Firstly, I am writing this not as a pious man nor an ustaz, not as a sheikh nor as a tabligh. But i am writing this as a muslim, a proud muslim who is obliged to do the amar makruf wa nahi mungkar and to counter the misconceptions about the ad-deen, not just among the non muslims, but also among my brothers and sisters of islam. But please, don't have the idea of me wearing the white headgear and the jubah, and having a long beard. I hardly wear any kopiah before, for your information.
I have a question to ask; what is islam?
I did ask this question to a few of my friends and some people that i encountered, and their answers are quite dissapointing. Some restrict the practice of islam just in the confinements of the 5 pillars of islam. Instead, in reality, islam is much more than that. It is not just a religion, but it is ad-deen; a way of life. Western orientalist and secularism has somehow corrupted the minds and thoughts of muslims with te doctrine that islam is only in the mosque, and once you are out of the mosque, you are someone else. No, islam is much more than that. It is a system of life, where it teaches its followers the basis of every aspect of life, ranging from the smallest of things in our daily life, such as the taharah (cleanliness) until the ethics and guidelines on how to govern a country or an empire (the daulah). It is a complete, thorough manual of life, with the al-quran and the as-sunnah as the reference and the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the main example. Islam is everywhere; from the way you smile, the way you care about people, the way you talk, the way you sit, the way your eat, and the list goes down. If you are aware, we are constantly reminded of what islam really is in the solah that we perform : 'kul inna solati wa nusuki, wa mahyaya wa mamati lillahi rabbil alamin'. meaning ; my prayers, my ibadah, my life and my death is dedicated to Allah, the creator of all. (quoted in the iftitah).
In my personal opinion, the source of the misconception could be traced to how we are educated by our parents, teachers and the society. We have been brought up with the idea that islam equals malays, and we are continuously taught into picturing a muslim wearing a songkok, a baju melayu or a jubah, the serban, and that person sitting in the surau. It is deeply embedded in the society that we somehow mistook culture with Islam. And to some extent, islam is wrongly claimed that it inhibits development, and it is a much dissapointment that some of my brothers and sisters supported this statement.
History has proven that Islam ia not just able to exist coincide with development, but instead, the development of knowledge flourished under the reign of Islam. From the times of the Khulafa' Ar-rashidin, to the Umayyads, the Abbasids, until the Ottomans, the world has witnessed an unprecedented rise of the Islamic civilisation, with the territory controlled by muslims grew rapidly and muslim scholars speerheading new discoveries and findings in every field of knowledge. And bear in mind that all of the great Muslim thinkers are also prominent religious leaders.
Brothers and sisters, the time for change is now. It is essential that all of us embrace the true meaning of islam and cast aside the misleading ideas that has so long been ascociated with it. We need to always remind ourselves and others what islam is really all about.
And lastly, i would like to ask a question for all of us to ponder; from puberty until now, what have we contributed to Islam?