Prof Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan: “‘Wasatiyyah’ (moderation) is an important part of Islamic identity that has been forgotten”

A NEW breed of leaders is needed to reconstruct a civilisation based on wasatiyyah or moderation, a Malaysian scholar said yesterday.

Tan Sri Prof Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan, eminent visiting professor of the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies, said new leaders are those who possess moral excellence and technological brilliance.

In his public lecture “Malay-Islamic Civilisation: Its Birth, Development and Wasatiyyah Identity” at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, he said wasatiyyah is an important part of Islamic identity that has been forgotten.

“But now Alhamdulilah, people are coming back to the term wasatiyyah,” he said.

Wasatiyyah means a sense of justice, excellence and balance between extremes, he said.

The source of the term wasatiyyah is derived from Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 143: “And thus we have made you a justly balanced community that you will be witnesses over the people and the messenger will be a witness over you”.

There are three pillars of Al-Wasatiyyah, he said. First is justice — which includes strength, power and dignity — followed by goodness and excellence, and third, balance/moderation.

He said all three are connected, not separated, and that Muslims are supposed to represent these qualities. Religious identities of Muslims that uphold justice, moral excellence and upholding the principle of balance and moderation in certain aspects, he added.

In his lecture, he talked about major civilisational transformation and intellectual revolution of Malay culture brought about by the worldview of Islam.

Tan Sri Prof Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan

Tan Sri Prof Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan

“The worldview of Islam consists of mainly three parts: aqidah (belief system), syariah and akhlak (character). The worldview of Islam represented by aqidah of tauhid (Oneness of Allah SWT), syariah and the morals of Islam brought about cultural and intellectual revolution with a new tradition of learning, learning by the book and not learning on the basis of myth, superstition and wrong beliefs,” he said.

With this change in the culture of the Malays, we have the development of what we called the tradition of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah, he added.

The whole of South East Asia came under the influence of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah (people who followed the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and the practices of Muslims who are the companions and followers of the Prophet (PBUH).

This tradition of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah also brought together three major branches of knowledge known as Ilmu Tauhid (Oneness of Allah), Ilmu Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and Ilmu Tasawwuf (focuses on the spiritual development of the Muslim), he added.

He said the Malay world, which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Muslims of Philippines, Thailand and Singapore, still preserve this integration of these three branches of knowledge.

Tan Sri Prof Dr Mohd Kamal is presently a professor at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation, International Islamic University Malaysia.

The Brunei Times

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


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