. If you cannot recognise 4 vital groups when it comes to analysis for this topic, there is a high chance you will makes mistakes when evaluating details.
If something is stifled, does that mean it is able to truly manifest, or is it greatly diluted and hence a very poor representation of accurate connective reality outside its localised environment, due to being suppressed? And if so, what do the affected people believe, under such diluted circumstances? How do they wind up believing what they do? Why are there such huge differences in how Sunni Islam functions or acts of terrorism not happening/very limited, when compared to other countries?
The governments of these 3 countries have demonstrated willingness to regulate and govern according to what they deem fit for their citizens, which means those responsible for teaching Islam in those countries function a lot less freely than they would in the Middle East, the Americas, Africa, and Europe. You cannot see necessary details, if you don’t know these countries and how they differ from all other countries where Islam is concerned.
Other countries obviously allow the scholars of Sunni Islam significantly more freedom to decide what to teach and how to teach, which will result in a much greater variation of interpretations. When comparing certain differences between certain countries with fundamental similarities and differences, specific anomalies show up.
But if you don’t know enough details about specific countries and how to compare, you cannot do accurate comparisons. Many people who come from the Middle East, the Americas, Africa, and Europe obviously wouldn’t be aware of crucial details.
Given how China and Singapore are finely-regulated countries on the issue of Islam, despite more than 1.5 billion people in one country and less than 7 million people in another country, what difference and similarities can you see?
If you’ve ever looked at the details for different prayers in mosques and carrying out ablutions, you will see many references. How can Sunni Muslims pray in unison with such details in mosques, yet have wide-ranging interpretations of the Qur’an, even in these 3 countries?
In those countries which are very different (such as being very thorough on regulation to the point of strangulation, as China is best described) from other countries on this issue, what does it mean if Muslims in one or two countries can pray in unison and despite varied interpretations of the Qur’an, they have almost identical misunderstandings of the Qur’an or authentic Sunnah, and refuse to check outside of relying heavily on their teachers, whom they can also approach one-on-one?
What does it mean, if Sunni Muslims in one or 2 of these 3 countries demonstrate incredible ignorance and are unable to tell you how to correctly study vital history of Sunni Islam or how Sunni Islam should be understood, beyond superficial details? That means these Sunni Muslims are fundamentally different from Sunni Muslims in many other countries, but Sunni Muslims in those 3 countries and other countries may not be aware of their differences.
Singapore is a country with a non-Islamic Constitution, and Malay-Muslims are a minority of the population following the Shafi’i school of Islamic Jurisprudence in Sunni Islam. Malaysia is a country with Islam in the Constitution, where the majority are Malay-Muslims following the Shafi’i school of Islamic Jurisprudence in Sunni Islam. These 2 countries next to each other have certain laws that protect racial and religious harmony. Both countries are 2 of 20 countries that have not signed the ICCPR (international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).
Malaysia has a highly deterrent Sedition Act, a product of colonial times, which previous governments after the British have used to great effect on critics. Malaysia abolished the ISA but replaced that with other laws, which have been effective when it comes to clamping down on terrorism. Singapore has the ISA, which can be used on grounds of national security to detain individuals indefinitely without trial. Both countries are much smaller than the USA, which means monitoring is much easier.
When you look at all the official deterrents for Singapore and Malaysia to protect its citizens, do you think you could speak as you please, or would you have to be careful? That depends on the topic. When something is tightly regulated from many angles and on almost all levels, which would be more primarily affected for freedom and scope: those who are teaching, or those who are learning?
There is nothing to fear as a local or foreign scholar of Sunni Islam teaching Muslims in Singapore, if vital history and a certain scholarship of Sunni Islam extending back more than 1000 years ago is peaceful and kind, and if the Muslims you teach demonstrate knowledge of vital history about the expansion of Sunni Islam which has been quite barbaric and bloodthirsty.
What would you think, if many Sunni Muslims in one or two of the 3 countries demonstrate incredibly united ignorance about Sunni Islam, except for its most superficial details? And despite the protections afforded to its citizens, a tiny minority become radicalised?
The suicidal Sri Lankan terrorists who came from affluent backgrounds and good education killed more than 250 people on Easter Sunday. They didn’t have a different fundamental mindset from the suicidal hijackers of various nationalities (15 from Saudi Arabia, 2 from UAE, 1 from Lebanon and 1 from Egypt) who killed almost 3000 people on 9/11 more than 17 years ago.
Poverty isn’t the primary reason. Nationalities isn’t the primary reason. What is the specific cause of these unending terrorist attacks that need to be stopped? Can it be pinpointed? Yes. But you’d have to know how to look at what slips through the cracks and why, and you need certain skills.
The ignorance and refusal of many people to read about everything else that is relevant to the root cause of 9/11 is exactly why many people (including known experts) can’t nail down the specific people responsible for 9/11 and permanently stop the root cause today, which also goes back more than 1000 years to a specific group of people.
No matter how much a government regulates Sunni Islam, you cannot control everything and in the process of doing so with good intentions, you may miss the most important details and make it most difficult for whistle-blowers to help you, which is not always about what is taught, but what cannot be taught… especially outside the Middle East. But because you made a significant difference to the usual conditions, thus enabling important comparisons and analysis? Necessary anomalies showed up.
Comparing Singapore and Malaysia to other countries, with certain Muslims in those countries (including self-taught Muslims in India and Sri Lanka) proving to me how ignorant they are, enabled me to research and realise the most important question about Sunni Islam: Why have 2 facts from more than 1000 years ago not been taught together publicly to all non-Muslims and many Muslims in many countries, by those responsible?
It’s not the responsibility of Prime Ministers, Presidents, or Sultans of Malaysia to lead Sunni Muslims about Sunni Islam. The responsibility and leadership authority as the Heirs of the Prophets was already defined more than 1000 years ago specifically by the authentic narrations of the Prophet Muhammad according to a certain scholarship, designating the ulama ie scholars of Sunni Islam with that role.
If teaching the first fact in its entirety to the global public permanently ends your authority and your leadership over a unique civilization that exists and is powered by necessary fundamental ignorance from most of its adherents about these 2 facts together, would you do it? Of course not.
If teaching the second fact renders your job and your civilization unacceptable to all governments today and prevents you from spreading your teachings, would you teach it? Of course not.
When the leaders responsible for teaching these 2 facts will not do the necessary to allow people to make properly informed decisions? It becomes the responsibility of those with a conscience and reliable ethics toward other people, to do so as whistle-blowers or more.